How Women are Treated in the Sciences

by jeeg 16. June 2010 00:36

Two blogs have launched criticims at recent claims that women are less capable than men in the sciences.  


Blue Lab Coats states:

At least 3 people have asked me in the last two days if I intend to post something on that seriously underwhelming NYT article by John Tierney that was published a couple of days ago.  In it, Tierney postulates, YET AGAIN that there is a gender disparity in science because there are more men at the very upper end of the IQ scale than there are women. What was my response to everyone and their mother asking me if I was going to post on this topic- Yawn, yawn, and yawn again.  Apparently a plethora of other women scientist bloggers had the same reaction- and honestly, I could never have said it better than Female Science Professor or Isis- responses, in my humble opinion, completely spot on.

Then one of my science BFF sent me this article that appeared in the Daily Mail recently written by the estimable Professor Richard Lynn.  Ok, this time my response was less like yawn, yawn and yawn again and more like puke, puke, and puke again (on Richard’s shoes- a la Zuska). This little gem goes further than Tierney… I’ll just quote what Dr. Lynn said in the Daily Mail:

So here goes: one of the main reasons why there are not more female science professors or chief executives or cabinet ministers is that, on average, men are more intelligent than women.

Dr. Lynn says that he has reached this conclusion  from ‘a lifetime of academic research’- and he is aware that this explanation will unleash ‘howls of Feminist outrage'


At Isis the Scientist they continue:

Which, brings us back to the idea of gender bias and culture.  This is where we need to be looking in order to close the gender gap in STEM.  Recently ScienceMama from the Mother of All Scientists sent me a link to this article from Science about how successful academic women learn to outsource daily tasks like housekeeping, childcare, and laundry.  While, I think the advice is generally good, ScienceMama picked up on the underlying social message of the article.  She wrote to me:

I can't exactly put into words why this article bothers me so much.  I understand the general intention of the article, but for some reason the take home message for me seems to be "If you're a female scientist, you need to hire a housekeeper, whereas if you're a male scientist you can just get a wife."

By focusing just on female scientists, it seems like what the article is saying is that domestic chores are a woman's responsibility.  Why shouldn't male scientists also be encouraged to get a housekeeper to cover all the work they are clearly neglecting at home?

Again, I understand that the article was well-intentioned (spend your limited free time with your family or on a hobby instead of mopping your floors), but the fact that it's aimed only at female scientists seems to reinforce the idea that all of the domestic chores are the woman's responsibility.

She's exactly right.  We can spend our time discussing SAT scores, but I worry that we are missing the most important thing that keeps women out of science - the cultural attitudes that teach women that if they choose a demanding career, they aren't fulfilling their duties as wife and mother.





6/18/2010 7:04:31 PM #

Shannon McMillan

Thank you for that response! I absolutely agree that the argument of boys being better than girls is outdated and outplayed!Why must they continue to try and push women back in the kitchen and can't accept the fact that we are advancing and progressing more than some men.

Shannon McMillan United States |

6/19/2010 12:40:19 AM #


The competition between genders in this day and age is certainly alarming. Endless issues have shown women and men to have equal abilities.

Miley United States |

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