Gender issues certainly are complicated little buggers, aren't they? I know I've written about this before, but recent events got me going again and I just couldn't help myself.
From Why do girls lose interest in math and science? on CNN.com:
[At a conference today, Secretary of Education Margaret] Spellings said mothers can inadvertently send signals to their daughters that math skills are not important. Educators must change the culture so it is not acceptable for women to brag about not being able to balance their checkbooks, she said.Darn those inadvertent signals. But let me tell you what - women who can't balance their checkbooks really turn me on. Bragging about not being able to add up monthly expenditures is just like talking dirty to me.
*Pauses to bang head on desk*
Now perhaps I'm just an ignorant male oppressor, but I'm just about positive that even if I was female, my mom would still disown me if I went about boasting of my mathematical inaptitude*. While I concede the women Secretary Spellings speaks of exist, the problem is not a simple one, and with the way we're currently going about things, I fail to see how this dilemma will ever be resolved.
"We need definitive insights into what goes wrong, when and why," Spellings said. She asked her department's Institute of Education Sciences to review existing research and determine why girls are not as well represented in the sciences as boys.In my opinion, the very approach Spellings is taking to this issue is completely flawed; she's already assumed that the underrepresentation of females in math and science is the result of something going wrong.
While it's certainly possible that people like Lawrence Summers are way off - that innate differences between the sexes simply don't exist, and that gender is entirely a social construct - the research I've done indicates that it's certainly possible Summers was right - that there are gendered predispositions to interests in math, science, reading, and writing. However, it would appear this review of exisiting research will not be asked to consider such differences as a possibility.
I can ramble on and on and on, but my only point is this: with issues as important and sensitive as these, it's high time to end the comfortable rhetoric and start looking for truth rather than correctness.
*Then again, since I think math and science suck**, I'm apparently pretty much a girl anyway.
**For all I care, those nerds preaching the amazingness of math and science can go jump off a bridge.
***Yes, the bridge constructed by geeky engineers and yes, the fall demanded by Newtonian laws of gravity. Now buzz off.