Sunday, February 05, 2012

Whine! whine! whine! Would YOU be devastated if you found that most physicists are men?

In a profoundly unscientific article, two female physicists are apparently deeply disturbed by the reality concerned. Under the heading "Women in physics: A tale of limits" Rachel Ivie and Casey Langer Tesfaye have written a long screed that can be summarized with both brevity and accuracy by a very fashionable whine: "We bin discriminated against".

A physics education does however seem to have given them some faint attachment to the scientific method, so they go to considerable lengths to substantiate their claims. But do they turn to physics to substantiate their claims? Not at all. Far from offering any comparison of male and female work in physics, they turn to sociology! Like sociologists they have faith that questionnaire surveys will tell them something about reality. I did such surveys for many years and eventually concluded that they don't.

Their anti-scientific orientation is most clearly revealed by "the dog that didn't bark", however. They ignore over a hundred years of research that repeatedly reveals women to have better verbal ability and men to have better mathematical ability. And since physics these days is little more than applied mathematics, that datum could hardly be more relevant. It suggests that not many women have what it takes to be good physicists.

They could of course disagree with what is one of the most replicated findings in science but instead of disagreeing with it, they simply ignore it -- thus violating one of the most fundamental canons of science: That you must have regard for what others before you have written on your subject.

So their own writing suggests one very good reason why there are not many women physicists: They are just not very good scientists. Their own work suggests that hormones take the place of rationality.

And in the end why does it matter that most physicists are men? I can't see that humanity is badly served by that reality but the case that it does matter is presumably arguable. But they make no attempt to argue it. They just resort to that terminally destructive and totally unrealistic Leftist obsession with "equality". They are very poor intellects indeed. Procrustes would be proud of them.

For reference, I reproduce below the concluding section of their article:
The global survey follows a body of work that has examined the importance to career success of access to resources and opportunities. The survey found that women are less likely than men to report access to various resources and opportunities that would be helpful in advancing a scientific career. It also confirmed, consistent with cultural norms, that men are more likely than women to have a spouse who will shoulder the burden of housework. We noted the cultural expectation that women are responsible for child care and documented survey results showing that parenting affects the careers of women more than it does the careers of men.

Admittedly, our results are derived from the testimony of survey respondents, and it is conceivable that the sex differences we have found exist not because women are treated differently but because they differ from men in their expectations about work. However, the results reported here will come as no surprise to the researchers who have already found that resources, opportunities, and family responsibilities affect women’s careers.4,6 We believe the results reflect an underlying reality of disadvantage—not differing work expectations—and that all the sex-based differences documented here adversely affect the careers of women physicists.

The low representation of women in physics is a problem the community needs to address, but the community also needs to address inequities in access to resources and opportunities. Cultural expectations about home and family also inhibit the progress of women physicists; those, of course, are much more difficult to change. Nonetheless, we look forward to a future in which science truly means science for all.

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