Monday, July 03, 2006

Women's Group Wants Woman Removed From National Math Panel

From EdWeek (registration currently required):

An advocacy group that promotes increased participation for women in mathematics is calling for the removal of the vice chairwoman of a newly formed national panel studying how to improve student performance in that subject, citing objections over research she conducted in the 1980s on gender differences in math reasoning...

The association, which is based in Fairfax, Va., and says it has 4,100 members, takes issue with three articles written by Ms. Benbow in the 1980s. One of those articles examines the possibility of differences in mathematical reasoning ability between males and females, particularly among those with strong ability in the subject.


The Association for Women in Mathematics’ petition says that the articles conveyed the belief that there are “intrinsic gender differences that favor males at the highest levels of mathematics.” The petition argues that there is considerable research that contradicts Ms. Benbow’s findings...


But Ms. Benbow, a widely published scholar, said she stood completely by the research in the three articles cited by the association. The first article, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability: Fact or Artifact,” appeared in the journal Science in 1980; a second article was published in Science in 1983; and the third appeared in Behavioral and Brain Science in 1988. Subsequent research has drawn similar conclusions to hers, Ms. Benbow said in an interview at the meeting. She said she had no plans to step down from the panel.


Ms. Benbow noted that she has conducted extensive research on how gifted girls and boys learn math, work that she believes has benefited both females and males in that subject.


Dr. Summers, President of Harvard, was forced out after making a comment that differences between men and women in this field should be studied.

Why is it that if someone mentions that there might be a difference between how men and women process information, and that that possibility merits study, some people get their panties in a bunch, but then those same people will turn around and discuss how blacks learn differently from whites and teachers need different strategies to teach black and Hispanic kids.

How many times must I say it--consistency is not a strong point of the left.

4 comments:

Robert said...

"The Association for Women in Mathematics’ petition says that the articles conveyed the belief that there are “intrinsic gender differences that favor males at the highest levels of mathematics.” The petition argues that there is considerable research that contradicts Ms. Benbow’s findings..."

I've got three questions for the AWM:

(1) Since when is it a hanging offense to convey a belief?

(2) Is that belief conveyed because of good research? If so, shouldn't you listen?

(3) Even assuming that there is considerable research to the contrary, so what? Isn't this called "scholarship"?

I guess the AWM only wants *women who agree with them* to advance in the field.

This reminds me of a female student we had here once who applied for a prestigious summer research program for women in mathematics. The math faculty at the time, all males, wrote her glowing reviews and she noted in her application how much she had been supported by the faculty in her studies. She was turned down... because she had been supported so much. The program was looking for women, I guess, who had to fight male oppression to get to where they are.

Politics and professional organizations -- blah!

Robert said...

By the way, here's a manual trackback:

http://www.castingoutnines.net/2006/07/03/what-not-to-research/

I add a few thoughts of my own there, and some links to the AWM's site.

Darren said...

Both of your comments are, as the British would say, "spot on".

EllenK said...

I have been far more concerned about young men and education than young women. Most kids diagnosed as ADHD are boys. Most kids in trouble with the law are boys. And now there are more female undergraduates than male. I have cause for concern. I see school systems that are addressing education as a regurgitative process and that doesn't work to all types of learning styles, but relies heavily on reading and testing. I don't think that most schools are even permitted to broach the subject due to the PC attitudes of most colleges and universities. The unwillingness of colleagues to even LISTEN to the idea that maybe, JUST MAYBE, men and women are not alike, is telling. It's like when you say to a five year old that it's bedtime and they have their fingers in their ears shouting lalalala in order to avoid the point. I am sure there are cases that could be researched and presented, but I don't know of an education school in the nation that would be willing to admit such findings to publication for fear of retaliation. That's the way the left works-don't let anyone disagree and when they do, scream foul and use the media to do your dirty work.