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Tuesday: Rosen, Davidson and adolescent males

Let me say up front that I am not one of those “I am the victim of the patriarchy” type of women.  My approach has always been one of confrontation and anger when someone threatens my personhood.  I don’t whine.  (Oh, brother, I can just hear the comments now.)  Maybe that’s because I think of myself as person first, female second.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t pervasive cultural trends and conditioning that need to be eliminated and/or reversed.  For example, this notion that somehow the thoughts that come out of the mouths of women are worth less than those that come out of the mouths of men really frosts my crockies.  You will probably not be surprised to find that there is some recent research on the subject and attitudes about the appropriateness of women taking on certain subjects is already in place by high school.  That is, in the male adolescent brain.

Consider this recent study noted in Science Daily back in February of this year noting Gender Bias Found in Student Ratings of High School Science Teachers:

A study of 18,000 biology, chemistry and physics students has uncovered notable gender bias in student ratings of high school science teachers.

Researchers at Clemson University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University have found that, on average, female high school science teachers received lower evaluations than their male counterparts even though male and female teachers are equally effective at preparing their students for college.

The findings appear in Science Education online in the research paper, “Unraveling Bias from Student Evaluations of their High School Science Teachers.”

Most notably, say the researchers, the physics students in the survey showed the largest bias toward female physics teachers. In biology and chemistry, male students tended to underrate their female teachers, but female students did not. In physics, both male and female students tended to underrate their female teachers.

“The importance of these findings is that they make it clear that students have developed a specific sense of gender-appropriate roles in the sciences by the end of high school,” said Geoffrey Potvin, assistant professor of engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences at Clemson.

“Such a sense of what are and what are not appropriate roles for males and females in science likely impacts the choices students make when they consider their college studies,” said Clemson researcher Zahra Hazari, also an assistant professor in engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences. “Such a bias could negatively impact female students and contribute to the loss of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Put aside the fact that there aren’t any jobs in these areas in America anymore, I think we can begin to understand why Larry Summers thinks that women can’t cut it in science and math.  What is striking about the study is that both male and female teachers were equally able to prepare their students for college level courses.  The outcome was identical but the female teacher didn’t get the same credit for her work.

Now, some commenters have complained in the past that we bash men unfairly.  This isn’t true.  There are some feminist bloggers who will go out of their way to accuse all men of being latent rapists and Taliban wannabees.  We tend to stay away from that kind of blanket condemnation because it simply isn’t true.  However, if some of our male readers out there feel put upon that their behavior is being called to task for being insufficiently respectful of opinions that emanate from the mouths and keyboards of women, then I can only say one thing: stop doing it.  Women don’t share the belief that they are not as smart as men, that their opinions aren’t as valuable or that their passions and research are “pet issues”.  We all grow up in the same families and schools so whatever the genesis of these differences that exist in the minds of men are subtle and profoundly irritating to those of us who have to put up with them. We have to read the ridiculous bitchy sniping of Sonia Sotomayor from the keyboard of Jeffrey Rosen and listen to the textbook case of gender bias from Adam Davidson and we get angry.

Yesterday’s Planet Money reviewed the angry responses from listeners to Adam’s attack on Elizabeth Warren’s credibility.  I have to applaud her for not decking him.  She sounded feisty and offended, as well she should.  But somehow, Adam’s mea culpas do not yet sound sincere.  He apologizes in a pro forma way without real understanding of how his attitude towards her greater authority is less than it should be.  He undermines his own credibility in the process.   And without true understanding, it is going to be very difficult to have women in power.  The next time one runs for high office, we will be subjected to the same crap that Hillary and Sarah put up with in 2008.  The country is 51% female.  To diss more than half of the population as insufficiently capable of expressing a well-thought opinion is a recipe for disaster.  It can result in the election of a complete neophyte to office who will be easily manipulated by the oligarchs.  How else could it be that a man with no experience or political philosophy can be promoted over a more qualified female in a period of our nation’s history when experience and knowledge base is crucial to that nation’s economic survival?

Overcome it, guys.

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53 Responses

  1. Sing it sister!

  2. I’ve been dealing with Very OldMother and her broken hip and cardiac issues in the hospital this past few weeks. My brother has been great and been there with me to help.

    Now, I haven’t negotiated much in my life with any man standing next to me and dealing with the male doctors has been an eye-poppin’ experience. Brother and I would approach a doctor (this was not limited to any one particular male physician) and the doctor would greet/shake hands/ my brother, look him in the eye and act as if I wasn’t even there.

    When I’d ask a question about OldMother’s treatment, the doctor would look at my brother and answer the question as if he had asked it. I was seriously shocked. And this happened with each male doctor we dealt with

    I finally asked my brother if he had noticed the way the interactions were going down and he did not… So, this seems perfectly normal to at least this group of men.

    Later that week, I saw my own doctor (a woman) and told her how the story and she said, “Welcome to my world”. She’s a physician and a surgeon and has been practicing medicine in this area for the last 25 years… it did not surprise her in the least…

    No credibility?!? Hell, we don’t even exist…

    • Same thing walking on to a car lot fro people trained to press the flesh to make a deal. Either that or as in the case of a female friend out on her own after a divorce gets hit on. Told her it served her right for buying a Nazi car.

    • OldCoastie, Get a notebook and keep it with you at the hospital. After asking the doctor your question, be ready to write notes about his answer.

      That might help to pull the focus back to you.

      I always keep notes when my parents have health problems and doctors always give me their full attention. Often making sure I write info down correctly.

    • not all us guys are like that … iv never thought that way & or treating youn girls a 2nd call citizens in fact i think if done my best to give you more of a voice … i just got working on 1 of the mayoral race in san antonio and the candiate i was trying to get elected was a women ..

    • I had that problem with my son’s doctor years ago.

      I was a young-ish mother (in my 20’s) but I tended to look like I was younger than that. Anyway, I had a problem with this doctor listening to me and taking my son’s problems seriously. At one point, I called the administration of the clinic and complained that I didn’t believe this doctor was treating me with respect or being aggressive enough with treatment…

      What do you know, I got a call from the doctor’s office, an appointment, a personal appology and a referral to a specialist! Oh, and the specialist aggreed with me 😉

      Don’t be afraid to confront that behaviour. A quick, “I asked the question, why are you directing your response to my brother?” might be all it takes. You will most likely get an appology and eye contact after that.

      • Oh yeah. Looking too young sure can be a problem.

        At one of the party-leader debates at the latest Danish election, the far left party, which doesn’t have a leader, send one of their fierce, smart young women. (And yes she does look young!)

        Meeting her in the make up room, not knowing who she was (baaad!), the middle aged male leader of the Conservative party, asked her to bring him a cup of coffee!

        Lol – he never heard the end of it! Rightly so.

    • Hi everyone! I hear ya oldcoastie. My husband was nearly killed in a auto accident a little over two weeks ago, thank god/goddess he is alive.

      Anyhow, an investigator from our attorney came to discuss the accident. Mind you, hubby had a concussion and was under the influence of painkillers and muscle relaxants, not in any condition to answer questions completely. Especially regarding details of what actions we had taken thus far, as I had made all phone calls etc.

      This guy kept asking him, hubby kept looking at me and I would answer. I guess sometimes they’d rather deal with someone completely out of it than a woman who had the answers.

    • Fif:

      I had the same experience quite a few years ago. My Mother-in-law was struck by a drunk driver and was in a coma for a week. My wife and I sat with her daily and read to her so as to let her know we were there with her. A male neurosurgeon walked in one day and began to explain her situation to ME. He disregarded my wife standing next to me and directed his conversation to me as if she was not in the room.
      I never had to say a word to this doctor as my wife stepped in front of me and told him that she was the one he should be talking to.

      I never saw this as a threat to my “Manhood” nor have I ever when my wife decided to take control of a situation. I have always recognized that she was, and I would be safe in saying always is, the brains of the operation. 🙂

      That being said, I personally have had instances where I felt that as a man, my worth was more. I can honestly say that these thoughts have been far and few and as I age, non existent.

      If a man tells you he has never felt this, I believe he is not being honest with himself.
      Men, not all but most in my view, have felt and as we all know, feel threatened by powerful and smart woman. It is just the way most of us men have been raised. We are told we are the “Hunters.” The “Providers” since birth. Some men just cannot wrap their minds around a woman in a position of power. It is threatening to men to see a woman capable of existing without the aid of a man. And jeebus help us if that woman is in a position of power…Oh hell no! I have personally heard this from some of my male counterparts.

      I find that odd as I have always thought that it was the WOMAN who ran the household when we were growing up. At least that was the way I was raised.
      think about this for a moment…”Who was the person in a position of authority when you were growing up?” When you asked if you could go out or go to the dance, what did your father say to you when you asked him? “Go ask your Mother if she says it’s okay, you can go!” When Dad wanted to buy something he didn’t need,who did he ask for permission to purchase? Hmm? Who?

      Now I ask, who ran your home?

      Some of us men have try to sympathize with our female counterparts. We can never truly know what a woman has to endure. We can never truly understand what it feels like to be seen as a sexual object. We can NEVER know the shame of having been violated mentally, sexually and physically. No, we never can, but we can stand beside our Sisters, Mothers and Wives and fight for that which we men take for granted……..The right to Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

      Some respect wouldn’t hurt either.

      Sorry for the rant. I got lost in the moment.

      • RedDragon I appreciate your honesty.

        I do not want to go with the moment, but, cannot resist… when I hand pick an undergrad to work with, and then bring him on-board when he graduates, and I teach him everything I know, and then the all-male environment I am in, takes him under their wing, and extend to him every consideration which was never extended to me, and this new colleague has actually become my friend, so I ask him, “what is it you know that I do not, is it a secret handshake?” and jr. colleague is silent, does not deny, does not defend, but actually, accepts gladly and freely the mentoring extended to him by sr. sr. male colleagues… well, then, that, for everyone who is wondering, is what the freaking patriarchy is.

        As I said to one young colleague, when he mentioned that “there are distinct differences between men and women”, that, “the biggest difference between men and women is who benefits from the patriarchy”, young colleague said “I am NOT having this conversation with you”

        So yes, men ARE aware of it, and being competitive, like everyone in the human race, take every advantage. Its natural selection at work. Survival of the fittest. If the female sex can figure out how to grow out that stump of a Y chromosome and manage to procreate, men are done for anyway 😉

        • My God, this is a depressing conversation. I’ll add a story of my own, which is unfolding as we speak. I am working on a fairly run-of-the-mill civil lawsuit right now, and litigating it in a fairly run-of-the-mill manner. I am neither a shrinking violet nor a shrieking banshee. Since the complaint was filed, the young male lawyer on the other side (who is 10 years younger than me) has referred to me as “the secretary” (I am lead counsel), has berated me for failing to be “nice” (i.e., give him exactly what he wants), has sent me letters referring to my filings as “revealing” in a very creepy kind of way, and has refused to speak to me. I finally added a slightly-junior guy to help me out — somebody I work with fairly often. Now, the lawyer on the other side will ONLY speak to Junior Guy, even when I am on the same telephone call or present at the same meeting. He also sends letters only to Junior Guy even though both Junior Guy and I have told him that he needs to address me. Junior Guy is generally a pretty enlightened guy, yet when I pointed out all this and more, it took him another three months of this BS for him to realize yep, it really IS, probably, because I’m a girl.

          We then added a more-junior person onto the team because we are getting close to trial. She attended a meeting with opposing lawyers and Junior Guy this week. She was at first mistaken for a secretary (lucky her, she is both a girl AND a minority). After she corrected that misimpression — opposing lawyers addressed themselves only to Junior Guy.

          It took her all of half an hour to connect the dots, the ones that Junior Guy (as much as I think he is smart and good at what he does and really, a very good guy who I love working with) couldn’t connect for close to six months.

          • Oh, I hear ya Sister… every since they permitted me to start cloning me (i.e. funded more positions to help me out) the sr. sr. (one a chinese malaysian, the other a “distinguished older gent”) do NOT work with or talk to me, only Jr. me’s, unless the jr/ me’s are all out on vacay. or sick. Funny how the younger sr sr men do work with me, although I have noticed my 1st clone trying to create an exclusivity exemption, where HE is the go-to guy. He is going on to Med School, and if I could find women undergrads (there ARE none, and the ones there are are going on to B-School anyway {who am I to trap them in an academia where they are second and third class citizens}- though that may be changing in the coming future) I would. I have however, been looking at a growing pool of women undergrads in other disciplines who I might be able to bring over as interns and coops ~ and take it from there.

            Or, I may be forced, due to mismanagement of the endowment, to go without any help at all, with a budget ca. 2004… At any rate, over the past 4 years, I have come to understand perhaps, why female animals sometimes cannibalize their young! 😈

      • (Not to be even more depressing or anything, but . . . . I disagree that no man can know what it is to be degraded. Any human being can know what it is to be humiliated, or violated mentally. Physical violation, well, come on, you just weren’t thinking. Happens all the time. And last, the one one men often delude themselves into thinking they’re safe from: Men can be easily violated sexually. They just aren’t. What did you think some of that Abu Ghraib stuff was about? Torture using sex. That’s the definition of rape.

        You can feel for those human beings known as women. You’re one of them.)

    • Several years ago, my husband came this-close to dying from horribly botched emergency surgery at a small town h hospital in northern IL. I spent several weeks concentrating every atom of my being on trying to save him – battling arrogant, condescending (male) doctors every step of the way. On more than one occasion, I ended up yelling at some of them in my ferocious quest to keep my husband alive. They scorned me, belittled me, even despised me, but in the end I won. A second surgeon at UW Hospital-Madison, who couldn’t have been more wonderful, more competent, more respectful of my being, saved my husband’s life at the last minute. The long and almost fatal delay in hospital transfers was caused by those SOBs who would NOT listen to me, a woman. To this day, I have hateful thoughts about them. I’m still trying to conquer the impulse toward revenge.

  3. Three anecdotes that may or may not be germane to this post:
    From an article I read somewhere about female gynecologists back when there weren’t that many. Women patients liked the idea but weren’t sure they were as good as male doctors.
    The pilot of the Star Trek TV series had Nurse Chapel as First Officer about the Enterprise but Sci-Fi fans were too reactionary. Too important position for a mere woman. I won’t get into the Star Trek uniform thing.
    A grade school friend showing off his collection of promo cars.
    Back then the auto makers commissioned model companies to make reproductions of their products. His mother would send off for them. He would show them to me and tell me that certain color schemes were for girls as he laid then out. Thus a Corvette, white with gold inserts was a girl’s car. Go figure.

  4. Manhaters!

    {runs away with hands covering family jewels)

    • 😆 I haven’t even bought the motorcycle yet! And here you are running already…darn. 🙄

      • Do get one. I love my motorcycle. Definitely take a motorcycle safety class though. In my state they count as the drivers test for your license and you get a big discount on insurance because of it. And it’s just a good idea.

        There are lots of great riding clubs too.

        • Have you heard of the HOT SHOTS? Those wild ones, that text and then meet up and do stunts! I run into them all the time…I some times stop and think of one HOT SHOT (before texting) and remember the day he was not longer a HOT SHOT. That is the reason I didn’t pursue the riding bit, but I think my eldest is now fully grown and could handle such an event. I am hoping the eldest doesn’t have a good memory and can’t remember the promise made so long ago never to ride again.

        • I just want to ride with the Dykes on Bikes in the Pride Parade.

  5. There are a number of obvious biases pretty well ingrained in our (and most) societies: male preference, light skin preference, tall preference, attractive preference, light hair preference, etc. And those biases show up all over the place. Some overt and some not as much. Some have had enough attention that people are aware of them and there is at least some effort to push back or draw attention to problems.

    With gender bias, and maybe this is true with all biases, there seem to have been periods of some progress followed by periods of backlash. I think we are in a period of some backlash for gender bias. When the issue is mentioned in some circles there is a lot of whining from sadly both males and females that those issues aren’t really problems. Adam is a perfect case in point. And of course a lot of stuff we saw during the last election cycle.

    To me it seems to all come down to respect.

    • Biases can be more complex than your outline. While taller men seem to have a higher rate of reproductive success, it’s the opposite in women (shorter women have the higher rate). Whether this is a male preference for short women or a female preference for tall men is debatable (it’s probably a bit of both). I also think the lighter skin/hair thing is way over rated. A lot of fair skinned, fair haired people seem to think it exists but I just don’t see it.

      But I agree with your basic point. We are in a period of intense backlash against gender equality.

      • I agree that it’s all a bit more complex than that. And certainly there are a lot biology at play in where some biases come from. But there is simply no excuse nonetheless. Especially when the situation is not about choosing a mate. For example, why on earth were people surprised when Susan Boyle could sing well. What on earth do her outward appearances have to do with her voice. It’s all very weird.

  6. And what about us poor oppressors? No one things about us. You know, it’s not easy oppressing day in and day out. It’s a lot of work. You take one day off and you could lose years of work. There’s just no respect for the amount of work we have to do. And the trouble we have to put up with. You know, some days I question whether all the work is really worth it. Then I see two little kids playing and watch the little boy beating up on the little girl and a smile comes over my face and I think, yes, it’s all worth it. (Snark, as if you didn’tn know)

  7. Didn’t more women vote for the TBP than men? Aren’t women a bigger share of the Dem party than men? While not excusing sexism in men, I think the big question is “Why don’t more women vote for women?”

    • You can’t base who wins an election on the votes cast because it’s been proven that the elections process is broken and corrupt. Machines can be manipulated, caucuses gamed and procedures not followed, in order to put the person the party leaders (under the authority of the “invisible” power elite who truly run this country) want into power. Obama is a perfect example of this.

      The real issue that must be addressed is that we cannot take back our country and elect women into power positions until we take back our elections. By that I mean, hand counting the votes by hand, at the precinct on election night, keeping the ballot box in view and under video surveilance all day until the polls close and it is opened in public, in front of citizens.

      Unless we can demand that kind of change in our elections, citizens will never have a voice in who is put into power. Remember, you can’t vote them out, if you didn’t vote them in!

      • I agree with this. I’ve been wondering what in the world I can do to make sure this kind of despicable election hijacking doesn’t occur again. Well, this election taught me that appealing to the Dem party isn’t going to accomplish squat.

        I keep coming back to the voting process, this is the only way to check the corruption. On No Quarter they are discussing this a lot but I’ve had my mom visiting and haven’t kept up. I want to get involved. Anyone here have any experiences to share?

        • EricaLeigh,

          FYI, I will be one of the experts leading the discussion at NoQuarter tomorrow night. I brought the documentary film “Hacking Democracy” to NQ’s attention the work Bev Harris and I did investigating and documening election issues (which is features in the documentary).

          If you want to hear about “shared experiences” on this issue, please join us tomorrow night at 9:00 pm EST and watch the documentary and participate in the discussion. That would be a great start in getting involved.

        • Hi Erica. I don’t know, if this could be of any help, but these are facts about the electoral system in Denmark.

          And I would say we have some pretty damn democratic elections here. 🙂


    • Yes! Too many women out there are very good at shooting themselves in the foot by sabotaging other women in subtle and not so subtle ways. I was dumbfounded at the number of women voters who carefully blinded themselves to the rampant sexism involved in the mighty push to elevate Obama, to the trampling and trashing of Hillary in the process. I know many women with young daughters, who ardently supported Obama. Some of these women had no qualms about taking potshots at Hillary. I was simply stunned by this, not to mention deeply depressed.

  8. Very nice post Riverdaughter!

  9. Jesus! I just read the transcript. What a numbskull. Kudos to Professor Warren for not decking him then and there.

  10. Just learned about Digigirlz, a technology program that Microsoft offers to young girls.

    Saw some lovely, energetic, confident young girls, who more or less said: “Get out of the way! Here we come!” LOL!

    Very encouraging.


  11. Terrific post, RD – I could give you stories that would curl your hair.

    I was a Director at one of NJ’s engineering schools a number of years ago – the male professors actually didn’t want any girls in their classes and treated them pretty shabbily. Not to mention that when the female student’s graduated they started at $5,000 to 12,000 less than their male counterparts – even those with better grades and capabilities 😦

  12. Right on, Riverdaughter. I wrote to NPR about Davidson as well. This is truly pathetic.

  13. It is completely about respect, and the utter lack of respect for WOMAN. I’m seeing this playing out increasingly in my teenage nieces.

    But to add to the list of those automatically oppressed … not only if you look young but if you are friendly toward people or just wear a smile … if you are nice they automatically expect you to be stupid. I’ve encountered this too many times. & not just sports and science, but men never expect women to know anything about politics & don’t take what they say on this matter seriously.

    • The flip side is if you know what you want and aggressively pursue it then you are often considered a b-tch. Nevermind that those kind of traits in males are considered positive traits. Being female in a male dominant world means straddling a thin line.

  14. It’s incredibly hard to believe we are in a period like this post what the 60’s did for women. Actually — almost impossible to believe it — but that may be CA speaking. What bothers me is that the feminists of Hillary’s gen savaged her. I see her on the news and she looks exhausted — probably because she is doing a JOB and taking it seriously.

    Like all of us have?

    It’s unreal.

  15. Re attitudes: way back in the paleolithic, meaning the 1970s, a couple of psych profs did an experiment of handing out the same term paper to a group of students. On half the author was female, on half it was male. The exact same paper, and the supposedly female-authored one received consistently lower grades, from both male and female students. (That last bit is probably the biggest heartbreaker of all. And it means the “Overcome it” goes for more than just guys, doesn’t it?)

    Every time someone looks at any related situation, the results are always the same.

    Which tells you what affirmative action is really for. It’s not needed to give the disadvantaged a chance. It’s needed to get through the thick skulls of the doofuses doing the hiring.

    • Yup, for me the biggest heart break was listening to the ‘Women Studies’ professor (a woman) go on and on about Obama, and making like Hillary was chopped liver. 😦

  16. Girl’s schools are the best-we never had any of these problems-and, we were very big on science.

    We respected all of our trail blazing, and dedicated women teachers.

    • I’ve seen studies that agree with that. Until we have more equity in these areas, separate schools sound like a good idea. Sad really.

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