Although it is now acceptable for women in the United States to take a
professional rather than a purely domestic role in society, society has yet to raise
its little girls differently to accommodate the change, resulting in sparse
populations of women in technological fields.
As my rebuttal will demonstrate, this is a false conclusion to reach.
The fact that event A preceeded event B does not mean event A caused
event B. There is no causal relationship between the events you name above,
and as I will prove below, little correlation as well.
...continue to be the only toys marketed toward girls, with few exceptions.
In today's toy stores, you will frequently find pictures of little girls
and little boys on traditional "boy's toys". There has been a huge push by
modern feminists to guide girls towards more masculine toys. Elementary teachers
frequently encourage girls to play with legos, and other "male" toys, in our
public schools. Marketing, such as found in TV advertisements and packaging
materials, have both boys and girls on them. It is not the marketing that
is to blame - they have tried.
A better explanation comes from Hasbro Toys, which "tested a playhouse the
company was considering marketing to both boys and girls. But it soon emerged that
girls and boys did not interact with the structure in the same way. The girls
dressed the dolls, kissed them, and played house; the boys catapulted the toy baby
carriage from the roof. A Hasbro general manager came up with an explanation: boys
and girls are different." [Source: Paul Davis, "Danes Discover Difference Between
Boys and Girls: For Years Hasbro Has Known the Difference", Providence
Journal-Bulletin, September 12, 1995. p. 1E.]
girls are gently nudged into the still-existing paradigm of woman's place in
By whom? The Department of Education has allocated massive amounts of funding
persuant to Title IX to correct "gender inequity". Clearly, it is not our public
institutions that are doing this. Popular media isn't doing it either - pictures
of girls playing with boy's toys are commonplace - simply tune in around 1:30-4:00p
local time and watch the commercials. Who's left?
The result is adult women who fit into that paradigm, and adult men in turn
being blamed for the lack of women in predominantly male fields because of
Again, you make a logical fallacy that because Event A preceeded Event B, Event
A caused Event B. An (at least) equally plausible explanation would be that boys and
girls are different, physically, and have certain behaviors "hard-wired" into them.
However, I will agree that men are being blamed.
Although there is no denying that there are some sexist males in high places,
this is by no means the reason of the absence of feminine presence.
So we've eliminated popular media, education, and the workplace environment as
causes, if I follow you so far. If you still doubt education is the cause, I would
direct you to one of the dozens of government
sites which are trying to reverse this "trend".
It is because they are not raised like boys are: to ask questions, to figure
out how things work, to do things on their own. Women are often more ready to accept
that things work where as men are more likely to want to know why. Therefore the
presence of women in fields requiring precisely that quality is lacking.
This is essentially a thinly-veiled "Nature v. Nurture" argument. Let me
assure you that Nature wins this one.
According to a report by the National Council for Research On Women...
Okay, I have a strong inclination to plug some information here about the
political bias of this organization, and do an analysis on where it gets most
of its funding, but I won't disagree with the conclusion you claim they have
reached (this time):
one way to get girls more interested in studying the sciences is by
cooperative, hands-on learning.
That's good advice. Is there any evidence this is not occurring? I
recall in biology class girls having to dissect frogs (I also recall many
pleas that they be excempted - which the teacher denied), I recall them in my
chemistry and physical science classes, and I do believe that under the "liberal
arts" education system we have today, they're exposed to this quite a bit.
Since virtually nothing of this sort is ever marketed toward girls
This has already been demonstrated as false (see above comments)
they lose their early chances of developing an interest in technology and
science in general.
This implies an irreversible trend - that behaviors learned early on cannot
be reversed. This has only some merit, from a psychological perspective. However,
the argument is wholly irrelevant, since the premise that girls are being
shortchanged in terms of "hands on" education is false.
In addition to my own experiences as a woman beginning my college
You just jumped from early education to high school in the span of one sentence.
There are developmental differences between someone who's in their mid-twenties
and someone who's nine years old.
"Yeah, it's easy. It's just like Legos."
The use of anecdotal stories in place of hard data is misguided at best,
and harmful at worse. You can't say that women as a whole are being kept away from
hands-on experience, and thus not gravitating towards the sciences, and then base
it on your own personal experience with a small number of men.
Further discussion reveals the facets of their respective childhoods. The
women who show less confidence in their technical abilities have genuinely had a
less technical childhood.
Everyone who starts on a new project begins filled with self-doubt and anxiety
over their capabilities. It's not simply women who have "less confidence". To drive
home the point, look at men who become fathers - are they filled with a lack of
confidence and self-doubt over parenting - perhaps lacking skills that women develop
earlier in life, by playing with dolls, house, etc.? Does this mean the expectations
of fathers should be lowered - that women should assume a larger role in taking care
of the children, as a result?
Still, as I study computer sciences, every once in awhile a feeling of being
ill-equipped creeps upon me, and I feel like many women I have talked to and
observed: less than confident about my technical abilities.
I've been faced with difficult to solve computer problems as well. Dealing with a
customer who's on the phone "live" with a network of a thousand computers that are
all non-responsive, running down a checklist of problems and finding that all the
solutions you've been trained to try, have failed... that the programmers who
designed the product keep muttering "It can't happen!", and having a manager and two
coworkers breathing down your neck because you're the "fix it guy", yeah, I can say
that I too have at times been less than confident about my technical abilities. I
again reiterate: This is not a problem limited to women.
Your argument thus far, if I state it in formal terms, has been as follows:
- 1. Girls do not get hands-on experience with technology.
- 2. Girls are not encouraged to use technology.
- 3. Therefore, because of (1) and (2), they develop self-confidence problems.
- 4. ConclusionP: These self-confidence problems lead to fewer women joining the
The premises which this argument is based on is wholly false - girls do
get hands on experience, they are being encouraged to use technology - both
in the "adult" world by means of affirmative action and pro-women groups, and
propaganda messages by the media, as well as in school by teachers.
So much blame is put on the present male-dominated technical world for the
lack of female presence,
In other words, the blame is on men. I notice you don't go as far as to say
that the responsibility for correction thus falls on men (thank you).
but does nothing to change how women see themselves from the very
Not only is there intent, but there is obviously action being taken. This
has not changed things.
Present-day toy marketing has much in common with that of the first quarter of
the 20th century,
It has almost nothing in common with the "first quarter of the 20th century".
That was an age when male/female roles were much more clearly defined, and there
was more of a "caste" system of gender in place. Toys were not nearly as
sophisticated, television didn't exist, and toys were not mass-produced at nearly
the level they are today. The social dynamics of the early 20th century compared
to today are almost completely at odds with each other, and the role of toys has
likewise changed dramatically.
This article tries to, but fails, to conclude that the reason women are not
in the technical fields is because they are not given opportunities earlier, or
later, in life to experience "hands-on" learning with technology, and are forced
into roles. The conclusion I have reached, based on a lot more research than
anecdotal stories and popular rhetoric, is that women are hardwired differently than
Based on recent psychological studies, definate differences in the brain have
been observed with women, most notably the enlarged "connector" between the two
hemispheres (who's name escapes me presently), and the fact that women process
information differently than men. Men have consistently scored higher on visual
spatialization - the ability to rotate a multi-dimensional object inside your
head. This is due to actual, physical differences in the brain, which have been
traced to testosterone's influence on the fetus, and early childhood development.
Likewise, women seem better equipped to handle language, as demonstrated MRI scans
showing that women use multiple parts of the brain for auditory and speech
centers, whereas men have only one region used - in the prefrontal area.
In short, men and women are wired differently and this is why you see
the large statistical gap. While I commend efforts to allow women who do not
fall squarely on the bell curve, and who can get into these professions and
have the drive to do so, the efforts of many to reverse this trend is doomed to fail. Mother Nature is not a feminist, to quote a famous parody. Your article is misleading and factually flawed. I will, however, compliment you on refraining from stating the party line - namely, that "male-dominated society" is the cause.
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.