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The Bell Curve

Julia A. Keith Julia.A.Keith at DARTMOUTH.EDU
Thu Feb 23 16:25:39 EST 1995

--- Pearse Ward wrote:
In a recent study of recent college graduates, Statistics Canada found
that the starting salaries of recent female college graduates, were equal
to or higher than those of their male classmates.
--- end of quoted material ---
That means squat-there are similar numbers of men and women in graduate school,
too, but you don't find even a third of faculty positions in science being held
by women (in our department, it's a dismal <10%).  Looking at starting salaries
tells you nothing about women's economic base-looking at where they end
up-where they hit the glass ceiling, does. 

He also wrote
----------------------------Exactly where it belongs. I think the attitudes you
are concerned about
are part of history fo the majority of people.
You must run with a nice crowd, Pearse.  In my ivory tower academic
environment, people may laugh at The Bell Curve and those attitudes.  However,
when I go home to my working class Vermont town, or my hometown in
Massachusetts, or my sweetheart's hometown in Pennsylvannia, or his present
town in Texas-all over the country-a significant portion of the people there
are convinced they have a right to be bigoted because they have "scientific
proof".  Most don't care how faulty the logic is.  I wish these attitudes were
history, but most people don't understand scientific proof, and don't want to
make the effort.

As to gender differences research-this is a whole 'nother thread.  It has
become quite popular to show that men and women are biologically different (big
surprise!).  This is then used as justification for discrimination, from the
subtle to the blatant. (I, for one, am sick of being told I have bad spatial
relations skills and excellent verbal skills because some study somewhere said
that IN GENERAL boys do better on spatial problems and girls do better on
verbal ones.)  While the studies are correct, the difference is slight, and the
generalization is just that.   In actuality, all of the cognitive differences
found to date are very small, and vary more among individuals within a gender
than between genders.  The popular press in looking for a "results" line to
pass on in the evening news misses this small tidbit.

While I think Jill overreacted a bit to The Bell Curve (my opinion), I think
some of Pearse's statements reflect a rose colored view of the world as it is.

Soapbox for the day,
Julia Keith

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