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Women, Men, Science, and Communication

Eric Fairfield fairfiel at trail.com
Wed Mar 27 14:18:56 EST 1996

This question will either generate a lot of agreement or a lot of controversy.  Most likely, it 
will generate both.

My daughter, seventh grade and 11 years old, is very good at science.  Like a number of talented 
kids, she is actually very good at many things.
When I try to teach her about science, I have to ask whether there are differences between men 
and women in their approach to science.  I know that there have been different socializations; 
but if I undo the socialization what differences are left.

I have tried to analyze the many men and women that I have had as mentors, colleagues, and 
workers.  I find, to my surprise, that while there are some differences between men and women the 
majority of the variation seems to be between individuals (different people are interested in 
different things) and in the mentors that these individuals have had.

I used to assume that men and women were very different but my experience says that the 
differences between sexes are smaller than I expected while the differences between individuals 
are larger than I expected.

I am trying to do as well as I can with my daughter.  I often feel that I am making it up as we 
go along and that the most important and hardest part of this is to maintain clear, understood 
communication between us.  Clear communication between people is surprisingly difficult.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Eric Fairfield

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