Happy Graduation, Men!

Happy Graduation, Men!

It’s graduation season and I recently went to Tucson to attend my brother’s graduation from the civil engineering program at the University of Arizona. I am so proud of him for making it successfully to graduation and know he’s going to have a bright future as a civil engineer.

However, at his college graduation ceremony I noticed something particularly disturbing. There were 32 undergraduates obtaining their civil engineering bachelor degrees and another 18 getting either a masters or PhD. All of these students were men.

Let me repeat that: The University of Arizona awarded 50 students degrees in civil engineering this year and not one went to a woman.

I took to twitter during the ceremony to tweet to @azengineering to find out if they have any plans for recruitment programs aimed at women. I did not receive a response from them, but I did get responses from others on twitter saying they believed that the college shouldn’t do anything special to encourage women in engineering because it was women’s fault for not choosing to go into STEM programs.

This argument absolutely infuriates me because I know first hand what it is like to be actively discouraged from doing engineering programs due to my gender. You see, when I was in middle school I really wanted to be an engineer. I loved to take apart clocks and things to see how they worked and then put them back together. My favorite “toy” was a kit my parents bought me to build my own radio. So, when my middle school offered an engineering course to learn about the various types of engineering and build little bridges and devices, I jumped at the chance to take the class. However, when I showed up on the first day I found I was the only girl in the class. I was actually pretty ok with this. I was a bit of a tom boy and friends with lots of the boys, so at first I thought it was actually pretty cool that I was the only girl. What I couldn’t of anticipated was the level of harassment I would receive based only on my gender.

The boys actively complained when I was put into their team because they didn’t want to have to work with “the girl.” They made fun of me, saying that I must actually be a boy since I was in the boy class with them. Even the teacher addressed the class as “boys,” sometimes adding “and Jamie” as an afterthought. The teacher and the rest of the class made it clear to me that they did not think I belonged there. 13-year old me was hurt and embarrassed and now dreaded going to the class that I previously had been so excited about. I vowed to never take a class like that again and only stick to classes that had a good amount of other girls in them, even if I didn’t like the subject as much.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if the teacher had actively tried to encourage me and made me feel welcome, or if I could have met some women engineers and heard about their experiences. Maybe five years down the road when I was entering college I would have chosen engineering, but that wasn’t the way it happened. I was actively harassed for being a girl interested in STEM fields. I was made to feel unwelcome, as if I had to give up my gender and my girliness to have a chance at becoming an engineer.

This is why it makes me so angry when women are blamed for their own lack of representation in STEM fields. It’s also why I blame the University for the lack of diversity in their graduating engineering classes. The lack of women isn’t because girls just don’t like STEM fields, but because they are actively discouraged and made to feel unwelcome. The University of Arizona’s College of Engineering should recognize the lack of diversity in this year’s graduating civil engineering class as a serious oversight. They should inspect their recruiting programs to make sure they are actively encouraging women to apply to the college and inspect their classes and programs to make sure they aren’t seeing disproportionate numbers of women dropping out, which might mean that the engineering school itself is a hostile atmosphere for women. They also should consider investing in an outreach program to local schools in Arizona designed to encourage women to enter STEM fields. Encouraging gender diversity will make the Arizona College of Engineering a more competitive program, increase the quality of graduating students, and increase opportunity for women in a field in which they have historically been shut out.

Before I end this post, I also want to point out some good news on the STEM front. Beth from Mad Art Lab, after seeing my tweets about the lack of women civil engineer graduates at the University of Arizona, informed me that UIC’s graduating civil engineering class was about one third women this year. Great job UIC on clearly creating a comfortable and welcome atmosphere for women in engineering.

One last congrats to my brother and all 2013 graduates!

Jamie is a data, stats, policy and economics nerd who sometimes pretends she is a photographer. You can usually find her at skeptic events in Chicago or on Twitter or Flickr. She also blogs about photography at Catching Photons.

80 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s terrible. I graduated a few years ago with a degree in Structural Engineering, and about 1/3 of us were women. My school had a great programs set up for women. The Society of Women Engineers reached out to high schools around the state to promote engineering to the high school girls and their parents. There was an orientation set up that almost all the freshmen girls attended where we arrived a few days early and were given tours by a bunch of the older girls. That way I was able to make friends and feel comfortable with the campus and everything available to me before all the boys showed up.

  2. ‘This is why it makes me so angry when women are blamed for their own lack of representation in STEM fields. It’s also why I blame the University for the lack of diversity in their graduating engineering classes. The lack of women isn’t because girls just don’t like STEM fields, but because they are actively discouraged and made to feel unwelcome’

    Well….

    Not so long ago women were absolutely excluded from very prestigious, very well-paid professions such as medicine and law. Even after universities finally got round to admitting women it took some of time for women to equal and sometimes exceed the numbers of men. Medicine in the UK, for example, attracts more women than men at undergraduate level. Women still haven’t achieved parity at the very top of the professions – cohort effects of course, and taking time out to raise children will be at least part of the explanation there.

    So why not engineering? After all, engineering doesn’t have anything like the cachet, the prestige, of medicine and law so you might have expected it to be less jealously guarded by The Patriarchy, more likely to fall to the waves of women pouring into the subject. If the problem starts earlier in education, how is it that didn’t apply to medicine and law?

    I’d ask: why – from a skeptical pov on a skeptical blog – are we ruling out of bounds the Larry Summers possibility? That some innate differences may be a contributing factor?

    Here’s Pinker’s take on the matter:

    http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2005_02_14_newrepublic.html

    • Congratulations on finally jumping the shark.

    • I’d ask: why – from a skeptical pov on a skeptical blog – are we ruling out of bounds the Larry Summers possibility? That some innate differences may be a contributing factor?

      Are you fucking serious, here?

      I can’t even.

      This is just not worth it.

      It’s 2013, masturbator man.

      • Some feminists insist, against the evidence, that there are no significant differences between the sexes. It’s a mistake to base a moral position on scientific facts, because then you either have to insist that the facts conform to your moral desires, or your moral position is vulnerable to falsification.

        • Yawn.

          • Maybe you could ask Rebecca to take it up with Steve

    • You have an agenda, not skepticism in mind.

    • “I’d ask: why – from a skeptical pov on a skeptical blog – are we ruling out of bounds the Larry Summers possibility? That some innate differences may be a contributing factor? ”
      Metaburbia, here is some evidence from a primary source
      http://www.psych.rochester.edu/people/reis_harry/assets/pdf/CarothersReis_2012.pdf

      • So having read alll of that, back to the abstract:

        <em.Average differences between men and women are not under dispute,

        I’m not clear what you think that paper is adding to the debate?

        • You… you are absolutely kidding, right? I mean, there’s a whole second half to that sentence:

          Average differences between men and women are not under dispute, but the dimensionality of gender indicates that these differences are inappropriate for diagnosing gender-typical psychological variables on the basis of sex. [emphasis added]

          And if you read the conclusion:

          At least with regard to the measures we examined,therefore, it can be concluded that they unambiguously represent exemplars of the same underlying attributes rather than qualitatively distinct categories of human characteristics.

          In other words, they’re saying that the psychological traits they studied (which include science inclination) do have average differences, there is a very significant amount of overlap. They’re basically saying that (and I’m making up numbers here just to illustrate the point) if we rate, say, science inclination on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being most inclined, then men might rate from 40-85, while women might rate from 35-80. An average difference, yes, but it’s a continuum with a lot of overlap, not a binary, either/or distinction. And that, I think, makes this paper very germane to the discussion here. Average differences with the amount of overlap they discuss in that paper means that a class of fifty students with no women is unlikely to be entirely due to “innate differences.”

          • Bah, my markup didn’t work. Pretend there was actually emphasis added where I say “emphasis added” for the second clause of the quote.

          • No, he’s not kidding. He’s just not a particularly bright troll.

          • MarlowePI, great job reading that paper. Often turgid papers like that may be hard to read but have excellent data.and the results in this case totally pwned meta’s argument.

            If he was an honest man he would have debated on the substance, but instead I guarrantee he never got past the abstract and so dismissed the whole thing. So much for his much vaunted and ill deserved superiority complex.

    • The very arguments you rely on re STEM fields – innate biological differences, women simply not being interested in and/or suited to the necessaries of the profession – were the excuses used to try and keep women out of medicine and law. Now that women have finally pushed back and made significant inroads, suddenly those excuses have disappeared, and the narrative is retconned into ‘it was only ever bigotry’, because to do otherwise would force essentialists such as yourself to admit they were wrong.

      The comparisons in this thread to The Bell Curve are apt. Once upon a time, advocates of racial differences in IQ posited that the Irish or Italians had lower average IQ, and “proved” that with science, because those ethnicities were not considered “white”. Now they are, and now those advocates pretend that belief never existed. It confuses their narrative, just as your narrative desperately requires you to pretend that your arguments about STEM were never applied the same way to women in medicine and law.

  3. Is it just an article of faith with you or do you have an argument?

    • Are we going to do ‘The Bell Curve’ and ‘race realists’ next?

      • It’s just so boring, punchdrunk. I want a better troll. :(

        • Yeah, no passion, no heart. Just sits on the screen, blahblahblah.
          Where’s the performance, the skill, the love of the art?
          Very disappointing. No stars.

          • Also no ability whatsoever to parse evidence presented to him.

            Or, he’s not being genuine or honest in his arguments.

            TAKE A PICK! I bet it’s #1.

      • 150 years ago metaburb would be assuring women that reading would give them brain fever. The more things change, the more some don’t

        • i hope he doesn’t respond to this. it won’t even be fun to read.

      • No. But I see for you the possibility of innate differences is a an article of faith.

  4. I am a (male) third-year graduate student in a College of Engineering in the Midwest, and I remember the orientation meeting in my first week. I was very, very disappointed to see that the entire room (at least 50 new first-years) was men. There was not a single woman entering with us that year. We have very, very few women graduate students in our department, and the year I started there weren’t any at all.

    Initially I felt the school had a serious issue. My initial assumption was that the faculty were to blame. This was of a theme with the fact that our main research building is so old, it was built with only men’s bathrooms. There are exactly two women’s bathrooms now, 11 floors apart, but they’re the size of corner offices. (Because they used to be corner offices.)

    But since my first year I have come to realize that the situation in our department is more complicated. One needs to be cautious about accusing a school of being at fault for having no female students in a STEM field.

    I am not suggesting that no work needs to be done, because we definitely need to fix this, but I want to argue that the fix may not be at the University level.

    Now that I’ve been part of the department and gotten to know the workings of the faculty, I have seen MANY women invited to our open houses and actively pursued with Fellowships and other enticements to try to get a better gender balance in our department. ANY female student that has the potential to succeed will get a very nice offer from us. And we make a lot of those offers. But note that we have a pretty good idea of what applicants can run the gauntlet. Our department has very tough qualifying exams after the first year, which you MUST pass to continue in your PhD program. If you can’t pass these, you get kicked out. We have great female applicants at the open houses. Not nearly as many as we have men, but they’re there, and we make offers. We do a lot to try to get them to join us. We even show off the massive bathrooms.

    BUT… and this is the insight I want to share… in our specialty (plasma physics) there are two other big schools on the East Coast that we compete with year after year for the top three positions in the field. When ranked, the best schools in the world take turns at number 1, 2, and 3. We’re on the list and sometimes #1. But the other two are BIG name brands. We aren’t.

    This is why our orientation in my first year was a sausage fest. Any female STEM graduate in our field got offers from all three schools, and good offers, and many inducements to try to recruit them. Flights, hotel, tours of our great little city, the works. As a third-year I’m asked to help make the pitch, and we try SO HARD with women to get them to pick us. But when facing three offers, and when two are the top names in the world, and one is… not so much… which one do these women choose? Hint: It’s not us.

    And I would be willing to bet it isn’t the University of Arizona in engineering either. The best schools are making competitive offers for any women STEM students they can get, and women aren’t STUPID. They’re going to the best schools. I can hardly blame them. But it makes the “almost best” schools look like dicks for not recruiting enough women.

    And please don’t tell us to lower standards on who we make offers to. There are already a few students each year that bonk out on the quals and can’t get their PhDs. Most of them are men because most of the grads that accept our offers are men. Our high standards are the reason we’re always in the running for the top 3 positions in the world in our field.

    As far as I am concerned, Jaime’s story about her teenage experience — LONG before University — is the place to work on this problem. Women are being discouraged when they’re still little girls. We need FAR MORE women coming out of high school ready to rock in STEM. By the time Universities are making offers, there’s too few of them, and second-tiers (or first-tiers with less name recognition) simply cannot compete, and end up lopsided with men.

    I hope this makes sense. I’m on painkillers atm. Sorry.

    • In my observation as a non-engineer but mom to a daughter who is heartily drawn to STEM– or I should say STEAM, she wants to do all the things– yes, and studies agree with you. We do have to start at the upper elementary to middle school level, and keep at it in earnest in order to combat all the messages girls receive that hard science stuff is boy stuff. Sixth grade and my daughter was one of just three girls who took her Technology, Innovation, and Design class. Three. We do need to start recruiting and supporting girls into the sciences much earlier than college, to nurture natural curiosity when it peeks up and create an atmosphere of encouragement.

      But, that means naught once they get to college if they have to battle a boy’s club once they are there. Even the big name schools for all their prestige could have high rates of transfer, drop-outs, and major switching if they don’t support their women STEM students once they arrive on campus. All the high pressure recruiting and big offers in the world mean absolutely nothing if the male classmates treat their fellow female students like an exception rather than the rule, if all the profs are men who address the class as if there are no women in it or the women are there for the ogling, decoration, if the women students have to work twice as hard for half the recognition. It’s the othering. It’s the exceptionalism. It’s.. having to travel eleven goddamned floors between bathrooms. It’s the chilly climate that is talked about in forums such as this one all too frequently.

      Yes, encourage girls from a younger age. Also work on the chilly climate in collegiate settings. Do both.

      • I agree that Universities still have work to do. But in my undergraduate math degree, the math department had a much higher fraction of women, probably close enough to half that all my classes (right up to the most senior) had a good mix. I don’t recall this hostile environment at all. Obviously I’m a guy, so perhaps I just couldn’t see it, but my sense is that if there were more candidates, and more balance in the departments, much of what you’re describing would not survive long. I suspect that starting from the top schools who can attract the most women, this is already happening, which is part of what keeps them at the top. My undergraduate math department was considered the best in its specialty. So that’s a data point for me.

        Women who go into these male-dominated departments first, they’re brave, and I’m proud of them. I just wish there were so many of them entering that it wasn’t exceptional anymore. Then all that would be left is to weed out the remaining sexists and move on to other challenges.

        • Ugh. I hate the argument that because the problem is at the K-12 level, then Universities are off-the-hook for solving it. Universities already do a ton of K-12 outreach. If they’re having issues getting diverse applicants for their STEM programs, rather than making excuses about the applicant pool, they should be putting an emphasis on K-12 STEM outreach to young girls so that a couple years down the line they might have a more diverse pool of applicants to choose from.

          My bad experience that caused me to abandon STEM was at the middle school level, but had I been exposed to a University program where I got to meet and talk to some awesome women engineers, I might have stuck with it rather than quitting so early. At the time I honestly thought that there were no women engineers or that all women engineers had to somehow give up their woman-hood in order to become engineers. Just meeting a couple women in engineering could have changed my life.

      • I agree with onamission5. Early outreach is super important, but it can’t just end with recruiting women into those fields. You need to keep them there, and that means taking the atmosphere and how all students treat each other very seriously.

  5. Being Canadian anytime the topic of women in engineering comes up my mind automatically leaps to the École Polytechnique massacre even after all these years. And then there was the infamous UBC Engineers Lady Godiva ride which led to us ladies calling the engineering students “Jocks that can do math” with disdain.

  6. Maybe what is needed is something like this
    http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/women-engineering

    • Yay!! I never made it far enough to know what support there is for women who go into engineering, but it’s nice to know there are organizations out there working on this issue.

  7. Of course, there is also this
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/giving-the-hard-hat-away-why-women-engineers-quit/story-e6frgcjx-1226142605381
    Even Australia’s flagship Murdoch rag supports what Jamie is saying!

    • Ugh. It’s nice to see articles written about this, but it’s just sad that articles have to be written about this.

  8. The UK has a much lower percentage of female engineers than either the US, Canada or Australia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_engineering
    Do attitudes like Metaburbia’s play any part in this do you think?
    Or perhaps the genetics of English women determines this result?

    • My ‘attitude’ is neither here nor there. My view is that it’s an open question whether innate group differences contribute in part to different proportions of men and women entering some subjects. It isn’t an article of faith with me.

      I think there’s a real problem if the Left/Progressives have to insist that can be no differences. They hold themselves a hostage to fortune. If Science later demonstrates to everyone’s satisfaction that there are innate differences, where does that leave the rationale for whatever social programs they’ve instituted that rely upon that article of faith?

      Social justice shouldn’t have to rely upon contingent, tentative and changeable propositions. The necessity to treat individuals fairly shouldn’t depend upon an assertion about the absence of group differences.

      • Hey, it’s Pascal’s Wager for social justice. Nicely done.

        • eh?

          • Oh, wow, you don’t know what that is? You really, really don’t? Wow. I thought you were SO SMART!

            You don’t know what Pascal’s Wager is … how dare you not know something.

            We know something you don’t, neener, neener, you are a stupid poopy head!

          • Also how damn hard is it to google “Pascal’s Wager”? for fuck’s sake. Then you’d understand instead of “eh?”ing. You’re just … so painfully not as bright as you think you are. Anything outside of your little box, and anything outside of what you expect, just wooshes right above your head. Woosh. Wooooooosh.

      • Look up “just world fallacy” and while you’re at it “stereotype threat” and “intergroup anxiety” and “in group favoritism” and… I dunno, maybe just start with basic social psychology and sociology.

        So you have some hypothesis that because of some possible, unspecified innate (the implication is biological) difference between men and women, then that causes women to either not want to do engineering or to not understand how to do engineering. La de fucking da. Look up the actual science in these topics. Inequality and discrimination are a topics that are currently studied. It’s no one’s responsibility here to do your homework for you.

        • >So you have some hypothesis that because of some possible, unspecified innate (the implication is biological) difference between men and women, then that causes women to either not want to do engineering or to not understand how to do engineering.

          Nearly. Not quite. Rather, that some of the difference may be attributable to innate difference. On the face of it it’s at least plausible: there’s no obvious reason to dismiss it offhand. There is reason to be very wary given the history but no reason to claim it cannot be a factor.

          >Look up the actual science in these topics

          Yup, done that. The actual science which you of course haven’t bothered reading acknowledges the existence of innate differences.

          The literature on sex differences in cognitive abilities is filled with inconsistent findings, contradictory theories, and emotional claims that are unsupported by the research. Yet despite all the noise in the data, clear and consistent messages could be heard. There are real and in some cases sizable sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities. Socialization practices are undoubtedly important, but there is also good evidence that biological sex differences play a role in establishing and maintaining cognitive sex differences

          From Sex Differences in Cognitive Ability, Diane Halpern, past President of the American Psychological Association

          • No doubt she’s basing that in the “good evidence” of people like Simon Baron Cohen. But his work has been thoroughly challenged if not roundly debunked. See: “Brain Storm” by Rebecca Jordan-Young and “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine.

            There is no evidence of the “innateness” of gender differences. That something is biological does not mean it is innate–go read some of the literature on biocultural development (like Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “Sexing the Body” or google the work of Jonathan Marks, he makes his articles available for free on his faculty website). You will see that even when things appear to be biologically based that those things can develop because of sociocultural influences on biology. Biological =/= innate. Our biology is not fixed and immutable. Humans are gendered from extremely early ages–possibly before birth. That has profound effects on the ways that brains develop. Plus, when you look cross-culturally, the “innate” differences Euroamericans claim exist between men and women are often not present elsewhere. In other societies, the average differences between genders are often based in something different than they are in our society.

            But I don’t expect that you actually care about any of this. You’re really just here to troll and stir shit up, as you have been over the last few threads.

  9. @marilove, no, don’t get all excited, I do know what Pascal’s Wager is of course. What I don’t understand is Melanie’s suggestion that my comment was a ‘Pascal’s Wager for Social Justice’. I wasn’t saying we ought to bet on one side because then we’d win either way; I was saying that betting either way is foolish as far as social policy goes It seems to me that she – and now you – don’t actually understand the original.

    And talking of Google you might like to Google the remark f mine you simply replied ‘yawn’ to and find out who actually said it. Then take it up with Rebecca, as i say, so she can take it up with Steve. I’d like to hear that no the SGU: Rebecca correcting Steve on his science.

    • Yeah, sure, sure you did. Uh-huh. I totes believe you.

      You’re adoooorable.

    • Also, no, I won’t google. I do not care about your personal, paranoid beefs with someone (Steve) who isn’t even here to defend himself. Nor Rebecca, for that matter. Irrelevant. Talk to them yourself.

  10. did metaburbia seriously come onto a feminist blog and argue that women are innately less suited to engineering? :/

    anyway, this post has some good stuff about safety and access to spaces relative to one group from another. how two people can be in the same space and have totally different experiences, like women relative men in night spaces, racial/ethnic/cultural minorities in “polite (white) society,” etc. when someone has a different experience than you it’s hard to understand the pervasiveness of it, the way it doesn’t let you go… you almost -have- to forget it when it doesn’t impact you, even though that’s never an option for the people it does impact. men can go a long way towards creating accessible spaces just by acknowledging that women are not going to have the same experiences as them, that the safe/rewarding/etc places aren’t that way for everybody. then if they remind themselves of that from time to time a lot of the stuff that needs to be done can start to follow.

    • did metaburbia seriously come onto a feminist blog and argue that women are innately less suited to engineering?

      No, I came to a supposedly skeptic blog and asked if the question shouldn’t be considered. I like your implication, though, that feminists might ignore facts, a charge commonly leveled against them by their opponents rather than their supporters. There are significant differences between the sexes, there is evidence for this, and some feminists nevertheless insist this isn’t true. So said Steve Novella, Rebecca’s podcast partner.

      I’m just wondering what criteria we can use for deciding an admission programme or educational system is biased, or to what degree it’s biased, when it might not be sensible to argue that only gender parity demonstrates lack</em of bias.

      • So you admit you’re here JAQing off. Great. Thanks for the official acknowledgement that you’re a troll.

        • So…anything of substance to add, Will?

          • Just a heads up that I’ve stolen Metaburbia’s free speech rights forever because I hate men or whatever. (He’s banned)

          • Just search for our usernames in the Slympit the next time someone suspects an MRA troll. He’s been chatting about us since the very beginning. I should have said something, but it was kind of fun. Anyway, he thinks he’s clever but you guys WE CAN READ WHAT YOU SAY IN A PUBLIC FORUM.

          • Yeah, but that requires actually going to the Slymepit. He was clearly a troll from his first comments here, when he cited a Reddit comment thread as an argument. Not even an argument at the top followed by comments. Just the comment thread.

            And his comments have been so bad, he seemed like a poe, planted here to gain more support for the counter-arguments everyone else has been making. But he was getting boring. using the same transparent tactics and laughable logic. I’m glad he’s riding derails on out of here. Choo choo!

          • Every now and again I search real quick to look for names with the search results just to check for trollage. I don’t actually read anything, I ain’t got time for that trash. I hardly have time for skepchick!

            Really, though, yeah … those were some bad comments.

        • Not that he believes in what he says, nor did he offer helpful or insightful studies or reading material, nor relevant personal antidotes. Metaburbia will not be missed. Metaburbia best of luck with your book club and your homegrown culture.

          • He obviously didn’t read that first paper I linked.because it showed with a lot of data that gender constructs are overwhelmingly NOT innate and characteristic of one gender but rather exist on a continuum with almost complete overlap between genders .

            But it was a really tedious psychology paper so I thought it would be right up his alley..A pity, really – he might have learned something.

          • I will read you paper. ;) I like reading that sort of stuff. My problem generally is that by the time I have read something digested it and come to a thoughtful place with it, too much time as gone past to really comment here and clarify the points. UGG! I love reading other’s thoughtful critiques and antidotes. (I do think antidote review is important as they shape how we perceive things and how these subjects fit into real life.) Metaburia just didn’t add to the conversation. With all that text you would think there would be something in there, but alas a troll he was.

          • It does take a lot of work. I used to complain in the old days that the threads died too quickly (remembering that I’m 12 hours out of phase with y”all). It was rare to get in more than one round of comment and reply. Things changed around Jul 2011 for some reason. Boy was that a learning curve!
            But I think the threads endure long enough now to do a bit of serious research and the commentary has improved as a result. Plus we all have got to know each other a bit better so maybe fewer misunderstandings occur. So in short, it is worth it!

          • @Jack99: I agree, I think the cometary in the comments has improved along with the time to respond or clarify points. Instead of hours you can have a few days. Not to say that the posts aren’t great, but I have been directed in some great directions from the comments. I like the commenters. I do miss some that have not commented in a while.

          • Man, you wouldn’t even have to read the whole paper to see that it came down completely against metaburbia’s argument. Hell, as I quoted upthread, just the second half of the sentence HE QUOTED THE BEGINNING OF would do it.

          • Once again MarlowePI, thanks for reading the paper and for your support there. I think that helped expose meta for the empty fraud he was. Also, anybody who gets stuck into greenstone, one of the most measured and reasonable commenters there is, has got to be an absolute asshole.

  11. @Will:

    >There is no evidence of the “innateness” of gender differences

    I said sex, not gender. So you’d disagree with Novella then? And Pinker? Not to argue from authority but they are convenient shorthands for a wealth of research. And at the risk of arguing from authority again, I wonder if the Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Cambridge realises he’s been thoroughly debunked by…er…you. Perhaps you should let him know.

    • What do you mean you said sex, not gender? This is the first time I’ve even seen a comment by you, so how could I have been misreading what you said?

      I was responding to metaburbia’s bullshit. And if he was being so clear about the sex/gender division, he would not have used the word “women” (referring to gender), but instead he would have said “female” (referring to sex).

      I haven’t listened to SGU in a long time, so I have no idea what Novella said. As such, I cannot agree or disagree with him. And I disagree with much of what Pinker says, but if you’re referring to what was linked further up thread, then yes absolutely. See the links Punchdrunk provided.

      And at the risk of arguing from authority again, I wonder if the Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Cambridge realises he’s been thoroughly debunked by…er…you.

      Learn to read, jackass. I provided three sources that challenge Simon Baron Cohen’s findings. I did not say that I personally debunked anything. And yes, he is aware of the criticisms–there’s much back-and-forth in the literature. Which makes me wonder if you’ve read any of the critiques of his work or simply read his work and accept it since it fits into a certain narrative you want to believe is true.

      • Ah, I just realized you’re metaburbia. Shame shame!

        • A bit slow tonight, eh, Will? ;)

          • Hehe. I guess sometimes I give people too much benefit of the doubt. And they wonder why we’re so untrusting of newcomers!

  12. But, but, but . . . I was still waiting for his insightful analysis of the comments on Troll 2.

  13. If I thought he was interested in genuine debate, I’d be sorry to see metaburbia go. I am curious as to why he’d go on a “supposedly skeptic blog” and ask people to reject a null hypotheses (innate cognitive gender differences are responsible for the low number of female engineers) without evidence as a token of good faith and fair mindedness. Sure, there may be differences (see, look how reasonable I am), but even work that shows gender difference doesn’t show anything large enough to explain what’s seen in the real world. That’s the real issue; what accounts for the drastic underrepresentation of women in engineering, particularly at some institutions more than others? That’s the question Lawrence Summers was avoiding. Even if it was true, simply stating that women aren’t as good at math wouldn’t explain why Harvard has less women than other, comparable institutions. But, by claiming any objection to what he said constitutes rejecting any possibility that these differences exist, Dr Summers gets to argue with straw-feminists, which the “liberal media” is more than willing to let him do. Hey,it beats admitting you’re bad at your job.

    • Yes, there is a 10 to 1 gender ratio in English engineering. Iit couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the snotty and dismissive old boys club could it? I’d like to put a torpedo into that boat (to borrow Will’s metaphor).

      • Like maybe revoke their tenure (I mean for academics like the ” Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Cambridge”) and put them all on 5 year contracts with renewals subject to a favorable report from the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity. All breaches of mandatory gender ratios to be justified in public to a full sitting of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal. That might fix their little red wagon.

  14. To the people who say “Where are all the women in STEM programs”, I always say “With all the black NASCAR drivers.” Their lack of presence has absolutely nothing to do with ability, but with the culture of the community.

  15. The only way to sort or this out is with an experiment (lets call it the Summer’s Experiment).
    Take a new born female infant, lay them down in the middle of the Amazon Jungle (or some like place), far removed from any societal influences or other living beings from which they may receive culture, then come back in 25 years time and see if they went to Engineering School.
    Then we will truly know what is ‘natural’.

  16. My university actively recruits women in engineering. I know, because the only reason I graduated mechanical engineering is because a “Women in Engineering” day was held and high school maths teachers were informed. My teacher sent me and two other students (the other two went on to computer science and business).

    • I so which I’d had this! I think I would have really liked going into electrical or mechanical engineering and meeting some role models early on might have helped me endure the harassment.

  17. I’m a student in the College of Engineering at the U of A, and to their credit, they do at least seem to be trying: http://engr.arizona.edu/future/index.php?ID=170

    I’d like to help them out, though I admit I’m not quite sure how to do so.

    • That sounds like a fantastic program! I wish I had had access to something like that when I was 15. Honestly, the only point of reference I have for Arizona is the one civil engineering graduation I attended. It’s possible it was an outlier. Maybe the years prior had tons of women. Maybe the other engineering programs at UofA have a ton of women. All I know is that the graduation I attended had 0 out of 50. I don’t know if the lack of women was due to problems recruiting or drop outs. It’s something that the University and College need to look into themselves. I didn’t write this post merely to chastise the University.

      It’s nice that they have some awesome programs aimed at encouraging girls to go into engineering. It shows they’re on the right track. But, clearly if they still have such low numbers they should be investigating the cause and creating new initiatives to fix it. I love the University of Arizona and I want it to be the best in everything they do and they won’t be able to be the best when they’re leaving out half the population. I wrote this post out of love for the University.

      Oh, and one last thing: Go Wildcats!

  18. Join their SWE section, help the local professional members with outreach. Even when I was a student member over thirty years ago, there were male members:
    http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/index.php/k-12-outreach

    Find the engineering outreach group that gives presentations at high schools (I did this with out Engr. Dept. over thirty years ago). There is also WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), and other groups. Don’t forget Mathcounts, the robot competitions, etc. It varies between cities due to who is most active.

    I also helped at the semi-annual engineering open houses as a student. I had been introduced to engineering in high school as a member of JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society, which was doing more than the Science Club). We had a field trip to their state “convention” which took place during Texas A&M’s engineering open house (only a couple of years after they started to let women attend).

    As a parent in another state I have taken my kids and their friends to the local university’s engineering open house. They are a blast! From being able to sit on a earthquake simulation shake table in the civil engr. dept. to the laser tag at elec. engr. on up to making liquid nitrogen ice cream at the chemical engr. dept.. it is all fun. My daughter’s tenth birthday coincided with that year’s engineering open house, so her party was me taking her and several of her friends to it. They are now college freshmen, and at least four are majoring in engineering. (though not her, le sigh… well I tried).

    • Awesome! I so wish I’d gotten to attend a program like that when I was young.

  19. The “leaky pipeline” may also be a significant factor resulting in the under representation of women in STEM at the undergraduate level. Even in Medicine wherein 50% of medical students are women, only 20% of full professors are women. Why? The discrimination occurs at pregnancy and with childcare. In a publish or perish environment, the loss of productivity (ie. grant applications, publications, etc.) is unfairly levied against women during pregnancy and beyond. As a result, they don’t achieve tenure. Also the result is that fewer women in medical school will consider a clinician-scientist track.

    • That is true. It is even worse when a child has a disability. I had to quit work when there were medical issues that turned into developmental issues with my kid. I knew at least a few other mothers with disabled kids who had to quit being doctors, lawyers, etc. when more time was needed for their children.

      Though I have met a few men who have quit their jobs, but they are a much smaller number. It usually comes down to who gets the most salary and/or health insurance package.

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