I was pretty surprised (I'll stop short of saying enthused) to see an article about gender appear in the NY Times Science section. Usually such articles are relegated to the Fashion & Style section. Because, if it's about the ladies or the gender issues, the NY Times just knows it belongs in the same section as coverage about purses, lipstick, and high heels. Duh!
I wasn't really wowed, though, by John Tierny's "As External Barriers Disappear, Some Gender Gaps Widen." Reporting on recently published research, Tierny summarizes the findings of Dr. David P. Schmidt:
“In some ways modern progressive cultures are returning us psychologically to our hunter-gatherer roots,” he [Dr. Schmidt] argues. “That means high sociopolitical gender equality over all, but with men and women expressing predisposed interests in different domains. Removing the stresses of traditional agricultural societies could allow men’s, and to a lesser extent women’s, more ‘natural’ personality traits to emerge.”In other words...Men are from Mars! Women are from Venus! Let's create some scientific research to back up the planetary alignments - or to at least extend the passe debate! Mars! Venus!
I'm not impressed by Schmidt's "proof" against the social construction of gender. And I'm not impressed by Tierny's lack of interrogation of this study. I actually am not sure if I can see how this story is newsworthy given how overly done the "natural" sex traits/behaviors debate is. I think it must have been a pretty slow week in terms of science news...You?
Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.