May 20, 2013
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Jan. 20, 2004
/ 10 Shevat, 5765
Could It Be That Men and Women Are ... Different?
"Math is hard!" Barbie once said, and apparently Lawrence Summers agrees. He's the president of Harvard, and finds himself in hot water for remarks made at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference.
He blamed the relatively low numbers of women in math and science on a lack of natural ability. Oops. If he'd been a TV preacher or Cabinet member, this would be fodder for contemptuous editorials, gleeful cartoons, Letterman lists and the usual oil slick of liberal scorn. But he's one of the good guys, so he won't be boiled in oil. Just dipped in tepid pitch.
What controversial ideas did he confess? Said the Associated Press: Summers "cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them `daddy truck' and `baby truck' as if they were dolls.
"It was during such comments that (one attendee) got up and left."
Good heavens. People still persist in this gender-neutral nonsense? They give a boy a Barbie, hoping it will awaken long-buried nurturing instincts. "After he's learned how to coordinate her outfits, we can introduce little Skyler to the Easy-Bake Oven, and cure some hemp." And so forth, until he graduates with a degree in education and peace studies and takes a teaching job ... that would otherwise have gone to a woman. Hmm. Well, fine; by then our daughter will be either a structural engineer or a jackhammer operator. It'll all work out.
Work out it will, but not the way the parents intend. The boy will bend Barbie in half and pretend she's a pistol, and run outside to play Cowpersons and Indigenous Americans. Give a girl a GI Joe, and 10 minutes later Joe's sitting stiffly at a small table with the Velveteen Rabbit and a Polly Pocket doll, having tea.
That said, Summers misspoke. Women do not lack "natural ability." It's more likely they lack natural interest. Not all. But many, perhaps most. It's quite possible -- bear with us, this is brave stuff -- that gender roles actually spring from innate differences between men and women. They've become ossified over the years, creating social constructs and artificial barriers.
It's ridiculous to assume that all women want to stay at home in a nice Donna Reed dress, vacuuming in pearls, carving cukes into cute shapes for a treat when the gals come over for canasta and cocktails. But it's equally preposterous to assume that all girls have the same interests as boys, and would join the Marines or take mind-grinding computer programming classes if only the big mean patriarchy didn't wag its finger and say "go do something pink."
Perhaps there's a reason most women get degrees in social sciences, teaching, law, journalism and similar fields: It's what they really want to do. It's not as if school administrators chuckle indulgently when females apply to hard science departments: "Oh, don't worry your pretty little head about the laws of thermodynamics, dear. Now run along like a nice docile breeding unit and get a degree in darning, or whatever it is you do to socks."
Once upon a time, yes. But anyone who argues that women are still encouraged to be weak little nurture-bots hasn't watched a movie in the last 10 years; if it's an action film, the tough no-nonsense chick is guaranteed to be the bravest fighter; if it's a technothriller, the brainy young woman is guaranteed to be the sharpest hacker. If any message is being sent, it's that women had better be buff testosterone-fired tech-savvy brainiacs, or they're somehow a traitor to the gender.
It will be nice when we stop worrying about the percentages, and ask ourselves if the actual percentages might not reflect something about human nature. The goal isn't 50-50 in everything, be it nursing or structural engineering. It's making sure we all have the tools and freedom to pursue our interests.
Full disclosure: Your author works from home, usually in the company of his 4-year-old daughter. He has spent much time teaching her how to use the computer for solving math problems, which she does with great pleasure. Wearing a tiara and a feather boa.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles.
Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
© 2005, James Lileks