Bharathi Jagadeesh bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov
Tue Jun 17 08:53:10 EST 1997

Trina Roberts (troberts at fas.harvard.edu) wrote:
: Remind people that it isn't always being treated differently in an
: _academic_ sense that matters (at least, not to me).  Maybe they can't
: think of a single man who would assume men are better scientists and
: problem solvers,

Wow! Is it really your experience that you can't think of a single
man who would assume men are better problems solvers. It's been
my experience that many people I have encountered believe that
to be the case. That doesn't mean that they would necessarily
think that men are _always_ better scientists, or that there
won't be some women who are "exceptions." But if asked about
some nebulous quantitity of "intelligence" or "analytic skills"
or "problem solving" ability, the number of women who would
be listed in their top twenty would be very low.

They then usually suggest that women who succeed are sucessful
because of their other skills (i.e. hard-working, organized,
memorizing skills). I think that this belief pervades our
society (frankly I think most _women_ think men have better
problem solving skills).

Do the excercise for yourself -- list the twenty smartest people that
you know personally. How many of them are women? My list has
< 30% women. This is not something I'm proud of -- just a
recognition that the societal forces that influence our
evaluations of people's abilities are _strong_.

Counteracting these societal forces are the role that I see
for affirmative action. I think this is the discrimination of
which Neo Martinez speaks, and it's undoubtedly present.

I'm opposed to the notion of evaluating
men and women seperately, because that assumes that
men and women will be equally qualified for a position.
Even if we believe that there are no intrinisic differences
in ability between men and women, that does not mean that at
the time that we're ranking say assistant professor candidates,
that there will not be differences in quality in the applicant
pool. If there are differences in the applicant pool
at that point, it means not only that people will say
that one group less well qualified -- they might really
be less qualified. And then the system will fall apart.


Bharathi Jagadeesh/bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov
Lab of Neuropsychology
NIMH/Building 49, Room 1b80
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
(312) 496-5625 x270

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