Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby collegestudent22 » Sat May 07, 2011 10:55 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Have you actually listened to any female students on the subject? Statements like that are half the reason why it's frustrating to be a woman in a male field. You're either condescended to or hit on. Much like your behavior in this thread, only you managed to combine the dismissive bullshit with the salacious statement.


Oh, yeah. That's why girls don't like engineering. All those guys that are hitting on them. Call the cops! Men are hitting on women they find attractive and trying to get dates! Crime of the bloody century!

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Abgrund wrote:If you give someone privileges and special treatment merely because of the circumstances of their birth, they will expect it as a right. In fact, some will inevitably come to believe that they deserve even more. Because they are not completely relieved of all burdens, not completely absolved of all responsibility, they feel that they are victims of some mythical "feminazi" - as, after all, certain exploitive others wish them to believe.


Changing someones sentence like that and not noting it can cause quite a bit of confusion. For one thing, I was all set to argue this ridiculous statement, until I found that it was not what the original said. I will say that the quest for "equality" has gone too far, and along with the legitimate complaint by Abgrund, there is a reverse complaint (they forced the local bar to get rid of ladies night, for instance).

Men also score higher, on average, on the mathematics section of the SAT. But I'm sure its just social pressure again, pressuring girls to want to fail at life.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sat May 07, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Doesn't make much difference, both the altered version and Abgrunds original were crazy.

Have you actually listened to any female students on the subject?

Simply listening to random people yields about as valid data as listening to Abgrund.


some professions do get very little interest from one sex or another and there's going to be a lot of reasons for that.
From oddball social setups based on traditions with no point to slight actual biological differences which get amplified.

what's silly is simply blaming a whole gender when an area happens to be dominated by them.

Nursing has about the same ratio of females to males as eng does males to females yet people don't blame the female nurses.

Public health almost perfectly matched comp sci for ratio of males to females so much so that the class reps used to organize class nights out together to get a good ratio yet you hear nobody claiming that the women in the public health field are driving men out by asking them out.

Believe it or not you get condescended to no matter your gender or your profession, young engineers get some serious crap on site until they show they can keep a cool head and aren't easily shocked and young coders can find their workstation tied up in Gordian knots.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Angua » Sat May 07, 2011 11:40 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:Doesn't make much difference, both the altered version and Abgrunds original were crazy.

Have you actually listened to any female students on the subject?

Simply listening to random people yields about as valid data as listening to Abgrund.


some professions do get very little interest from one sex or another and there's going to be a lot of reasons for that.
From oddball social setups based on traditions with no point to slight actual biological differences which get amplified.

what's silly is simply blaming a whole gender when an area happens to be dominated by them.

Nursing has about the same ratio of females to males as eng does males to females yet people don't blame the female nurses.

Public health almost perfectly matched comp sci for ratio of males to females so much so that the class reps used to organize class nights out together to get a good ratio yet you hear nobody claiming that the women in the public health field are driving men out by asking them out.

Believe it or not you get condescended to no matter your gender or your profession, young engineers get some serious crap on site until they show they can keep a cool head and aren't easily shocked and young coders can find their workstation tied up in Gordian knots.
There is generally a culture of looking down on the male nurses though - 'You're a male nurse??' See Meet the Parents for an example of how this is seen as a socially acceptable outlook by many people.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sat May 07, 2011 12:04 pm UTC

sure but is it from the other nurses or from people, male and female, outside the profession?
My point is that people blame the men in engineering an CS when in rality they're very happy to have more females in their ranks.
The nurses I know lament the lack of men in their field too though the only heterosexual male nurse I know seemed pretty happy about his situation.

Med is closing on something like 80% females training to be doctors but that's a very high status, traditionally male dominated field where men aren't met with "you're training to be a doctor?" so why are so few men going into it?

Simply saying "It's all the fault of the men/women who are already making up 90% of that field" is the easy answer and appealing to some people but it doesn't seem consistent with what actually happens.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby lutzj » Sat May 07, 2011 12:20 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Have you actually listened to any female students on the subject? Statements like that are half the reason why it's frustrating to be a woman in a male field. You're either condescended to or hit on. Much like your behavior in this thread, only you managed to combine the dismissive bullshit with the salacious statement.


You'll also be condescended to or hit on in a field with even gender distribution, and in a female-dominated field you can only rely on being condescended to. This is not a unique problem.

If female engineer(ing student)s are constantly being hit on you have a) an incentive for certain women to enter that field (the same process gets boys into art and drama classes) and b) evidence that female engineers are considered attractive and therefore not sacrificing femininity (i.e., becoming "manly" or "the bitch") or social prospects by entering that field.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Sat May 07, 2011 1:56 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:Oh, yeah. That's why girls don't like engineering. All those guys that are hitting on them.
Do you think you would appreciate unwanted advances from half the people in your class, when what you're there to do is study? Would you like it if people wanted to work with you not because they thought you were smart or capable in your own right, but just because it would give them the opportunity to ask you out? Especially when, like many women, you *already* get that shit from complete strangers all the damn time? Guys might join art classes because they know it'll make them unique in the eyes of girls and they might get hit on, but guys also typically don't have to put up with the same stuff from people at the grocery store and on the street and in many of their other classes already. It's a welcome change for them, in other words, instead of simply being a more concentrated dose of the same bullshit.

HungryHobo wrote:in rality they're very happy to have more females in their ranks.
Their being happy doesn't mean they make it a comfortable place for her to be, though.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sat May 07, 2011 2:51 pm UTC

Seriously, do you think engineers and CS do nothing but hit on their female classmates?
I managed right through a course without hitting on any of my female classmates though a couple did hit on me.

Of course they also only work with women to get a chance to hit on them because they're incapable of actually concentrating on work the lecherous neckbeards they are.

and if that were the actual problem then you'd expect the dropout rate to be higher but the enrollment rate to be healthier as women come in, get fed up and leave.
Yet the dropout rate seems to be pretty much the same for men and women but the enrollment massively different.

I also take it you've never worked anywhere that gets a lot of hen parties since you have an unrealistic view of how much women hit on men.
They're also far more likely to pinch.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Sat May 07, 2011 3:07 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:Seriously, do you think engineers and CS do nothing but hit on their female classmates?
No, but I think it does happen, and more to each girl because there are fewer of them. Along with a bit of "Oh me yarm a girl!", which can have a noticeable effect on the atmosphere of a class even if it's not accompanied by anything overt.

and if that were the actual one and only single problem then you'd expect the dropout rate to be higher but the enrollment rate to be healthier as women come in, get fed up and leave.
Yes, I would expect that, if it were the only problem.

I also take it you've never worked anywhere that gets a lot of hen parties since you have an unrealistic view of how much women hit on men.
These hen parties spend a lot of time hitting on men in the grocery store? On the train? Just minding their own fucking business walking down the street? If women only got hit on by men when those men were having a party, it'd be one thing. If that were the case, you might even have a point!
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby KestrelLowing » Sat May 07, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

As a female in engineering this is what it FEELS like for me. I'm not saying it's necessarily the truth, but often in these types of situations what it feels like to an individual is more important than what reality is. Also, this is just my experience.

Most of the time, I don't get any different treatment - especially at college. I am not a particularly attractive or outgoing person so I do not get hit on very much (at least that I realize). Also, I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for the entirety of college, so that also helps with some of that.

The hitting on isn't a huge issue for me, although I've seen it be a major issue for people like my roommates. While normally it's just annoying with a normal ratio of men and women, when there's a huge discrepancy, the women who will be hit on are hit on a LOT more. And it's very frustrating.

The biggest issue for me is having to prove yourself all the time. While the majority of students and teachers are perfectly fine with female students, there are some who subconsciously do not believe that a female can do as well. This has been shown a few times in the past with identical resumes but having a male or female name up top. This is very frustrating for me. I know I'm at least in the top 25% of my class and yet it seems as if I have to prove every time I'm in a class that I'm not stupid and didn't just get this far because I'm a girl.

Once there is a critical mass of females, it gets much better. For example, biology and chemistry often have a higher proportion of females and that seems to be quite easily self-sustaining. When there are enough females that one below average female doesn't make people think that all females are below average, there isn't as much of a problem.

However, in the 'real world' it's much more of a problem. I'm currently co-oping at a large aerospace company (no, it's not Boeing!). The population of the company mainly consists of while males that are 55+ years old. The majority of people I'm working with are at least 60. The only female I know is the group secretary. There is even more pressure to prove yourself because it can truly be a sexist environment. Guys say horrible things about their wives because they're 'women' (yes, I know this happens with females too - that's not cool either!). The refer to cleaning as 'getting their skirt on'. It's not a nice place to work. The majority of people are not like that, but the culture allows a sexist environment to exist.

There are two co-ops in my department - me and a guy. We're both MechE students and go to schools of similar prestige. This is my second session co-oping. This is his first. He was put in charge of things almost immediately despite this being his first term. I had to earn that. And yes, it's quite possible that he simply was the better person for the job but in this case he really wasn't. I actually had done things similar and had taken the classes pertaining to such a thing. It's not that he was more professional - he checked texts in the middle of meetings and was often late! The only reason I can see why he was trusted first was simply because he was male.

It's not a nice environment and if I didn't know that engineering is the only thing that will make me have a fulfilling life in the long run, I would have changed majors after my first co-op session.

I know not all companies are like where I'm currently at (and will be getting away from soon!) but it is a reality.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sat May 07, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

Yes, I would expect that, if it were the only problem.

If it was significant then even if it was only one of many you'd expect it to drive up dropout rates vs enrollment. So no, your "correction" was in error.

On the train? Just minding their own fucking business walking down the street?

depends where they end up, good to know you think the workplace doesn't matter then since you so glibly dismiss it.
KestrelLowing wrote:...

Well put.
There we have some real issues, arsing around by the old guard and some actual workplace discrimination.
And you're correct it does happen to men in mostly female workplaces as well, it can be best to avoid working places where 90%+ of the workforce is mothers in their 40's and 50's if you're a guy in your 20's.

but this stuff still doesn't explain the massive massive initial difference in enrollment in college courses, particularly in stuff like medicine where the older senior staff are still mostly male.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby lutzj » Sat May 07, 2011 4:38 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:These hen parties spend a lot of time hitting on men in the grocery store? On the train? Just minding their own fucking business walking down the street? If women only got hit on by men when those men were having a party, it'd be one thing. If that were the case, you might even have a point!


You're talking by now about the fact that men are generally expected to initiate relationships. That's an interesting phenomenon with its own host of biological and social causes and effects, but you haven't demonstrated any connection between it and lower enrollment rates for women in STEM fields.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Sat May 07, 2011 7:52 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:you haven't demonstrated any connection between it and lower enrollment rates for women in STEM fields.
I merely intended to illustrate how a woman being hit on heavily in class might find that a more negative experience than a guy would. Whether that actually has a significant impact on the numerical disparity, I don't know. But it does mean it can't be dismissed quite as baselessly as people had been doing when podbaydoor pointed it out as a factor.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Abgrund » Sat May 07, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:You're talking by now about the fact that men are generally expected to initiate relationships.

That hasn't been the case since the days of patriarchy and arranged marriages. In any relationship arising from the volition of the partners - i.e., for the last couple hundred years or so - initiation has always been the female's prerogative. Until recently, this was only done suggestively, by flirting and dropping hints; the male had to make the first explicit move. But the woman had already decided before the man ever asked; his job was (and often still is) to read her signals correctly and respond.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby collegestudent22 » Sun May 08, 2011 5:31 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:Oh, yeah. That's why girls don't like engineering. All those guys that are hitting on them.
Do you think you would appreciate unwanted advances from half the people in your class, when what you're there to do is study?


Do you honestly think this doesn't happen in any other field? In fact, the only difference I can see is that if it is a "jock" in business hitting on a girl in class, it might be more wanted. But I don't understand why a girl that is obviously into science and engineering, and therefore likely into the hobbies that go along with it, would consider any polite and respectful advances unwanted.

Unless the individual making those advances has already been turned down and is being a pest. A behavior that I have never personally seen, especially from introverts (like myself) that likely had trouble getting up the courage to ask the first time. In fact, I find that all of the female engineering students I know have ended up dating someone making those "unwanted" advances, and in some cases have married them.

Abgrund wrote:
lutzj wrote:You're talking by now about the fact that men are generally expected to initiate relationships.

That hasn't been the case since the days of patriarchy and arranged marriages. In any relationship arising from the volition of the partners - i.e., for the last couple hundred years or so - initiation has always been the female's prerogative. Until recently, this was only done suggestively, by flirting and dropping hints; the male had to make the first explicit move. But the woman had already decided before the man ever asked; his job was (and often still is) to read her signals correctly and respond.


Suggestive behavior and a determination of what the response will be if asked is not initiation. Initiation is an explicit move that, given agreement by both parties, would start a relationship. If the man does not ask, the relationship is not started, regardless of the females decision. Thus, it is still a cultural thing that the man initiates the relationship, and the female can abort it at any point, including the initial beginnings (when asked).
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sun May 08, 2011 12:45 pm UTC

to be fair girls can start it too and guys can walk away when they want as well.
it's just that most girls I know seem to take the attitude that if a guy can't get up the courage to ask them out they're not interested.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Sun May 08, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

Right, which is to say that men are indeed expected to initiate relationships, by and large.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby PAstrychef » Sun May 08, 2011 3:50 pm UTC

I have spent most of my working life (now close to 35 years) in male-dominated, not traditionally seen as female jobs. I have worked in the printing industry running the big machines, I have been a carpenter, I have worked in professional kitchens since before the craze hit.
I wasn't hit on so much as used as a focal point for lewd comments. We would be doing something and suddenly one of the crew would be reminded that I was female, and then the talk would turn obnoxious. Mostly generalities about what women wanted, or liked, or how horrible they could be. I was expected to either ignore what they were saying as being in jest-no matter how offensive or inaccurate, or to join in denigrating my sex. Any attempt at defense or deflection was seen as being a PC bitch feminazi who couldn't take a joke.
I suspect that many girls see the STEM guys mostly in their geeky, semi-drunken, game playing little bands, roaming around making obscure in-jokes and failing at things like hair-combing and choosing matching socks. Imagining a future working with those guys would be depressing, even if most of society wasn't telling you that, being a girl, you are supposed to be arty and creative and intuitive and all that shit. (Never mind how much that distorts both the arts of engineering and science and ignores how much real work doing art is, if you're doing it right.) There have been discussions here on the fora about being the female in an office full of males, and how hard that can be. After a while, it gets tiring.
How the biological differences between the male and female gamete translate into behaviors is always going to be confounded by social pressures and ideas. Women looking at great ape groups came up with one narrative to describe what they saw, and men came up with another. Was either one accurate? Was either anything more than a construct of anthropomorphizing assumptions? It's like the experiments done at the start of the Enlightenment; Put a bunch of infants in a room and never speak to them to see if they speak the primordial language lost at the tower of Babel. Somehow, they just never work out the way you expect them to.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Sun May 08, 2011 3:56 pm UTC

I suspect that many girls see the STEM guys mostly in their geeky, semi-drunken, game playing little bands, roaming around making obscure in-jokes and failing at things like hair-combing and choosing matching socks.


And yet young guys see these people, see the socks, hear the nose snorts and think "oh ya, I wanna be one of them!"?
or see the distinct lack of women and think "oh ya going into that profession will mean meeting lots and lots of women"!

there's something more going on, one phrase that jumped out at me from Kestrels post: "engineering is the only thing that will make me have a fulfilling life in the long run".
I know the joy of creating things is what drew me into my field and Kestrel seems to have a similar passion.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Azrael » Sun May 08, 2011 7:33 pm UTC

Abgrund wrote:From my observation, the number of women with Engineering majors is quite large at the freshman level, maybe even close to parity, but decreases rapidly to about 10% as these girls are exposed to math courses.

Parity? No. Really only MIT and Cal Tech hit numbers even close (42 & 45 for 2014) for incoming freshmen. As for graduation rate, I'm not finding any data indicating a significant disparity in female graduation rates there either.

So I think your observation is ... wrong. Or at the very least severely affected by a rather obvious confirmation bias.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby fr00t » Mon May 09, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

Regarding todays comic: I think it's in everyones interest to end the message of "look, girls can do it too!", because it ultimately reinforces the idea that women are inherently inferior in certain areas. But what is a desirable long-term outcome for the whole realm of gender equality? Should there be equal representation in all fields? If wage parity were achieved but women still only represented (say) 10% of STEM fields, would there still be a male patriarchy in place? Or maybe just some specific amount of additional female representation, until it were convincing that females who wanted to enter certain fields weren't being discouraged and shut out?
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby collegestudent22 » Mon May 09, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:I suspect that many girls see the STEM guys mostly in their geeky, semi-drunken, game playing little bands, roaming around making obscure in-jokes and failing at things like hair-combing and choosing matching socks.


This is based on an argument that assumes that women aren't interested in the same things as men, here. Given how many women I know that play video games, understand the "obscure geeky in-jokes", and the lack of nerdy guys at most colleges to actually meet the stereotype of "uncombed hair and mismatched socks", I'd say this line of argument is partially based in ignorance - an ignorance that would disappear after taking one class in an engineering department.

How the biological differences between the male and female gamete translate into behaviors is always going to be confounded by social pressures and ideas.


True, but to claim there are no biological differences because you want men and women to be identical mentally is just nonsense.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 09, 2011 5:09 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:True, but to claim there are no biological differences because you want men and women to be identical mentally is just nonsense.
Yep. Which is why it's good no one here is saying that.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Роберт » Mon May 09, 2011 5:38 pm UTC

Abgrund wrote:From my observation, the number of women with Engineering majors is quite large at the freshman level, maybe even close to parity, but decreases rapidly to about 10% as these girls are exposed to math courses.

So, your observation indicates that math courses are specifically what it is that causes girls to drop out a higher rate?

Or was that statement just their to help us understand your biases?
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon May 09, 2011 5:48 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:I suspect that many girls see the STEM guys mostly in their geeky, semi-drunken, game playing little bands, roaming around making obscure in-jokes and failing at things like hair-combing and choosing matching socks.


This is based on an argument that assumes that women aren't interested in the same things as men, here. Given how many women I know that play video games, understand the "obscure geeky in-jokes", and the lack of nerdy guys at most colleges to actually meet the stereotype of "uncombed hair and mismatched socks", I'd say this line of argument is partially based in ignorance - an ignorance that would disappear after taking one class in an engineering department.


I have been in several engineering classes and you're right - partly. It's no where near as extreme as that and I believe my school was at one point ranked the 3rd geekiest in the US. However, I've seen two groups of people in mechanical engineering (probably one of the least "geeky" of the engineering disciplines):

1) The geeky person who likes engineering because they're around people like them, they get to be challenged, and their geekiness is no longer a huge issue. They've wanted to be an engineer or something similar for a very long time, they 'geek out' about some concepts and objects that others usually don't.

2) The person who wants to be well off, they want to be challenged, they were told throughout school they were good at math and science, engineering seemed like the next logical step, they find some of the aspects of engineering interesting.

And yes, there are many people who kind of fall in between but from my personal experience, it's typically a bi-modal distribution with more people in group 2. (CS may be the exception to this - I blame the 'CS culture' for that)

I would argue that the stereotype shows people in group 1 while the majority are actually in group 2. I don't think that women that are in group 1 are exceedingly underrepresented. Granted, some early social issues may steer them towards other things to geek out about and that may need to be addressed as well. But the majority of geeks are just geeks. These group 1 females are the ones who would become an engineer no matter what obstacles because they pretty much think it's the only thing they are interested in.

The real underrepresentation is with females in group 2. It's the people who definitely have the skills to be engineers, but don't have that "I have to be an engineer!" thing going on. Let's see, we'll call these "Potential Engineers" - people who have the skill set (math/science skills, intelligence) to become an engineer. Female potential engineers may not be as encouraged to become engineers as male potential engineers.

I know that in my high school, it was a huge deal that I was going for engineering because I was a girl. If the counselors and teachers have that preconceived notion and are suggesting careers for students who aren't certain what they want to do, they may be more likely to push males towards engineering and females towards other things like the medical field or teaching (not saying those are bad - but they're generally more 'acceptable' for females). Add that to the fact that math and science are traditionally seen as 'male subjects' and you may have a female who is just as good at math and science as a male but doesn't feel that way because no one says anything.

So it's not the geeky "HOLY CRAP ENGINEERING!!!" people you have to worry about. It's the "Hmm, engineering could be ok" women that you really have to recruit.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Aaeriele » Mon May 09, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

As someone else who went to a primarily engineering school (although my degree is in CS), I'd have to say that KestrelLowing hit the nail on the head with her description of people in the engineering program.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby PAstrychef » Mon May 09, 2011 11:40 pm UTC

Exactly-a young woman with science skills and interests may not consider engineering because she don't think of herself as that kind of a geek, and has no interest in becoming one. Chemistry, medicine, biology and such are seen as much more gender neutral overall.
Even if most college level engineering students have beome more socially ept, plenty of smart women don't see the potential in the field.
As a non-academic example, I was talking to my sister in law about who my brother should hire at his coffee company. When I said that the hours would work well for a woman with kids in school, her comment was "That's's not a job a woman would what to do, or do very well." it consists of packing coffee from large sacks into small ones, and delivering them to clients. That I was doing it was OK because I'm non-normative for a woman. And Beth is a high level Nurse Practitoner. Not the person I would have expected to say something like that.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Monika » Wed May 11, 2011 5:38 am UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:Men also score higher, on average, on the mathematics section of the SAT. But I'm sure its just social pressure again, pressuring girls to want to fail at life.

collegestudent22 wrote:Educational bias? Like what? My female Electronics professor is biased towards male engineers, now?

No, your elementary school math teacher called more often on boys than on girls to give the answer on a problem. Yes, she did. It's a proven fact. Female and male teachers are equally guilty. Teachers and - male and female - students present in the classroom denied it, but actual counts showed it clearly. After the teachers were convinced by the facts and tried to adjust it to equality, still reaching only a 40:60 ratio (calling up girls : calling up boys, weighted by the number of students of each gender in the classes), the boys started to complain that they were being disadvantaged by the teachers.
The same is true for physics classes, the opposite for biology.
The researchers called for gender-segregated classes in math, the sciences - and home economics, where boys are disadvantaged ... not only by the teachers, but by the girls in the class who may go as far as taking kitchen tools out of the hands of boys to take over the activity.
This was a study in Germany. I think I read about it approximately in 1997/1998, but I am not sure.

tl;dr: Looking at 11th grade SAT math scores and college is *way* too late. This is where you see the results, not the causes.

Abgrund wrote:From my observation, the number of women with Engineering majors is quite large at the freshman level, maybe even close to parity, but decreases rapidly to about 10% as these girls are exposed to math courses.

72% of statistics are made up on the spot and this is one of them. In other words: Liar. On all three counts. You will be pressed hard to find a university with gender parity in engineering freshmen in North America and Europe (I hear some unis in India, China and some other Asian countries are closer, but I have no actual stats to support this). You will have problems finding female dropout rates orders of magnitude higher than male dropout rates. Furthermore your chances are slim finding a connection with math ... even if it were the cause, how would you know, as test results for individual college subjects are not published in a personally identifiable way or split up by genders, and students changing majors or dropping out altogether are not systematically asked for their reasons?

I studied math & computer science. I tried to determine the enrollment and dropout rates for my uni for the four CS majors offered. I remember the enrollment rates:
Math & computer science freshmen: 30% women (total of about 40 students per year)
Business administration & Computer Science freshmen: 20% women (total of about 200 students per year)
Software engineering and internet technology freshmen: 11% women (total of about 40 students per year)
Technical computer science freshmen: 1 woman = about 2% (total of about 40 students per year)
(In Germany students choose the major at the beginning of college, not after 1 or 2 years as in (some, all?) US colleges.)

Dropout rates for CS are generally high. We were told in the beginning 66% give up within a year. Actually the rate I found was lower, but I don't remember what it was ... I wrote it down in some file on my other computer, I think. Have to dig this out some time.

I was expecting male dropout rates to be higher than female dropout rates, mostly because I met several guys who told me they had selected CS because they liked gaming and/or that they were surprised to find math on their schedules. (German freshmen and sophomores do not take general classes like German, math, history or whatever ... e.g. someone who studies Anglistic has no math, someone who studies CS has no German class.) I was wrong. Female dropout rates were higher. Not by a lot, not by a factor of 2, but enough to make the graduation rates noticeably lower.

But I can say that it was not due to the math. Math is mostly taught in the beginning. In the first two semesters about 2/3 of the lessons are on math and about 1/3 are on Computer Science. As mentioned, it's virtually impossible to get official grades or failure rates by gender, so I mostly have to rely on anecdotal evidence: Girls passed math and failed in CS. Boys passed CS and failed in math. The reasons are quite clear in my opinion: Girls and boys received about the same math education in high school (there are only two levels to choose from, roughly like choosing between Calculus A/B and B/C) ... boys might be worse because they have a one-year break for military or substitute service between high school and college. For CS, the difference is mostly whether you could program before college (neat little brochures trying to get girls to sign up for CS claim that you are taught how to program in college ... lies lies lies Lies LIES), and this applied mostly to the male freshmen and only to few female ones (e.g. me).

More anecdotal evidence: No girl who changed majors did so because she was hit on.
However, I am not amused about the up-thread comment "Guys hit on girls, LOL big deal" (to paraphrase). When my sister and female college mates were hit on in an inappropriate way, it *was* a big deal and they were very upset. But this happened on the street, never in uni. Might be a cultural thing.

I have some non-anecdotal evidence, too: My major, math & computer science, was special in the way that after the second year one had to choose whether to major in math or in CS. That's pretty unusual. Anyway ... girls mostly chose math, boys mostly chose CS. So, evidently, math is a girl thing :D .
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby greengiant » Wed May 11, 2011 7:33 am UTC

Monika wrote:boys might be worse because they have a one-year break for military or substitute service between high school and college


Wow, Germany has a year's national service for men (but not women), before university? My university really discouraged people from taking gap years before a maths course. I thought the general consensus was picking up maths again after a year's break was much harder.

I know that its slightly weird to cherry-pick that one thing from your post but it just jumped out at me as being so unbelievable. Suppose it's time to go find some information about it before I jump to any conclusions.

Edit: Not making any 'look how much worse men have it' claim btw, just thought this was remarkable. Think I must write bad posts because I always seem to be putting disclaimers on them.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby collegestudent22 » Wed May 11, 2011 8:00 am UTC

Monika wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:Men also score higher, on average, on the mathematics section of the SAT. But I'm sure its just social pressure again, pressuring girls to want to fail at life.

collegestudent22 wrote:Educational bias? Like what? My female Electronics professor is biased towards male engineers, now?

No, your elementary school math teacher called more often on boys than on girls to give the answer on a problem. Yes, she did. It's a proven fact.
[...]
This was a study in Germany.


That explains the discrepancy. This "proven fact" is unlikely in US public schools, where there is generally no differentiation between subjects in class until 6th grade. Additionally, not being asked to answer a question never really bothered me, and doesn't really explain a (seemingly total) lack of interest - many of my teachers didn't (and my professors don't) even ask, and just waited for a student to answer.

More anecdotal evidence: No girl who changed majors did so because she was hit on.
However, I am not amused about the up-thread comment "Guys hit on girls, LOL big deal" (to paraphrase). When my sister and female college mates were hit on in an inappropriate way, it *was* a big deal and they were very upset. But this happened on the street, never in uni. Might be a cultural thing.


Are you claiming that being hit on in an "inappropriate way" (what does that even mean, exactly? sexual assault?) is unique to technical degree male students - or even more common there? As I said, I would think that it would actually be somewhat less common, as those taking technical majors tend to be more shy. (They might be bad at it, but not necessarily "inappropriate".)
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed May 11, 2011 1:09 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:
That explains the discrepancy. This "proven fact" is unlikely in US public schools, where there is generally no differentiation between subjects in class until 6th grade. Additionally, not being asked to answer a question never really bothered me, and doesn't really explain a (seemingly total) lack of interest - many of my teachers didn't (and my professors don't) even ask, and just waited for a student to answer.


I wouldn't be so sure if I was you. German and US culture really aren't that different. I'm sure the same gender biases carry though. I posted this in the "Women in Academia" thread and I think it would be relevant here too. Nearly everyone has unconscious biases and it can be shown through the studies listed here.

While you said that you were never bothered by not answer questions, what if you were always overlooked because another group was assumed to always have the answer?

Also, anecdotally, I was never encouraged to speak up as a child. My brothers were. Somewhere in late middle school I recognized this and actively tried to go against my socialization. It's difficult. I still have problems just blurting out an answer because it seems rude and 'unwomanly'.

I also see this with my cousins. My female cousin is never encouraged to answer any of the questions asked of her - someone else usually does - while my younger male cousin is always encouraged to answer those questions himself.

So if a teacher just waits for someone to answer, who is going to? A person who knows the answer (or thinks they do) and who has been taught it's a good thing to speak up.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Chen » Wed May 11, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:Also, anecdotally, I was never encouraged to speak up as a child. My brothers were. Somewhere in late middle school I recognized this and actively tried to go against my socialization. It's difficult. I still have problems just blurting out an answer because it seems rude and 'unwomanly'.

I also see this with my cousins. My female cousin is never encouraged to answer any of the questions asked of her - someone else usually does - while my younger male cousin is always encouraged to answer those questions himself.

So if a teacher just waits for someone to answer, who is going to? A person who knows the answer (or thinks they do) and who has been taught it's a good thing to speak up.


I'm curious if this is something specific to the region you live in or if there are widespread incidences of this. Or any papers regarding it. Because I've not seen that here in Montreal, at least anecdotally. Throughout both elementary and high school you always had kids would would not answer even if they knew it. But I'd say it would be a pretty even mix between male and female. Now it could be a more family related issue but again I did not see that in my family (obviously another anecdote). Who exactly was doing the encouraging/not encouraging in the situations you mentioned?
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Wed May 11, 2011 4:50 pm UTC

Here is a similar gender bias study in America showing that teachers also favour boys over girls in their classrooms.

Cross cultural study showing the math gender divide is cultural-specific

Just saying's all.

Note: The studies I found are older (90s). I'm sure these studies have been replicated more recently, but can't find them in a few seconds on google.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Monika » Thu May 12, 2011 3:11 pm UTC

greengiant wrote:Wow, Germany has a year's national service for men (but not women), before university?

9 months ... or I think decreased to 6 in 2010. Recently it was suspended, they are currently not drafting, so from July there will be no more men doing it. But it's not stopped entirely, they could start it again at any time. (Chances are it won't happen, but who knows.)
A lot of countries have this, e.g. also Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Finland, ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_service . France stopped in 1996, but encourages male and female high school students to enlist (without much success, I hear). Poland stopped very recently, two years ago.
The only country that drafts women is Israel, I think. (2 years service for women, 3 years service for men; Jewish Orthodox and Arabic Israelis are exempted ... or discriminated against, how ever you want to see it.)

My university really discouraged people from taking gap years before a maths course. I thought the general consensus was picking up maths again after a year's break was much harder.

That was the general consesus among the guys I was studying with, for sure ^^ .

I know that its slightly weird to cherry-pick that one thing from your post but it just jumped out at me as being so unbelievable.

No worries.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

collegestudent22 wrote:
Monika wrote:This was a study in Germany.

That explains the discrepancy.

There is no discrepancy. It's hard, but stop deluding yourself.

This "proven fact" is unlikely in US public schools, where there is generally no differentiation between subjects in class until 6th grade.

There may be no formal class periods, but teachers still say "it's time for math now, children". Even if they don't it's no problem to measure whether the teacher interacts more with the boys or more with the girls during class time devoted to math concepts or to let's say language study, music or art. Your statement is completely irrelevant.

Additionally, not being asked to answer a question never really bothered me, and doesn't really explain a (seemingly total) lack of interest

Which total lack of interest? Kindergarten boys and girls show similar interest and skill with numbers, comparisons and shapes. 10-year old children will readily tell you that math is more of a boy subject than a girl subject. How did they get this impression?

More anecdotal evidence: No girl who changed majors did so because she was hit on.
However, I am not amused about the up-thread comment "Guys hit on girls, LOL big deal" (to paraphrase). When my sister and female college mates were hit on in an inappropriate way, it *was* a big deal and they were very upset. But this happened on the street, never in uni. Might be a cultural thing.

Are you claiming that being hit on in an "inappropriate way" (what does that even mean, exactly? sexual assault?)

If you think hitting on someone in an inappropriate way is only when it's sexual assault, I am not surprised if your female classmates think of you as a sexist asshole.
Let me give you some examples:
At a party: "Can I buy you a drink?" = okay
After a class: "Would you maybe go eat lunch with me some time?" = okay
On the street to a random stranger: "You are so pretty. Will you marry me?" = not okay
On the street to a random stranger: "Will you go drink something / eat something with me?" = not okay

is unique to technical degree male students - or even more common there?

You seem to have trouble reading. I wrote the exact opposite. I have bolded the important parts for you.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby HungryHobo » Thu May 12, 2011 6:24 pm UTC

On the street to a random stranger: "You are so pretty. Will you marry me?" = not okay
On the street to a random stranger: "Will you go drink something / eat something with me?" = not okay


that's actually pretty close to how I got a girlfriend when I was in my teens.

though it's best to start with "hi" if it's a random stranger you meet in public rather than just starting with "marry me" cause that would freak anyone out.
believe it or not, hard as this may be for you to believe interactions along the lines of

"hi"
"hi"
"I'm <name>"
"<name>"

*chatting for a little while*

"could I get your number"
"sure, it's <number>"
"nice meeting you, cya"


can actually be part of normal, enjoyable, healthy social interaction for strangers who meet in public places like on the street or many other places.

In fact normal healthy happy people often have such pleasent and non-threatening non-pressuring exchanges in many other places with people who may be classmates, coworkers or people they meet through social events.
It's not even limited to romantic interests, it also aids in making friends with people.

or were you just attacking a strawman of people who actually walk up to random strangers on the street and ask to marry them?

becaue if that was the only thing you were attacking then I totally agree, walking up to someone on the street and asking for their hand in marriage without even asking their name first is a huge social faux pas.
even asking someone if they want to go for lunch some time is generally better left until after some initial introductions and pleasentries rather than just blurting it out.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Aaeriele » Thu May 12, 2011 6:38 pm UTC

Marry, perhaps not. But I have had guys tell me they're in love with me out of the blue. It's kinda creepy.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby KestrelLowing » Thu May 12, 2011 6:51 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
On the street to a random stranger: "You are so pretty. Will you marry me?" = not okay
On the street to a random stranger: "Will you go drink something / eat something with me?" = not okay


that's actually pretty close to how I got a girlfriend when I was in my teens.

though it's best to start with "hi" if it's a random stranger you meet in public rather than just starting with "marry me" cause that would freak anyone out.
believe it or not, hard as this may be for you to believe interactions along the lines of

"hi"
"hi"
"I'm <name>"
"<name>"

*chatting for a little while*

"could I get your number"
"sure, it's <number>"
"nice meeting you, cya"


can actually be part of normal, enjoyable, healthy social interaction for strangers who meet in public places like on the street or many other places.

In fact normal healthy happy people often have such pleasent and non-threatening non-pressuring exchanges in many other places with people who may be classmates, coworkers or people they meet through social events.
It's not even limited to romantic interests, it also aids in making friends with people.

or were you just attacking a strawman of people who actually walk up to random strangers on the street and ask to marry them?

becaue if that was the only thing you were attacking then I totally agree, walking up to someone on the street and asking for their hand in marriage without even asking their name first is a huge social faux pas.
even asking someone if they want to go for lunch some time is generally better left until after some initial introductions and pleasentries rather than just blurting it out.


Yes, the major problem is when someone doesn't even attempt to get to know you at all before. For all the talk of a random 'prince charming', I know I'd be completely creaped out if someone I had hardly any contact with asked me out.

As to why this is relevant with females in male dominated professions, the fewer girls there are, the more likely they are to be hit on. While I also have never actually heard of anyone leaving a major because they were getting hit on, I do know several who are very, very annoyed by it (it's even worse at my school because the entire college ratio is 4:1). Contrary to popular belief, most women who want to get a college degree are not there for their 'MRS' degree. They actually want to get a real degree.

Like anything else, it's fine in small doses, but very annoying when it happens often.

Still, that's probably not the most important part as to why there appears to be a significant difference between men and women in the STEM fields. Most would probably agree that starts much earlier. The real problem is trying to solve that.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby DaBigCheez » Thu May 12, 2011 7:03 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:"hi"
"hi"
"I'm <name>"
"<name>"

*chatting for a little while*

"could I get your number"
"sure, it's <number>"
"nice meeting you, cya"

seems fine to me. I think what we're discussing as inappropriate is
"hi"
"hi"
"I'm <name>"
"<name>"
"could I get your number"
"...do I know you?"

The "intermediary chatting" bit, where you get to have some inkling what the person is like, is...somewhat relevant.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby gmalivuk » Thu May 12, 2011 8:02 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:*chatting for a little while*
Yeah, this part is rather important, and isn't what others were talking about (speaking of straw men...).

Though also, approaching someone completely out of the blue, when you're not already standing in the same line or next to each other on a plane or whatever, can absolutely feel creepy or threatening to the person being approached. The fact that you've met some people this way notwithstanding.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Aaeriele » Thu May 12, 2011 8:42 pm UTC

What's this? Some people are extroverts, but others are introverts? Shocking.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Outchanter » Thu May 12, 2011 9:10 pm UTC

So ultimately, the problem is not so much the hitting on as the way the hitting on is done?

Aaeriele wrote:Marry, perhaps not. But I have had guys tell me they're in love with me out of the blue. It's kinda creepy.

Social awkwardness isn't limited to males. I had a girl in my degree program tell me her friend said "he sounds like the perfect guy for you" after I put out an advert looking for a roommate, because it turns out we both play the cello and are allergic to cats. She went on to invite me to play cello with her in her "cat free apartment"...
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