I started reading Cordelia Fine's book, Delusions of Gender, last week. It is currently being rubbished but I am finding it interesting and funny.
Here are some facts I know:
1. The 11-plus used to be passed by more girls than boys. Girls' marks were therefore downgraded to give an even gender balance in grammar schools. This type of thing is still happening: note Gareth Malone's experiment with teaching boys outdoors in a primary school. I dread to think what will happen if teaching of boys and girls becomes more separated, or rather, I can tell what will happen: the boys' way will become the superior way!
2. My sister wanted to be an air traffic controller when she left school in the 1970s. She was very logical and good at maths. You are only allowed two attempts at applying.
On her first attempt, she was rejected, because the interviewers felt that they would train her up, and then she might leave to have a baby.
On her second attempt, she was rejected, because the interviewers felt that they would train her up, and then she might leave to have a baby.
3. My mother got a place at Oxford. She was made to give this up, because after the war the returning soldiers were entitled to places at University and people like McMum had to get out of the way so they could take up their entitlement.
On the other hand, I know very many empathetic men, in particular those whom I know best, my two brothers. They have not been brought up in a feminist household, yet both cook for their spouses (they taught themselves), and the elder brother paced round all day when I was giving birth to my first child, as he was so worried.
My partner is one of the most empathetic men I have ever met, and so is my sister's partner.
I also know many ambitious and focused women who put their friendships second to their careers!
But of course, I am not a scientist, and the things I have mentioned above are not part of a scientific study, they are purely personal observations.
This is one of the criticisms that is currently being levied against Cordelia Fine's book. The scientific community say that although she uses accepted academic studies, her research has not appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
From what I know about peer reviewed journals, their panels act as gatekeepers to what enters the public domain and what does not.
And the personnel on most of these panels?
Men, of course!