Boys, Girls, and Gender-Free Statistics

I am no math disciple (and I love women’s empowerment pretty fervently), but I do believe in using math and science as tools of fact, not tools of politic.  The media has been swarming over the recent article in Science that reexamines gender differences in math abilities of young boys and girls, but all the articles (that I’ve seen) save one (the Wall Street Journal – article here) has come to the wrong conclusion.  The faulty reports have only understood and reported on the means (averages), which are undoubtedly important, but fail to (honestly) report the variances, which are a lot of the show.

Here and here are two explanations – the first from a statistician at Columbia and the second from an economist at GMU.


“…My record has been clear.”

Kate Sheppard has written a piece on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and his misogynistic tendencies, both personal and political, here.  Here are some highlights:

  • The quote where McCain calls his wife both a cunt and a trollup.
  • When McCain voted to mandate that SCHIP (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program) cover fetuses, but voted against expanding coverage to low-income women and children at least 6 times.
  • McCain is asked what his family would do if his daughter became pregnant and he offers “It’s a private family matter” as an answer, not seeming to know that this is, of course, the very definition of pro-choice.

(HT Matthew Yglesias at the Atlantic).

That’s so unexpected!

Newsweek has a short piece on how media portray teenage pregnancy – namely, they don’t discuss how the teens got pregnant (contraception?  and since you didn’t use any, STD testing?) or what happens afterwards (you mean it’s not a holiday?  copious amounts of time and money are involved?). Not groundbreaking in any sense, but at least it’s being (briefly) commented upon.

Equality in Economic Turndowns

NYTimes reports that the higher percentage of women returning to the homes isn’t reflective of a homemaker’s revolution, as previously thought and reported on, but is instead reflective of a weak economy.

For the first time since the women’s movement came to life, an economic recovery has come and gone, and the percentage of women at work has fallen, not risen, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Each of the seven previous recoveries since 1960 ended with a greater percentage of women at work than when it began.

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

As an aside, the Times quotes Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) as the “vice chairman” of the Joint Economic Committee. I don’t know a lot about copy-editing, but it does seem strange that such a paper would not work harder to make their language gender-neutral, especially in an article about women.

Stand by Your Man; or, Country Music for Feminists

Just finished up a class in country music (thanks, visual/performing arts requirement!) and wanted to share a great song with everyone (Johnny Cash and Hank Williams are also recommended, but for different reasons).

Loretta Lynn, a prolific recording artist, gained fame with her song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” which detailed her impoverished childhood (adds authenticity, which country fans love).  She was married at 12 and had 4 children by the time she was 18.

She also recorded a song entitled “The Pill” (yes, that one).

A sampling of the lyrics:

“…All these years I’ve stayed at home
While you had all your fun
And every year that’s gone by
Another baby’s come
There’s a gonna be some changes made
Right here on nursery hill
You’ve set this chicken your last time
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill.”

iTunes has the song for 99 cents, and it’s worth every penny.