By: Esomchukwu Obinna
The idea that women might have taken a different, or a more subtle approach, in the history of science is an ambiguous fallacy. Proponents of this fallacy often argue that women possess the natural traits of being nurturing and caring. Hence, women have a more sensitive and less brutal approach to everything, including science and research.
I fundamentally believe that, although women and men may differ in their anatomy and physiology, e.g. in bone mass, muscle mass, heart rate, lung capacity, lactation etc., we (i.e. men and women) are essentially the same in every other regard. John Locke, an English philosopher in the seventeenth century, postulated that at birth the mind is a blank slate or ‘tabula rasa’. This implies that at birth males and females babies have no predispositions based on their sex.
Albeit, while our minds are a blank state at birth, our society is not. After birth we are quickly ushered into a world infested by biases, prejudices and the omniscience stereotypes. As much as we would love to dispute it, a fair amount of the decisions we make on a daily basis are based on these biases, prejudices and stereotypes.
An example of how society seeks to indoctrinate babies into their gender roles is through speech (baby talk): Studies have shown that adults will speak differently to a baby if they are aware of the baby’s sex. This is another obvious example; early in life male kids get balls, Lego toys and trucks as Christmas presents, while female kids, get Barbie dolls. Female kids are also encouraged to fit into the societal definition of a female (this is largely propagated through the media).
Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection proposes that individuals with the most favorable trait will thrive and survive in an environment. This theory suggests that women who express more care and nurture will be abundant through natural selection. This theory might be responsible for the common misconception that every woman has a mommy gene (care and nurture gene) causing women to always show compassion even when they should be objective.
A recent study published by the faculty of Science at Yale University in the summer of 2012, showed that male scientists were more likely to be employed at six major research institutions, compared to their female counterparts with the same qualifications. Therefore this result implies that male scientists are more competent than their female counterparts.
In conclusion, we all have biases, some of which we are completely unaware. For science to be objective, we have to do away with these inherent biases by first acknowledging they exist.
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