Re: Genius -- the evidence

The Low Willow (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 17:41:55 -0800 (PST)

On Jan 23, 5:36pm, "Kathryn Aegis" wrote:
} From: Lyle Burkhead <>
} > They say women are discouraged from studying mathematics.

} Lyle, this is not a "they say" situation, this is (or was) a fact.
} School counselors ACTIVELY steered female students away from mathematics
} and sciences until about five years ago. It was not considered a

They've stopped everywhere? Still won't help parental and osmotic

I think one problem, Lyle, might be that you're considering two
different classes of difficulty. Once Abel had decided to do math, he
could focus his life and try to do math despite sundry material
obstacles. That's one kind of discouragement -- no one wants to pay you
for what you do best. (Cue Sasha.) But what women have often faced is
being told that they can't do anything intellectual, that it's
unladylike, etc. Being conditioned at an early age so that you never
desire an interest to do math or the confidence to feel that it will be
worth trying is a completely different kind of discouragement from
simply startving. "Free will": you can do what you want, not want what
you want. Perhaps not enough women have wanted to do math enough to
have geniuses. Is that genetic, or because not enough women have been
allowed to want to be mathematicians?

[Above and beyond not being taught to read, not being allowed to walk
out to the library, actually there probably isn't a public library until
recently... I don't know how fair it is to claim that women's obstacles
were overcomable if they'd wanted to before the past two centuries.]

Another anecdotal data point: Caltech is a very small, very elite
school. 3:1 male-female ratio among the undergraduates. A friend told
me recently that at a student house women's meeting most of the people
there had admitted having feelings of inferiority to males. Many female
students do quite well here, so I doubt it is because they obviously do
worse en masse. Even if they did, would that justify the feeling of
inferiority or be a result of it? Chicken and egg.

What's worse is that there is cultural differentiation among the houses,
and this was one of the more laid-back, liberated, mixed doubles,
houses. Not a house of Christians and very quiet Asian girls. [Oh.
Average House population is ~100.]

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Language and its absurd conjunctions;
Constellations and crustaceans rhyme.