The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

May 24, 2008

Gender war has winner in schools


A psychology professor named J. Philippe Rushton did a study in 2006 in which he came to the conclusion that men, by virtue of having larger brains, are smarter than women.

It's important to note that in none of the biographical material I've researched about Professor Rushton is there any reference to him being married.

That makes perfect sense, because if the guy had a wife, he'd never spout such nonsense ... even if he believed it.

As someone whose mother, wife and three daughters are all far smarter than I am, I can only look at Mr. Rushton with something akin to awe.

Not that I'm intimidated by the women in my family. No, certainly not.

What in the world were you thinking, J. Philippe, old boy? Are you out of your research-pickin' mind, or just the bravest man in the world?

What got me thinking about the whole "are women smarter" question was The Daily Star's recent "Scholar Recognition Program" publication.

The program, in cooperation with the Otsego County Chamber, recognizes outstanding scholastic achievement, leadership and community service by area high school seniors. Every high school in the Otsego, Delaware and Chenango county area was invited to select a senior who best exemplifies those attributes.

So, we're dealing with the crème de la crème, the smartest of the smart, the best of the best students to come out of our area's high school senior classes.

And y'know what? Eight of them are boys ... and 33 are girls.

Zounds!

I'll have you know I'm not a man to say "zounds!" lightly. We men tend to be proud and competitive, and this was a grave blow to our side. I mean, 33 to 8!

Could it be that women _ finally given something akin to a level playing field _ are proving that they are the superior gender?

Shaken after counting the scholars, I wandered over to a pod of four desks in our newsroom and asked the denizens whether they think women are inherently smarter than men.

"Yes!" immediately came the answer. The fact that all four are female might have had something to do with how little time it took them to formulate their response.

Men, perhaps, would have ruminated over the question, rubbed their chins, weighed the pros and cons and then given varying opinions. But I'm thinking women are so sharp, so much smarter, that they needed hardly any time at all.

I'm starting to get seriously intimidated now. Women control most of the wealth in the United States. They outlive men worldwide by an average of about 10 years, and I've noticed they seem to be getting pretty grabby with the remote control, too.

In 2004, women received 58 percent of all bachelor's degrees in the United States. In 1960, the figure was 35 percent.

The Democrats came within an eyelash of nominating a woman for president this year, and it's only a matter of time until the whole world is going to look like one of those cheesy 1950s movies where men are enslaved by a race of Amazon women.

Except the women in charge will be dressed in business suits instead of bathing suits, and carry fancy cell phones instead of spears.

It's a pretty good bet that most of those 33 young women scholars are going to be among the ruling class someday. Based on the achievements mentioned in our publication, society could do a lot worse.

Society has, in fact, already done a lot worse when boys had most of the advantages. Now, it seems fortunate that girls are doing so well, because boys just aren't getting the job done.

A psychology professor named Judith Kleinfeld at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks found that nearly one-quarter of American high school senior boys who had white, college-educated parents ranked "below basic" on a national standardized test.

"These boys cannot read a newspaper and get the main point," Kleinfeld told LiveScience. "These boys cannot read directions for how to use equipment and follow them."

As for me, I'm still stunned by that 33-8 disparity among our local recognized scholars. I'm thinking that Professor Rushton has more guts than brains when he says men are smarter.

I'm thinking that misogyny and men's physical strength have robbed the world of any number of important discoveries by brilliant women through the ages if only they had been given the opportunities they're starting to get now.

And that, along with my gender falling so far behind, is what really smarts.

___

Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.