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This ties in with stats showing girls tend to do better in all-girls schools at secondary level too, where boys do better in mixed schools...

i mean, that's one possible parallel, but i wonder if the effect is wholly attributable to the diminishment of female performance, or if there's some corollary effect whereby male achievement is enhanced. looking forward to reading the book anyway...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:09 (five years ago) Permalink

con, i'm not sure how you parsed that distinction any different from the line that you quoted

Mordy, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:10 (five years ago) Permalink

It was confirmed with regards to race, that members of racial groups who were reminded of stereotypes about their race - e.g. American stereotypes that Asians perform academically well, African Americans perform badly - showed test results that were more in line with the stereotypes than the test results of people who had not been so reminded.

yeah, that's the sort of thing i was wondering about. not a surprising result, really, but challenging on lots of levels.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:11 (five years ago) Permalink

con, i'm not sure how you parsed that distinction any different from the line that you quoted

― Mordy, Wednesday, February 22, 2012 8:10 AM (34 seconds ago) Bookmark

well, being unfamiliar w the studies and hearing abt these things only third (or fourth or fifth) hand, i wanted to make sure i knew i was on the right page

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:13 (five years ago) Permalink

"...make sure i knew i was on the right page"

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:13 (five years ago) Permalink

I would love to see how this works along a spectrum of self-confidence among students; those who I always felt conformed most to gender stereotypes were either severely lacking in confidence (troubled families, etc...) or those with almost delusional self-confidence (the jocks and popular girls) but I'm not sure that wasn't just my classes and I'm not sure how to find an effective control. I just know that there were lots of women in my math classes who were as bright and appreciated by the teachers as anybody.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:18 (five years ago) Permalink

Self-confidence is just one of those nebulous qualities that I'm not sure you could even measure? And also, self confidence in what? Self confidence in one's physical appearance or academic prowess might not be protective against stereotypes involving mathematical ability?

It would be interesting to try to find out what kinds of things *did* provide some kind of measure of protective influence - things like having a female maths teacher for example - and another example that was talked about in the book was the gender of the person handing out the papers and invigilating.

I'm guessing that things like, being repeatedly exposed to examples that went against the stereotype (for example my mathematician grandmother) would have an inoculative effect. The inoculation of being told or shown that the stereotypes didn't apply to you, because some other mitigating factor?

There probably are things that mitigate it, but I'm guessing that "confidence" is just too wide an idea.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:42 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I agree, yet, I certainly had a feel for it in class as a kid. Some ppl 'kowtowed' to avoid being totally ostracized and some ppl in their youthful ignorance thought that if they were this popular now, they alwasy would be and probably didn't have to try that hard - I presume that in many girls that meant an over-reliance on seduction to the exclusion of other social strategies. I was an outsider after 6th grade in several different ways so I didn't even bother and read my history books.

I had a lot of female science teachers but the only math teacher who ever made me try much was a kind of avuncular figure who I actually spent lunch hours chatting with, though by no means exclusively about math.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:51 (five years ago) Permalink

I think if I'd had a mathematician grandmother I wouldn't have been so cavalier about math.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:52 (five years ago) Permalink

I had one mathematician grandmother and one scientist grandmother, so I think I had a lot of early exposure to the idea that gender was what you make it, rather than what the stereotypes of it were. And this is why examples and role models are important.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:08 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm so ambivalent about that. My feminist stepmother exposed me to a lot of non 'boy's stuff' as a kid and I was kind of explicitly taught not to seek too much to indentify w/characters but with situations, principles and character. I still read mostly Eurocentric history but I ended up naming a cat Boudicca and have a long-standing attachment to Aliénor de Guyenne (Aquitaine).

Role models are very important but so is being able to discern between ppl who look like you who peddle you horseshit and ppl who don't necessarily look like you that are at least trying to find truth and beauty and meaning. Like many things, I imagine it's a spectrum and one needs a bit of both.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:17 (five years ago) Permalink

OK, I'll clarify that. This is why positive role models are so much *more* important to those people who are at risk of being negatively affected by Stereotype Threat.

For those for whom the Stereotype Threat works in their favour, they may not have need for anything to counteract stereotypes that actually help them.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:32 (five years ago) Permalink

Wait, are you sure about the latter? I was a white male which surely helped but I was raised by hippyish, working class ppl in relative isolation so when I moved to an affluent suburb at 12, I may not have been selected against based on race or gender but I was some weird, loner dork and I wasn't all that thrilled w/the dominant stereotypes about what was 'manly', 'gay' or 'normal for white ppl' that were all around me since I knew that to conform to them, even for privilege, would be to deny who I was and what I knew to be true.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:43 (five years ago) Permalink

^ yeah, similar experiences here. helps to keep in mind the kyriarchical complexities. still, no matter what, to be born white and male confers massive privilege, everything else being equal...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:53 (five years ago) Permalink

...but you *do* need to take into account race, class, status, disability, family life, migration, mental health etc etc before you can talk about any one person's privilige wrt any one other person.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:10 (five years ago) Permalink

...also, it's great that your gran was able to help you to appreciate people who weren't like you MW, and what WCC said doesn't preclude your experience imo.

Stereotype Threat is not about your conscious perceptions, it's about the unconscious impact of social norms. The fact that I am deeply unhappy about the idea of women being hardwired to be better at language than men doesn't mean that I haven't benefited from whatever confidence boosts this might have given me along the way, all unawares.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:21 (five years ago) Permalink

...but you *do* need to take into account race, class, status, disability, family life, migration, mental health etc etc before you can talk about any one person's privilige wrt any one other person.

yeah, because everything else isn't equal. hell, local culture and quirks of personality/appearance figure in, too. just saying that our awareness of the complexities shouldn't blind us to the simplicities. self-evident point, i suppose...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:24 (five years ago) Permalink


OK that went in a direction that doesn't make sense. Basically the point is that dominant stereotypes *might* have helped you in ways you don't know about.

And as for role models, there's been a lot more written about white men in the history books than p. much anyone else, so however much of an outsider you felt, you might not have had as far to look for an inspiring role model as some people do? Maybe?

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I guess I should feel grateful for my family: my dad's father was a math professor who had grown up in rural small town West Virginia and strongly believed in education as a means of mobility and self-fulfillment and thus was quite emphatic about the importance of educational advancement for both my dad and his sister, especially when it came to math. My mom only had sisters. And as an only child, who kinda had to function as both "daughter" and "son," my parents inflicted very minimal traditional gender expectations on me.

So, I don't know if I was even aware of that stereotype as a kid, but definitely as I grew older, I was aware of it, but had no sense of it applying to me.

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 19:35 (five years ago) Permalink

garg, went to the library to look for a copy of delusions of gender. turns out that there is NOT A SINGLE COPY in the entire tacoma library system, or in those of affiliated institutions/universities/etc. fume gnash rend. requested that they order a copy, so we'll see...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 23:56 (five years ago) Permalink

Simply reminding girls that they are girls is enough to drive down their math test scores. Even at the age of five, girls will score 15% lower on a math skills test when they perform a gender-reinforcing activity first.

This is so weird. I'm sure I can genuinely say I never felt this "stereotype" at all in school. Maths and science were always full of clever girls in my school and were always my strongest points - my female best mates and I started trying to program Spectrums when we were kids, it was always just fun although we were aware it was a bit nerdy. Even now all my engineer friends are women. It was only when getting to 'careers guidance' stage, around 14 or so I guess, that people started going on about how yes, girls could be scientists too, that I was aware it was a stereotype. (And my dad's a former engineer and my mum a social worker ... I take after my dad).

kinder, Thursday, 23 February 2012 03:46 (five years ago) Permalink

I guess the main thing that tells me is that generally I was in my own little world when I was a kid and didn't pick up on a lot of pop culture or societal stuff that most other people just absorbed.

kinder, Thursday, 23 February 2012 03:50 (five years ago) Permalink

This is really deeply part of the problem, that yeah, trying to get the ideas in books like Delusions of Gender into discourse is like pulling teeth - while I bet that if you tried to get a copy of, say, Women Are From Pluto, Men Are From Outer Space, you would find half a dozen copies in circulation. People are really deeply attached to these stereotypes.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:38 (five years ago) Permalink

holding on to stereotypes of your own gender/sexuality seems almost like a comfort blanket for some people. it probably smooths certain situations. that, more than anything else, might be the biggest barrier to breaking down those stereotypes.

i had good friends in school who were female and physics/maths-leaning - including the girl widely acknowledged to be top of the year in all those subjects - i don't recall her feeling that being a girl was a barrier in any way. (but then we had a good proportion of female maths/science teachers, including the head of maths who was one of the most brilliant teachers i encountered, and did a lot to coax me through my own maths fear) (and also i genuinely don't recall any sort of pink-princess-girly-girly culture when i was growing up?!). i mean, there are so many environmental factors to consider as well - type of school, location blah blah blah.

also the type of student you are? if you're a straight-As pupil, male or female, you're going to develop an innate assumption that you should be good at every subject even if you don't have a feel for it (like, i stayed in the maths top set throughout school without ever really understanding any of it). if you're a middling student you might feel that your lack of feel for a subject might be down to gender?

hmmm i also just remembered that while many of the maths/science-leaning boys in our school went on to jobs in engineering, that girl i mentioned never did go into academia like she wanted, and is a school teacher now, and i'm not sure she's entirely happy with the way things turned out :/

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:58 (five years ago) Permalink

btw i am enjoying zora's posts but haven't yet been able to take them in *and* formulate a worthwhile response

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:00 (five years ago) Permalink

There honestly wasn't as much pink-princess-girly-girly culture when I was growing up. I know I'm about 10 years older than you, Lex, but I was very much a product of a 70s childhood when my mother's generation were coming from their consciousness raising groups and NOW meetings and actively trying to dismantle gender stereotypes in their own lives, as well as the lives of their kids. I think, on the whole, this was a good thing.

But also, on another level, childhood just hadn't been commercialised in the same way it has now. That there was one set of toys, everyone wore each others' handmedowns and that was that. And now toy companies realise that they can make twice as much money by selling a blue version and a slightly shitter pink version of the same toy, and so this stuff gets actively promoted.

It was one of the things that I noted in those books, that round about the age that kids start to notice that they Has A Gender, they become interested (usually, not always) in figuring out what it is, what it means, and how to (for lack of a better word) perform it. You can nudge kids into accepting gender roles, you can nudge them into wider ideas about gender. Apparently, one of the influential factors in developing ideas about gender is actually whether one has a closely aged sibling of a different gender. (That girls with a brother and boys with a sister tended to be more relaxed about gender roles.)

But yes, individual circumstances certainly play a role - and we're talking about averages, not absolutes here. "An average of 15% drop" can mean that some girls won't drop at all, and some girls will drop by as much as 30%. These things aren't that useful on an individual level because individuals in populations vary, that's what they do.

That yes, I had a protective influence because I had parents that said "your one grandmother was a mathematician, your other was a scientist, one of your great aunts was a code breaker at Bletchley Park, it would be very surprising (and you would bring shame on our family) if you turned out not to be good at maths" and lo and behold, I, too, do if for a living. But that does not mean that the stereotypes don't exist and aren't powerful to people who did not have situational factors like that.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:12 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I for one always wanted Merzbow's Music for Bondage Performance type stuff unpacked; and never trusted Whitehouse (hated the little I heard of their music anyway)...thing is no one seemed to bother to question, it just had this polarising effect (and w/music like that y'know..)

see, I think EV's defense of Whitehouse is OTM. There's a sense of humor/irony behind their aesthetic that seems pretty blatant to me compared to some newer noise musicians who flirt with the same imagery & are a lot more serious about it.

― Big Mr. Guess U.S.A. Champion (crüt), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Can you give me an example of this, btw? At the time I just thought it was a blatant apolitical free for all. Granted, all a very fine line which could get misinterpreted by idiots down the line but if you give 'em rope..

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:06 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't want to derail anybody's discussions, but this seemed like the appropriate thread for this - a great post at Jezebel about gendered marketing of LEGO products, and what happens when you switch the audio on the commercials.

A Full Torgo Apparition (Phil D.), Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:47 (five years ago) Permalink

my own personal experience with gender/sci: both parents are highly educated with tons of graduate degrees, working in sci or health. my older sis ended up collecting master's degrees in the sciences. i was expected to excel in sci/math and i did, although i still had enormous anxiety about it. i tested better in sci/math than humanities when i did any sort of standardized testing. but my biggest class problems were always in sci and math. my honors chem teacher in HS used to say that i was really smart but i got in my own way.

i was never consciously aware of any discouragement or implication that i might not be great at sci/math--but it freaked me the fuck out. and i believe that it was partially due to gender bs that i absorbed, although i tried to reject it. (wearing men's clothes, etc)

JuliaA, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:18 (five years ago) Permalink

I had a young cousin once that posted on facebook that she did well on a math test once and it scared her.

Jeff, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:20 (five years ago) Permalink

been thinking abt gender and expectations of academic performance...

it seems to me that we've seen, over the last few decades, the emergence of new stereotypes regarding gender and things like general intelligence and ability in math/science. in characters like hermione granger and lisa simpson, we see a girl who easily excels her male peers in these areas, but who is comparatively straightlaced and "uptight". the "nerdy girl" is smart and academically accomplished but socially unskilled and often unhappy/dissatisfied. she is a stickler for rules and order, and is often seen as "annoying" by those around her, adults and children alike. she's basically a modern version of "bossy" and/or "goody-goody" midcentury female comic strip characters like lucy (peanuts) and margaret (dennis the menace), but much more sympathetic and clearly "bright".

the emergence of the nerdy girl runs parallel to a much remarked-on shift in american sitcom family dynamics, where adult male husband/father characters over the same few decades have become increasingly childlike, foolish and irresponsible, exaggerating in their television wives the same "straightlaced" and "uptight" rule-enforcing and behavior monitoring characteristics we see in characters like hermione and lisa. the sitcom wife is not typically (ever?) pictured as truly brilliant, especially not when it comes to things like math and science, but she is often, clearly, a good deal more sensibly intelligent than her husband.

in certain respects, the stereotype of the "less smart woman" is perhaps beginning to be traded out for "smarter, but less fun".

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 15:51 (five years ago) Permalink

i think we've also seen the emergence of an adult version of the nerdy girl character in stereotypical portrayals of the "corporate woman", a character who is typically portrayed as occupying a management position. she is extremely capable, but also rather ruthless and even cruel, a sort of evil twin to the "good" sitcom wife.

a lot of this stuff seems to reflect changing power dynamics in american society, and anxieties about the same.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 16:17 (five years ago) Permalink

This trope is at least as old as Jane Austen. It exists, but it's hardly a new development.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:35 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, what i was going to say. thinking young maggie tulliver in mill on the floss

horseshoe, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:36 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'm not saying that any of this is newly invented (it's not, obviously), but these sorts of images do seem to have gained a fair amount of cultural prominence in the last few decades. in the states, anyway.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 17:39 (five years ago) Permalink

Well actually it was one of the principle objections to female education down through the ages! That educating women to use their minds will make them un-womanly and possibly sterile! This was a classic Georgian to Victorian complaint (I bet you could probably find it as far back as the Classical period.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:41 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, but hermione, for instance, isn't exactly "unwomanly", and lisa clearly vaccilates on that point (probably depending on who's writing the jokes). in these characters and the contemporary sitcom mom/wife, intelligence is, to some extent, positively associated with femininity.

again, not entirely new ("sensible" sitcom wives and "smart, prissy" young girls go back quite a ways), but i see a greater and more positive emphasis on such characters than in the recent past. more thinking aloud than making an argument...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 17:49 (five years ago) Permalink

and then there's everyone's favorite manic pixie dreamgirl!

sarahell, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:55 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

I need to get back on track with my chapter précis, and then come back and demolish this fucker.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Thursday, 15 March 2012 17:44 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

It is very interesting and stuffed with proper citations.

k3vin k., Tuesday, 7 August 2012 01:07 (five years ago) Permalink


undermikey: bidness (Autumn Almanac), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 01:13 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I want to add additional gender options to a form that parents fill in about both themselves and their children. I'm not sure about the best wording.

A colleague who wants to write 'other' and have people write in what they want, but that is 1. not practical for data collation reasons - we need to automatize that - and 2. sounds dismissive to me. Is it? In any case I suspect she is not suggesting this from a place of inclusivity, but I can't be sure.

I suggested adding 'transgender' to the existing 'Male' and 'Female'. Would having just those three options be appropriate? Are there more that should be included? Re the children, another colleague suggested adding 'intersex' but I think parents of intersex children would tick the box corresponding to their child's presenting gender.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 11:46 (three years ago) Permalink

Please avoid "Other" at all costs. It's literally Othering as all hell.

The problem with suggesting "transgender" as a gender is that: 1) it erases the difference of M to F and F to M because "transgender" singular is not really the identity, "trans man" and "trans woman" are the identities. and 2) it disregards non-binary genders and 3) specifying out, if you are going to use "trans" you should really use "cis" as well, but that gets into the bad kettle of fish of forcing people to out themselves. There is considerable debate as to what you should call a third gender option. Personally, I like "non-binary" because there are differences between people who identify as "genderqueer" (both) or "agender" (neither) or something else entirely. Most people agree a third or maybe even fourth option is necessary, but there is disagreement on what it should be.

What is more important is how you phrase the question. The problem is, that the most inclusive language you can use "what gender do you identify as?" or "what gender do you present as?" are the questions which will most confuse cis people (also, ending questions with "as" = grammatically clumsy). I'm sure there are resources out there about good ways of phrasing this question, and a third option in an open and inclusive way that doesn't make cis ppl too upset? I will look for some.

Sorry, this is not a good answer, but basically, I'm mostly aware of what options to avoid, rather than what options are preferred.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 12:14 (three years ago) Permalink

Sorry for multiple posts, but this just occurred to me... the other consideration is, indeed, why are you asking the question? Because there are circumstances under which you are not looking for the person's gender, you are looking for their sex - very specific circumstances, usually involving medical treatment. In which case, M, F, Intersex would be preferred (and possibly some trans options). If you are just asking about gender, consider why you need to know gender at all.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 13:13 (three years ago) Permalink

the other consideration is, indeed, why are you asking the question?

^ not saying this has relevance to ljubljana's situation but lots of places collect info without thinking, I've tried to phase it out of records at previous employers

ogmor, Friday, 4 April 2014 14:36 (three years ago) Permalink

Thanks, BB, that's extremely helpful. I really like the possibility of having a 'non-binary' option.

Currently there is no question as such - just 'Gender' and a list. I'll give that some thought.

Ogmor, you're right, we always need to keep an eye on whether we really going to use the data. I'd rather not say too much on here about the actual studies, but we're interested in parents' gender because of an interest in how that might correlate with the ways they do specific activities with their children. We're interested in children's gender both for that reason, and because there are established (but small) developmental differences in language and other cognitive development.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:06 (three years ago) Permalink

OK, that is a perfectly valid and reasonable reason to be interested in gender. (It's the "what gender should we ~market~ to you as" questions that really irritate me.)

Maybe use "non-binary" with some examples ("e.g. agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, bigender") so that cis people don't get too confused? It's too bad you can't use a freetext for gender, but I understand that would make data collection an absolute nightmare.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:15 (three years ago) Permalink

Why do you keep assuming cis ppl're going to be confused

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Friday, 4 April 2014 15:22 (three years ago) Permalink

can you just put a blank space for people to write in whatever they want?

coops all on coops tbh (crüt), Friday, 4 April 2014 15:31 (three years ago) Permalink

Our first "NOT AAALLLL CIS PEOPLE!!!!" comment. Yay!

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:33 (three years ago) Permalink

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