Janet Hyde, a former psychology department head and women’s studies professor at the University of Wisconsin, employs a familiar argument in explaining research showing that gender-based differences in the throwing of a ball are considerable:
“The more we argue for gender differences, the more we feed people’s stereotypes. A belief in large gender differences is incompatible with equal opportunity.”
But the theory forwarded by University of North Texas education dean Jerry Thomas is that these differences may be less biological than neurological, and that better techniques can help females improve their performance.
Whether those methods would fully close the “gender gap” is left unexamined — does it need to be closed at all? — but that’s not really the point as far as Hyde is concerned.
For when it comes to belief and science, those claiming to be scientists but whose first duty is to stamp out “stereotypes” are instead the blindest of true believers.
Hyde’s “scholarship” has gained plenty of mainstream currency, especially mathematical aptitude differences between the sexes that she insists are rooted in cultural stereotypes above all else.
I’m neither a scholar nor a researcher, but a former youth athlete (and lousy at math) who had just as good an arm as the boys until puberty.
Perhaps it is too anecdotal to admit that I realized then that I was actually a girl, even though I’ve never thought I threw like one.
I would love to believe that continued research into these topics would include the scholarly freedom to honestly explore where the line between culture and biology exists, no matter how blurred.
But the virtually unchallenged respectability that Hyde enjoys is not encouraging.