I read an article in my local paper a few weeks ago that debunked the notion that girls simply didn't have the same aptitude in math that boys have. It got me to thinking about why this idea even exists in the first place. It also got me to thinking about women and critical thinking. While it's hardly a scientific study, in my experience, women seem to be much more likely to believe in things like astrology, past lives, angels, etcetera. I also seem to recall a study that showed that women are generally more likely to have religious beliefs.
Could it be possible that women simply don't think as much as men? That for some reason, they just aren't able to be logical about things? Hmmm...I suppose I could see how I might think this if it weren't for the fact that I'm married and my wife is much more suited to making important decisions than I am. I'm sure that sounds familiar to many married fellas out there, as I really don't think that this sort of situation is an anomaly.
Also, as a teacher, I've run into many girls who are critical thinkers and are so smart that the only advantage that I have on them is the fact that I'm older. In about ten years, I expect many of them to be a whole lot smarter than me. I should also mention my wife. While she's not the type to tell you what logical fallacy you're using by name, she is definitely a logical thinker, and she's not easily swayed by fanciful stories that appeal more to emotion than to reason.
For those of you who are reading this on my Blogspot page, there are a bunch of links to fellow bloggers with a skeptical/atheistic attitude. Half of them are from women, and this isn't because I deliberately tried to mix it up a bit.
So, what's going on here? Personally, I think that it's simply because generally speaking, women aren't encouraged to think critically when they're young. It's not expected of them to be logical while they're little girls. Now, obviously this is starting to turn around, but it's going to take a few generations, as we're still dealing with the legacy of a patriarchal system where women were expected to be nurturers and little else. (Here's a shock - they can do both!)
One of these days, I'll have a little girl of my own. I'll encourage her to be critical, and I'll expect her to do her best in science and math. I won't assume that she can't hack it.
What's sad is, you have to wonder about all the potential that has gone to waste over the years. Sure, there have been plenty of iconoclastic women out there who have made a name for themselves for their intelligence...but dang, you gotta wonder how different this world would be...