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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brilliance

Here is an article that kind of pisses me off, since it is dripping with sexist assumptions. It seems to assume that women will always see themselves as hardworking drudges and attribute brilliance only to men.

Also, there are some places where you need brilliance. That spark of true intelligence is pretty rare, and few have it. If we give that up, then what are those people supposed to do?

9 comments:

Thomas said...

I share your reaction. Why shouldn't the conclusion be to recognise that women can be brilliant too? It does a huge disservice to women to suggest (as the researchers explicitly do) that if you want to include more women you'll have to stop valuing brilliant people.

Jonathan said...

There is also the idea that we should not value substantive intellectual contributions, because that might make people who don't make those contributions bad. Well, though shit.

Jonathan said...

tough shit I mean.

profacero said...

You have to be brilliant for everything. I get so tired of people saying it is all work. You must start with being brilliant at whatever it is.

Of course this is what women are always told about relationships as well. Attraction and sex ("brilliance") will wear off but friendship ("success") will grow if you work at it, therefore, choose someone with money or a solid skill and work at growing friendship. UGH. I saw through that in 4th grade when they taught it, and I am certainly not going to adopt it for academics. Drudgery is just so NOT where it's at, no matter how many shirts the Christians are hawking on any given day.

profacero said...

*hair shirts, I meant

Thomas said...

In re "the idea that we should not value substantive intellectual contributions": I think this is also an attack on individualism, which has a long history. I think Norman Mailer was right to worry about feminism, not as a threat to men, but as a threat to individualism. The Princeton researchers confirm his fears. I've been reading William Whyte's Organization Man lately. Feminism is becoming the new gray.

Thomas said...

On second thought: Maybe it's not feminism, but the larger "progressivism" in which it plays an important part. Identity politics seems to be the business of getting people to question who they are, not in order to become themselves, but to decide what group(s) they identify with (by race, by sexuality, by profession, by ideology, by religion, by gender). It's what Cyril Connolly called the Group Man.

Jonathan said...

It's a poor feminism that reserves brilliance for men.

xykademiqz said...

A great part is socialization. I work in a STEM field that has a strong math and physics component. I have graduated 2 women and 3 men with PhDs so far and within then next 3 years I will have graduated another 2 women and 5 men.

I can tell you this: women simply listen to instructions. I have never had to repeat to a woman that something has to be done as many times as I routinely have to for many of my male students.

All my students are pretty good, better than average in the department. I have had two "brilliant" guys in my group over the years. You know what these pearls of brilliance do? They are a fuckin' nightmare to try to coach, they don't listen to advice, they are nearly impossible to work with because of the know-it-all attitude. We tend to associate being an asshole with being brilliant. Nope. Being an asshole is just being an asshole. One of the brilliant guys, who graduated about 3 years ago, has dug himself into a bottomless pit working for a colleague I told him time and again was a bad idea to work for because said colleague is a well-funded egomaniac, who has tons of money but holds onto his postdocs indefinitely and never helps them reach independence. But my former student knew better. Well, he's never leaving that group now. It's a shame.

The women I have worked with were on average both technically stronger and and more intelligent than the average dude. The main difference is that the women actually do what they said they would do, rather than act as petulant teenagers well into their 20's.

Also, women tend to have problems with asserting themselves. My current female student is what I would call brilliant. It took nearly 2 years for her to unclench, to get past her (foreign) upbringing where you are supposed to defer to authority and just be agreeable at all cost, and actually show me what she's got. She's super smart! She's just not as much of a jerk about it as the currently smartest of the guys who think he's the bee's knees.