Sunday, 18 February 2018

Gender stuff.

In one area it seems the gender gap is closing – and a new statistical analysis of life expectancy in England and Wales since 1950 suggests that, by the year 2032, men can expect to live as long as women, with both sexes sharing an average life expectancy of 87.5 years. There you go!

I read stuff yesterday about Helen Sharman. In 1991 she was the first Briton to go into space. A lot of people forget this and assume that Tim Peake was the first. But, no, it was Helen Sharman and she has now been made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. She commented, “While I’ve always been delighted to be a role model in whatever way, I think it’s very powerful that I was the first British astronaut regardless of gender.
While I never get involved with gender-specific events let’s say, I think it’s quite clear to girls that I just get on with it. Was it any more difficult for me? I don’t know because I don’t know what what it’s like to be somebody else, but I can certainly do and so can they.”

So girls should just go out there and do things.

This is interesting because on a TV news report the other day I came across something called the Gender Equality Paradox. This is all about women with lots of opportunities still NOT doing jobs traditionally seen as a male preserve. Apparently the more gender equal countries do not necessarily have more women in traditional masculine professions in science and technology. This is, oddly enough, not necessarily the case in less gender equal countries where women still feel the need to push their way into male preserves.

In general, women figure highly in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science but not in technology. Why? Maybe they prefer caring professions - or are they persuaded that this is the case?

One expert on the television said girls really enjoy studying physics, further maths, etc once they get into it. And yet, in my experience, in our sixth form colleges girls remain a minority in Maths and Physics classes. This must surely influence the numbers studying the subjects at university and then moving into related professions. However, two girls I knew who studied both Maths and Physics for A-Level went on to study Physic at university and now both have a PhD in Physics. It can be done!

I wonder though if part of the answer might be to go back to single sex secondary schools where subjects are not seen as “boys’ subjects” and “girls’ subjects”. There’s an idea!

And finally, there is research going on that suggests that the gender of children can be picked up from their speech from as young as five years old. Mind you, some of this might be down to our preconceptions of what is a male voice or a female voice.The researchers also found that adults heard differences in the speech of boys who prefer male friends and traditionally “male” toys compared with boys who prefer friends of the opposite sex and toys culturally associated with girls. Once again, I wonder about preconceptions.

The article (here it is) goes on a bit about gender identity disorder, now more commonly referred to as gender dysphoria. I find it interesting that this article refers to boys and indicators for boys who might have gender identity problems. No mention of girls! On the plus side, one of the researchers rejected concerns that speech traits in childhood could be used to predict future sexual orientation. Instead, he said, understanding why children pick up sounds from certain people could help researchers aid children who have difficulties learning language.

Thank goodness for a bit of common sense.

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