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Objective fact is sexist?

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From Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media:

Real misogynists used to argue that women couldn’t understand things as well as men could. This patronizing view is both insulting and false, but now it has reemerged in a new way — so-called feminist professors arguing that science itself is misogynist because it deals in objective truth.

That’s one of the daft arguments in “Are STEM Syllabi Gendered? A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis” by the University of North Dakota’s Laura Parson, published in The Qualitative Report at the beginning of this year. While Parson admits that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) syllabi do not have “overt references to gender,” their language “reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging.” More.

Here’s the study by Laura Parson.of U North Dakota:

This study explored the gendered nature of STEM higher education institution through a feminist critical discourse analysis of STEM course syllabi from a Midwest research university. I explored STEM syllabi to understand how linguistic features such as stance and interdiscursivity are used in the syllabus and how language and discourses used in the syllabus replicate the masculine nature of STEM education. Findings suggest that the discourses identified in the syllabi reinforce traditional STEM academic roles, and that power and gender in the STEM syllabi are revealed through exploration of the themes of knowledge, learning, and the teaching and learning environment created by the language used in the syllabus. These findings inform and extend understanding of the STEM syllabus and the STEM higher education institution and lead to recommendations about how to make the STEM syllabus more inclusive for women.
(public access)

It’s not really hard to figure out what is happening here: Now that there are lots of women in the STEM subjects, professional feminists are hurting for work. That sort of person often responds by undermining the fundamental strengths of the discipline, to maintain a small, select grievance group whose main problem is that they neither qualify nor show much interest in doing so, but feel entitled.

That said, this type of situation is downstream from problems at the highest level, for example, the war on falsifiability and the new craze that we did not evolve so as to perceive reality. The assault on objectivity is being waged on a number of fronts and the results bode no good for science in our century. .

See also: In search of a road to reality


The bill arrives for cosmology’s free lunch

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9 Replies to “Objective fact is sexist?

  1. 1
    News says:

    Don’t even suggest that. We certainly don’t need her in newswriting.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:


    Is this for real:

    While Parson admits that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) syllabi do not have “overt references to gender,” their language “reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging.”

    Research, scientific advances, technological transformation and more speak to the utter contrary of such a sentiment. And, as for knowledge in such contexts, as warranted, credibly true and empirically reliable belief, this is inherently subject to further evidence.

    Where, with lives, limbs and economies on the line, there is an inherent need to respect the ordered system of reality we can observe, experience and in part understand and apply, especially using Mathematics and logic with bodies of credible empirical observation.


    PS: I see a clip:

    Syllabi promote the positivist view of knowledge by suggesting that there are correct conclusions that can be drawn with the right tools:

    “A critical thinker considers all available evidence with an open mind and uses appropriate techniques to analyze that evidence and reach a conclusion (Lower level geology).”

    “The main goal is to attain knowledge and comprehension of major concepts and techniques of organic chemistry (Upper level chemistry).”

    As these examples show, the STEM syllabi explored in this study demonstrated a view of knowledge that was to be acquired by the student, which promotes a view of knowledge as unchanging. [–> rubbish! Rational, logical, quantitative, structural and empirically controlled, yes, static and unchanging, no.] This is further reinforced by the use of adverbs to imply certainty such as “actually” and “in fact” which are used in syllabi to identify information as factual and beyond dispute (Biber, 2006a; 2006b). [–> some matters of observation are morally certain, such as that g = 9.8 N/kg near earth’s surface] For example, “draw accurate conclusions from scientific data presented in different formats” (Lower level math). [–> that is, using the logic of structure and quantity relative to credible facts in hand] Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, [–> knowledge as a personal possession is dynamic and is constructed per personal experience and insights, but that is not opposed to its having an objective character that bridges to the real world; this is very likely a case of the Kantian self-referentially incoherent error of the unbridgeable ugly gulch between the inner and outer world; F H Bradley long since highlighted that to claim we may not know the outer world is an implicit claim to certain knowledge about that world] the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make (sic) the correct decision [–> or a correct, or a responsible, or a prudent or an advisable, there being many ways to skin design cats].

  3. 3
    sagebrush gardener says:

    Try reading the original paper (if you can). They have turned mental illness into a fine art and are offering college credit for it.

    Another step closer to the post-modernist hell where the truth doesn’t matter — only whose narrative gets the most airplay.

  4. 4

    Sigh. All you can really do is laugh at this point. There is no helping these people.

    BTW, well said sagebrush.

  5. 5
    jimmontg says:

    Madness! This is SPARTA!!!!!

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Sadly, it is implying that objectivity of research and reporting process, facts [as recorded in syllabi and textbooks etc] and logic — including logic of structure and quantity (= Maths) — locks out girls. This is a case of inadvertent bias in itself, assigning gender to knowledge, facts and logic. Last I checked, both boys and girls possess a brain, can learn facts, do experiments and can think logically sufficiently to design the sort of structures that are involved in engineering designs. Co-opting consructivism as an approach to knowledge and learning and hitching it to radical subjectivism in feminist form, has here produced a disaster. KF

    PS: The opening para tells us a lot, bearing in mind it is meant as survey of “established” fact as context for the main argument to be made:

    Both individual and institutional discrimination still exist in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) higher education, but embedded inequalities have largely replaced more visible forms of discrimination (Monroe, Ozyurt, Wrigley, & Alexander, 2008). Research suggests that the marginalization of female students and faculty persists in STEM education because of institutional factors (Cantu, 2012; Griffith, 2010; Linley & George-Jackson, 2013; Mayberry & Rose, 1999); discrimination is institutionalized through texts, policies, practices, and unwritten norms (Acker, 1990). Institutional texts, such as the syllabus, coordinate the day-to-day work of those within the institution and serve as a link between the local and ruling relations (Campbell & Gregor, 2004).

    Now, think about going up as a humble curriculum developer tasked to meed ABET criteria or the like, and dealing with the content and depth explosion that has impacted STEM in recent decades, and then ask yourself how policy decisions on STEM would be driven by people who think like this and take cultural marxist narratives as “facts,” aiming to “liberate” us from such “discrimination,” etc.

    Then, generalise per “one slice of a cake has in it all the ingredients”: ask yourself what it has been like going up against such in positions of power in the halls of power all across our civilisation. That explains a lot about the poor quality of policies we have been facing, in many spheres for decades now but especially over the past decade or so.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Notice this as conceptual framework:

    This study was framed through the lens of poststructuralist feminist thought to provide a lens through which I explored how power is gendered (Hesse-Biber, 2014). Poststructuralism “rejects objectivity and the notions of an absolute truth and single reality,” and “knowledge is complicated, contradictory, and contingent to a certain social context and historical context.” (Hesse-Biber, 2014, p. 44).

    Sounds familiar? The issues on how evolutionary materialistic scientism undermines coherence, confidence in mind and ability to recognise responsible rational freedom all lurk here. And there is a telling rejection of ex falso, quodlibet, the principle of explosion from a falsehood embedded in what is accepted as knowledge. Not to mention more than briefly, that when the false becomes the yardstick of knowledge, real truth corresponding accurately to reality will be rejected leading to marches of ruinous folly.

  8. 8
    News says:

    Dean from Ohio at 9: Do you want to pay their psychiatric bills when they come into conflict with the real world?

    Don’t go there unless you have control of the budget entitlements.

  9. 9
    Phinehas says:

    …views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging.

    We shouldn’t give Ms. Parson such a hard time. I’m sure what she wrote was true when she wrote it.

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