Monday, November 01, 2004

Re: Genetic superiority

Some thoughts on the discussion at Sean Carroll's blog about women in physics, genetics, etc.

The genetic argument, I imagine, goes something like that in The Bell Curve.That is, there is some quantity, like I.Q., that may be reliably measured, and that may correspond to something real, and for any population, the distribution falls into a bell-curve. The peak of the bell-curves for men and women are slightly different, supposedly for genetic reasons. Physicists are drawn from the extreme tail of the bell-curve, and so the small difference in means produces a significant difference in the ratio of men to women in the field.

Every statement in the above is debatable. Anyway, that is only one part of the problem. But if such a description is true (which, incidentally, I do not believe), then physics will be male-dominated. Nevertheless, some women qualify to play, and it is a fair question to ask whether they face obstacles above and beyond the usual ones in physics, simply because they are women. The talk given by Georgi, referenced here, would indicate that the answer is yes.