A new report found there's no convincing evidence that women innately lack scientific abilities, despite being underrepresented in technical fields. However, studies do show girls' performance suffers when they're told females are bad at math. [SFGate, Babble]
Awhile ago, someone pointed out (in a different post, obviously) that education, in the eyes of many, has become "feminized". I remember thinking about it and realizing that at my university, the subjects everyone makes fun of for being "useless" are arts subjects. The science subjects— the subjects that are still male-dominated—are very well respected, even though my degree in pure mathematics has about as many obvious connections to "the real world" as an art history degree. I don't think this is coincidence.
This got me thinking about what would happen if things had happened differently—if women had made gains in the sciences and arts subjects remained male-dominated. I think we'd hear very similar accusations of women not being good enough, but for slightly different reasons:
"Anyone can do math and science—all you have to do is be methodical and have a basic grasp of cause and effect and logic. Women can't do art and literature because the subtleties are just beyond them."
"Of course women do well at things like biology—their menstrual cycles mean they naturally understand the cycles in nature better. But high-minded discussions of the arts are just beyond them because they can't discuss the emotional reaction a piece evokes without getting emotional themselves (due to their hormone cycles). They're either coldly rational or over-emotional. There is never any inbetween."
"Women lack the technical skills that men naturally possess that makes them better artists and musicians."
I could go on. I bet the rest of you could also come up with some great examples (which I would love to read). The point is that no matter where women made gains or remained behind, there would have been a ton of pseudo-scientific explanations for why women are "naturally" better or worse then men at certain subjects and I'm glad that people are finally taking the time to prove (in scientific terms, no less) that that attitude is bullshit.