14 June 2007

Still No Gender Equity in Physics

It has long been known that at the elite levels of math and physics, women lag men badly. While Harvard University fired Larry Summers for hinting at the mere possibility of gender inequity at elite levels of math and physics, people who actually work in the field have known about the disparity for many years.

Harvard researchers recently claimed to be able to narrow the gender gap using improved interactive teaching methods, but a newer, larger, more definitive study done at CU Boulder suggests that better teaching methods may actually widen the gender gap!
Interactive classes don't necessarily solve the performance imbalance between the genders in physics classes, according to a new study that stands in stark contrast to previous physics education research. In fact, while students as a rule benefit from interactive classrooms, the teaching technique may even increase the imbalance in some cases.

The conclusion comes from research at the University of Colorado at Boulder where physics professors attempted to duplicate an earlier Harvard study. The researchers in both studies looked at interactive teaching methods, which can include online homework systems, help-room sessions, student discussions, and other methods that have not typically been part of science classes in the US.

Unlike the Harvard study, which showed significant narrowing in the performance gap between male and female students, the CU Boulder study indicated that the gap stayed roughly the same in both partially and fully interactive classrooms. There were some instances where the gender gap got worse, particularly in the partially interactive classrooms.

On the bright side, both male and female students performed better in the interactive classes than students laboring in traditional lecture-based classes. Overall, however, male students benefited as much or more than females, which doesn't help to narrow gender-based performance gaps.

While Harvard researchers under new President Drew Faust appear committed to gender equity in physics (whether it actually exists or not), the intelligence research community at large has had no success in finding a way to narrow the gender gap.

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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

Nevermind the improvement interactive classrooms brought to students of both genders. They didn't achieve an attenuation of the gender disparity, and therefore are of no value!

Thursday, 14 June, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

Well, yes. One must mind the truly important issues, after all. Training better physicists means nothing if we cannot attain gender equity.

You know when the leftist PC bias pervades even science press releases, that mind buggery is succeeding brilliantly in journalism and academia.

Friday, 15 June, 2007  

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