The always interesting 3 Quarks Daily blogs an article from the City Journal, titled "Math is Harder for Girls," a response to a recent New York Times article that came to the defense of the fairer sex with a little statistical hootchycoo, proving in the process that, while journalists may not be very good mathematicians, chivalry is clearly not dead at the Times.
Heather MacDonald points out, as I noted in an earlier post, that while mean scores are similar between boys and girls, boys tend to fall out on the outer edges of the bell curve--they are overrepresented among both the best and the worst math students. So to say that boys outnumber girls among the best math students is absolutely correct.
Tamar Lewin, who wrote the original Times story, either considers this statistically insignificant, or just plain misreported it.
Now I am not particularly interested in whether boys are better at math than girls or vice-versa. What I am interested in is the abuse of science for ideological purposes. When Lawrence Summers was run off from Harvard recently for speculating about this issue, I pointed out that what cost him his job was not what the data on the relative math skills of boys and girls were, but rather that he questioned the difference in the sexes at all. The bottom line is that to say girls are fundamentally different from boys in any respect will today get you run off from the our institutions of higher learning--those bastions of free inquiry and academic freedom.
I imagine the Times coverage of this issue was driven by its politically correct ideological agenda. That is, in any case, its customary MO. With ideologues, science always takes a back seat to politics. Facts really don't matter to their position; all that matters is where they fit in their ideological Procrustean bed.
In fact, I wonder what the folks over at the University of Kentucky's Gender and Women's Studies program think of all this. Where do the conservative members of their staff fall out on this issue?
Oh, I forgot. There aren't any conservatives there.