Friday, March 15, 2013

Kudos To Sara Volz

This is good news:

Sara Volz of Colorado Springs won first place — and $100,000 — in an Intel Foundation science competition for her research into algae biofuels. (Courtesy of Sara Volz)
Sara Volz has lived and breathed her science project on algae biofuels since ninth grade — in fact, she has literally slept the research, in a loft bed just above her home lab lined with flasks of experimental cultures.
That self-driven dedication helped earn 17-year-old Volz, a senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, the top honors in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, a national competition that features a $100,000 award.
Why is this good news for other women and girls except for  Sara Volz herself?  Because it is an entry into one kind of conversation, the kind that some misogynist sites conduct, the kind that the weird evolutionary psychologists (Satori Kanazawa and Roy Baumeister ) support, the kind which argues that women have never invented or created anything whatsoever, that, indeed, women are biologically and innately incapable of creating anything at all because it is the men who have had the need in the past to create things or otherwise they would not have gotten laid.

This particular conversation is linked to the idea that men have evolved more than women, due to sexual competition for mates and other similar poorly-studied and unscientific arguments.  The crux of that argument is that men are creative because our ancestors had to be, to get mates, but women are not creative because men f**k anything that moves.  So even quite stupid women passed their genes on but only the Einsteins among the Pleistocene men managed to pass their genes on.  And as today's evo-psychos think that smart genes (if they exist) are inherited solely from the same-sex parent, well, there you are!

It never occurred to me that publicizing creative and intellectual ventures by women could be taken in any other way than as a response to that continuous muttering I have had in my life from the beginning, the idea that Roy Baumeister summarized as men having created all of culture.  To take it in any other way seemed just utterly and totally weird.

But the same anti-women sites who tell me that women cannot as much as draw a stick figure also tell me that the tiniest, silliest little research project by women is now publicized, whereas men get no support at all. 

Which is, naturally, utter and total rubbish.  But what they really mean is that the success stories of individual men are written up as just that, success stories of individual men, not as stories about the whole gender.  The reason for doing it differently for women and girls is naturally in that misogynistic background muttering.  If some people really believe that women cannot be creative, well, then we must remind them of the facts that contradict that belief.