The Science Of Feminism: 9 Studies Of Gender (In)Equality

In the battle for equality, what does the science say about gender?

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In the quest for gender equality, emotions run high, anecdotal evidence is rife and a lot of people get very, very upset.

We have come a long way in the West in terms of gender equality. Women can go to university and can no longer be traded for the price of three goats or beaten with impunity, and men are no longer forced to go to war or earn all of the money to support their families. Yay for progress.

However, there is still quite a way to go on both sides.

Away from the politics and the impassioned arguments, scientists have also been doing their bit to try and understand the crazy world of gender relations. These are both an attempt to shine a light on the causes and investigate the effects of an inherently unequal society.

Hopefully, in the very near future, this article will be completely out of date and we will have an equal society but, for the time being, let's take a closer look at what we're working with.

9. Do Women Really Talk A Lot?

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The stereotype is that women talk a lot. They jabber on endlessly and men remain silent, perhaps rolling their eyes and saying "yes dear" every now and again. This, however, does not quite ring true.

There have been various studies on talkativeness and conversation dominance, one of the most famous being the ones conducted Dale Spender, Australian feminist scholar, teacher and writer.

She observed classroom interactions in mixed groups and noted a severe bias towards male dominance. Teachers were often completely unaware of the imbalance and were only able to see the male dominated interactions after listening to a recording of their class. Moreover, when the teachers attempted to consciously redress the balance, they found that they were still paying more attention to the boys.

The perception of who dominates the conversation is also skewed. In another study, it was found that when the balance was about 50/50, both the teacher and the male students felt that the conversation was being dominated by the girls by as much as 90%. 

This is bred into us from an early age. In a study of 2-5 year olds, parents interrupted their daughters far more than their sons and fathers in particularly are more likely to talk simultaneously with their children in an attempt to control the conversation.

Basically, even when women are still talking less than men, they are still perceived to be dominating the conversation, perhaps because of the old wisdom that women shouldn't really be talking at all. Spender concluded that this perception of female dominated conversation is due to women's talkativeness being measured, not against their male counterparts, but against total silence.

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