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Aparna’s Week 2: BBC Podcast Response

“There’s more variation in males than there is in females. There’s fewer dolts among women but there are also fewer geniuses. This is a biological fact that you’ll find for almost any strain there is variation. And so it’s actually very unlikely that there’s ever going to be 50-50 Nobel Prize winners for example and to set that up for women as a goal, I think is a mistake” (Dr. Helena Cronin 18:27-18:53).

In the podcast “In Our Time,” Feminism with Melvyn Bragg, Dr. Helena Cronin argues for Darwinism, which is the theory that evolution has created innate biological differences between men and women. She believes that we need to change society to allow women to succeed given their biological limits. Meanwhile, Dr. Germaine Greer emphasizes that the difference between men and women is determined by society; not science. Both women agree that there are differences between men and women and treat gender as a binary. However, their main point of contention is where that difference comes about.

Throughout the podcast, Dr. Helena Cronin argues for her opinions on the differences between men and women under the guise of science. We can see this in action with the quote above. She offers her opinion that we cannot expect a 50-50 split between male and female Nobel Prizer winners, and defends it with a “biological fact.” First of all, such a fact has little merit because it is hard to compare intelligence. IQ tests and other standardized tests are now known to be flawed systems of judging intelligence, especially when there are so many different types of intelligence (ie. logical, emotional, etc.). Second, it is so difficult to ignore the societal factors that impact the number of female Nobel Prizer winners. Women in the past and present struggle to gain access to educational opportunities. In fact, women are banned from going to school in certain areas. That is clearly a societal constraint on the level of education that a woman can receive rather than a biological one. Additionally, the board that decides the winners of the Nobel Prize tend to be filled with men who have their own biases, which is another societal limit. Finally, there are general constraints within society that drive women away from working, such as a lack of maternity leave and support for working mothers.


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January 2020