Darwin-L Message Log 6:67 (February 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<6:67>From jrc@anbg.gov.au  Sat Feb 12 17:30:10 1994

From: jrc@anbg.gov.au (Jim Croft)
Subject: Re: Popular science and 19th century women
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 1994 10:29:39 +1100 (EST)

Bayla Singer Wrote:

> Pressing flowers, of course, is girls' work, while snagging birds' eggs is
> boys' work. :-)

OI!  You had better not let our team of our team of team of botanical
taxonomists, technicians and preparators, a large number of whom are
afflicted with the dreaded Y chromosome syndrome, hear you say that!

But there may be an element of truth in there somewhere.  I have long
felt that the testosterone levels (of both sexes) was on average higher
in zoology departments than botany departments, based on subjective
assessment of profesional assertiveness, aggression, bellicosity and
overall stroppiness.

Have there been any objective sociological (or biological?) studies of
this topic?  I suspect that the situation today would not be markedly
different (although the words describing it might be) to Peter Stevens
observations of attitudes of botanicial and zoological approaches to
natural history of a couple of centuries ago.  Seems like an immutable
fact of nature to me...

Wrestling with this problem of increased testosterne levels in zoology
departments, it occurred that this might merely relflect the higher
proportion of males in these organizations, compared with botany
departments.  But the situation is more complex.  How do we account for
the higher than expected levels of pugnacity in female zoologists when
compared with female botanists?  Are we talking nature or nurture, some
sort of pheromonal guilt by association or an as yet to be discovered non
sex-linked zoology locus on the human genome?

These outrageous assertions can be made without fear of flame from
female zoologists (or even male ones), as for them to attack me will
simply confirm the thesis ;-)  But those botanists that should have been
born zoologists are a bit of a worry...

Jim Croft           [Herbarium CBG]               internet: jrc@anbg.gov.au
Australian National Botanic Gardens                  voice:  +61-6-2509 490
GPO Box 1777, Canberra, ACT 2601, AUSTRALIA            fax:  +61-6-2509 599
______Biodiversity Directorate, Australian Nature Conservation Agency______

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