Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doreen Kimura, On Ada Lovelace Day

This is the day in the calendar year when one is supposed to write about a women in a STEM occupation whose contributions one admires—a woman who does or has done something admirable somewhere in Science, Technology, Mathematics, Engineering or Mathematics. The day is named for the first woman to write computer code, Ada Lovelace.

I'm going to write a tiny bit about Doreen Kimura who was a professor and neuroscientist at Simon Fraser University. She died in February at the age of about 80. Some of her research had to do with how cognitive abilities differed between the sexes. When I read about research like that I usually think how little it matters for individuals. Simply put, there's overlap in every ability between the sexes.

However, at least in the articles I've read about her on the 'net, Kimura is resolutely forthright and honest. She opposed affirmative action. In her wikipedia article it says that she thought this demeaning to women. In the article on science.ca I understand her to say that forcing people into unsuitable careers can make them miserable. (And career developers could hardly disagree.)

So, Kimura found differences but didn't think that this meant that society should try to make up the difference—or something like that!

I cannot say that I admire Kimura for the results of her research. I really don't care whether men are better at dealing with mathematics and three-dimensional shapes, or whether women are better at spatial arrangements for that matter. I have enjoyed reading about someone who seems to separate issues clearly and to speak their mind about them. (I would like people to have the freedom and the resources to pursue possibilities of their choosing.)

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