UW science school dismisses science on sex differences

The University of Washington School of Computer Science is dismissing the science behind sex differences after a professor argued that men and women are different. 

The controversy began on June 19, when UW-Seattle Professor Stuart Reges argued in an essay for Quillette that women are less likely to pursue computer science degrees due to sex differences in career preferences, as well as verbal and mathematical reasoning. 

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“If men and women are different, then we should expect them to make different choices,” Reges wrote, going on to summarize the findings of a University of Pittsburgh study, a study published by the National Academy of Science, and one from Leeds Beckett University. 

These studies discovered, respectively, that women have broader academic interests due to their higher verbal ability, that women are choosing not to enter STEM fields, and that countries with the most gender equality have the least women entering STEM. 

Reges concluded that “Women can code, but often they don’t want to. We will never reach gender parity,” though he did concede during an interview with Campus Reform that parity might be reached in the case of Orwellian social engineering. 

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Four days after the article was published, UW School of Science Director Hank Levy emailed the campus to say that “We disagree with the conclusions drawn in the article.”

When reached by Campus Reform, however, Levy would not say whether he had actually read Reges’ article, nor whether he reviewed the research Reges cited within. Spokeswoman Kristin Osborn replied on his behalf, and similarly declined to clarify if the research had been reviewed before it was condemned.

Instead, Osborn told Campus Reform that “We disagree with the assertion that gender differences and preferences [help] explain the disparity between men and women in computer science and engineering.” 

Although nowhere in his article does Reges attribute the lack of women in computer science solely to sex differences, Osborn added that “we disagree with the notion that any one factor could be seen as greater than any other.” 

When Campus Reform asked whether school officials had actually read the data Reges was citing, Osborn replied that “The source data used in the piece is not our concern, and we don’t believe it would be productive to comment on it.” 

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Speaking to Campus Reform by phone, Reges expressed confusion that an institution dedicated to scientific inquiry would dismiss an academic’s conclusions without reviewing the research those conclusions are based upon. 

“This is what science should be about. UW already decided based on ideology, not science, that they disagree with my conclusions,” Reges asserted. 

“When you’re sure you know the right answer before you even look at evidence to the contrary, you cease to be a scientist,” he added. “It’s a classic case of what Jordan Peterson has described as ideological possession.”

Reges also pushed back against UW’s misreading of his article, specifically their assertion to Campus Reform that Reges ascribed the lack of women in computer science completely to sex differences in ability and preferences. 

“And as I said in my article: the more I study the gender disparity in coding, the more I realize there are no simple answers,” he noted. “I even had a section in my Quillette essay called: ‘It’s complicated,’ but what I’m saying is that [gender differences are] a significant factor that many in academia are ignoring.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen