Please excuse the offensive title, but I am currently in a battle over gender issues with my sociologist daughter, Lilly. While most of her research in her PhD studies relates to food access, she is keenly attuned to issues affecting women. For example, a while back she produced a research paper on gender bias in student evaluations of faculty. I will describe as well as I can how she does her research and then will follow with an example of my own.
Lilly authored her paper with two colleagues. She and another male colleague each taught two sections of an introductory sociology course, one as themselves and one as the other. They graded all of the students’ work together using the same rubric. At the end of the course the students evaluated the faculty member on the same criteria.
The faculty member perceived as male received slightly higher ratings in each of the twelve categories. While this was a small sample the implications were evident. It appeared that both males and females held women to a different standard than they did their male counterparts. The paper garnered a small amount of national press which made me and my wife extremely proud. You can read more about her paper at The Huffington Post through this link:
I consider myself to be one of the good guys regarding the roles of males and females, and she continually reminds me of my vestigial Neanderthal bent. As a thirty year educator and general stat-head I have occasionally taken upon my own research studies albeit somewhat less professionally.
The Dookie Project
My friend Tyrone, who is somewhat less enlightened than myself, often begins a conversation with a provocative research question such as “Why don’t women have a sense of humor?” I tried to explain to him that his use of anecdotal evidence is unscientific and possibly even misogynistic. Something happened however that gave us the opportunity for a slightly more refined test. While heading into an office for a doctor visit with my wife, I saw a sign that caused me to laugh out loud. I immediately took out my phone and took a picture of the sign.
As you can see, this doctor has a name that is also used in some cultures as a piece of excrement. Besides being used as a noun, it can also be used as a verb similar to crap, poop, or shit. Like many men, I am of the firm belief that everyone should try to be twelve years old at least once per day. During one of these moments, I laughed at this sign. Of course, my wife did not. What really torqued her off was when I took out my phone to photograph the sign.
“You’re going to send that to Tyrone, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Of course I am,” I replied. “He’ll get a big laugh out of it.”
The fact that she knew I was sending this to Tyrone indicated that she also knew at some level, that this was funny to somebody. I texted the picture to Tyrone with the caption, “If you don’t laugh at this, I’ll eat my hat.” For good measure, I sent it to my friend Marcus with the comment, “I’ll pay you $50 if you don’t laugh at this.” Tyrone called me back immediately still in the throes of laughter. When I called Marcus later to find out if I owed him a fifty, he said, “Of course I laughed, but my wife didn’t get why it was funny.”
My feedback to date was split completely along gender lines, or possibly maturity lines assuming that they are not the same thing. I began to deepen my research by sending this to both males and females with the simple question, “Did you laugh?” The results continued to be pretty much the same. Cousin Beth didn’t get it, but her husband Rob laughed out loud. I wasn’t sure he’d get the reference, but he reminded me that he grew up in the Bronx. My nephew Mike was offended at the mere suggestion that he didn’t laugh, while his mother Judy was unamused. My daughter Lilly admitted to laughing, but that was pretty clearly at me rather than with me.
It continued pretty much along these lines until I had enough data for a conclusion. It appears that women indeed do not have a sense of humor. You can decide for yourself who’s research is more sound. Oh, and by the way, the Huffington Post has yet to interview me regarding my research.
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