Friday, August 17th, 2012
Mothers who were laid off during the recession spend longer looking for new jobs than married fathers, according to a new study that was conducted using 2010 data. And when married moms did find new jobs, they experienced a decrease in earnings of $175 more per week compared with married dads. According to a release announcing the study:
The results suggest that the recent recession, dubbed the “man-cession” or “he-cession” because more men than women lost jobs, could also be viewed as a “mom-cession” as laid-off married moms had the hardest time finding new jobs.
“These findings hold true across different backgrounds, such as occupation, earnings, and work history,” said study co-author Brian Serafini, a University of Washington sociology graduate student. “This implies that laid-off moms aren’t just taking part-time jobs or seeing being laid off as a way to opt out of the workforce and embrace motherhood instead.”
Serafini and co-author Michelle Maroto, who will present their findings at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, said that their study supports the notions of a “motherhood penalty” and a “daddy bonus” in the workplace.
“Our study provides evidence of labor market discrimination against women whose family decisions may signal to employers a lack of commitment to the workplace,” said Maroto, formerly a University of Washington sociology graduate student and now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Alberta.
Image: Mother and child at home, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
A drug given to pregnant women with a predisposition toward a rare birth defect in which babies are born with ambiguous genitalia is under fire in a paper published in the journal Bioethical Inquiry. NBC News has more on the paper, which charges that the drug is targeting sexual variations including lesbianism and “tomboyism”:
A new paper by Alice Dreger, a researcher and medical humanities and bioethics professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, targets that controversy and exposes what she regards as the questionable ethics that have allowed a generation of pregnant woman to serve as virtual guinea pigs for fetal engineering.
The paper, published in the journal Bioethical Inquiry, indicts Dr. Maria I. New, the most prodigious promoter of prenatal dexamethasone for CAH [congenital adrenal hyperplasia]. It also criticizes the institutions where New has worked and the federal government, for “de facto experimentation on fetuses and pregnant women, largely outside of prospective long-term trials and without adequate informed consent.”
Dreger charges that the government failed to collect and publish evidence about use of dexamethasone and that public funds were used for research to “prevent benign behavioral sex variations, including tomboyism and lesbianism.”
At issue is the treatment for CAH, an adrenal disorder that causes an overproduction of male hormones. CAH can occur in several forms, but “classic” CAH affects roughly 1 in 16,000 births in the United States. It occurs when two parents each carries a certain genetic mutation. Typically, they’re unaware they’re carriers until a child is born with the disorder.
The condition affects both boys and girls. In boys, it can result in larger penises, short stature and, later in life, cardiovascular and blood pressure problems.
In girls, like [26-year-old Jenny] Westpahl’s daughter, the male hormones can cause ambiguous genitals. That may sound like mainly a cosmetic issue, but girls with CAH can have frequent urinary tract infections. They may be unable to have sexual intercourse, or they may find it extremely painful. Even if they are fertile, they may not be able to bear children.
Image: Pregnant woman with medication, via Shutterstock.
Monday, July 30th, 2012
Approaching math problems impulsively–by guessing at answers from memory rather than carefully calculating their responses–may give boys an edge over girls in the subject. LiveScience.com reports on the study, which concludes that parents of boys and girls alike can help their children by encouraging them to “shout out the answers” in math class:
The University of Missouri study followed 300 students from first grade to sixth grade. During those first two years, the boys called out more answers in class than the girls but also had more wrong answers. Girls were more often right, but answered fewer questions and responded more slowly, according to the university. By sixth grade, the boys were still answering more problems than the girls and were also getting more correct.
Several recent studies have argued that gender differences in math performance have more to do with culture than aptitude. Research published last year found that certain countries — generally ones with more gender equality, better teachers and fewer students living in poverty — showed a smaller gap between males and females in math and some had no gap at all.
Other research has pointed to inherent gender biases in the classroom. One such study found that high school math teachers tended to rate girls’ math abilities lower than those of male students, even when the girls’ grades and test scores were comparable to boys.
Gender issues aside, the researchers of the Missouri study — which was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology — had some advice for parents based on the findings. “Parents can give their children an advantage by making them comfortable with numbers and basic math before they start grade school, so that the children will have fewer trepidations about calling out answers,” David Geary, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.
Image: Elementary school children, via Shutterstock.
Monday, July 9th, 2012
Parents in Missouri are angry and disappointed because an area department store is selling a baby onesie designed with the silhouette of a buxom woman’s body wearing a bikini. From The Huffington Post:
Wild Child, a brand manufactured by Bon Bebe, sized the outfit for 18-month-old girls. But mom Cathryn McKee told [Action News 5] news station, “I just think that is a little ridiculous that you would put that on your child.” One father who spoke on camera says he wouldn’t let his daughter wear the “bikini” because “it gives people the wrong idea too quickly.”
Commenters on the Action News 5 website were split. “It’s vulgar [sic],” one posted. To each his own, another argued. “If you do not like, then do not buy it,” John wrote.
The bikini onesie is only one of the Wild Child outfits on Bon Bebe’s website with a questionable message. Another reads “Lock Up Your Daughters” with a graphic of a padlock printed underneath.
Image via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
The amount of time children spend in front of television screens, their self-esteem is affected…unless the child is a white male. These are the findings of a new study published in the journal Communication Research by Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, and Kristen Harrison, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan.
Martins and Harrison surveyed 400 pre-adolescent children of different races in the Midwest over the period of a year. From a release announcing their findings:
“Regardless of what show you’re watching, if you’re a white male, things in life are pretty good for you,” Martins said of characters on TV. “You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.
“If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles,” she added. “The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.
“This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls.”
With regard to black boys, they are often criminalized in many programs, shown as hoodlums and buffoons, and without much variety in the kinds of roles they occupy.
“Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to,” Martins said. “If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.
“If we think just about the sheer amount of time they’re spending, and not the messages, these kids are spending so much time with the media that they’re not given a chance to explore other things they’re good at, that could boost their self-esteem.”
Martins said their study counters claims by producers that programs have been progressive in their depictions of under-represented populations. An earlier study co-authored by her and Harrison suggests that video games “are the worst offenders when it comes to representation of ethnicity and gender.”
Image: Boy watching television, via Shutterstock.