While Parson admits that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) syllabi do not have "overt references to gender," their language "reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging."No, Ms. Parson, you don't understand. Knowledge is changing, it's just that the things covered in the undergraduate syllabi you were reviewing are so generally well-known and well-accepted that the risk of them being disproved is quite low. Graduate classes are more volatile, but still likely to be transferring knowledge that won't be disproved in that academic term. That's why an undergraduate program can be quit and restarted many years later without losing credits, while a graduate program must be started over after four years out of school. A syllabus is by nature a road map for a certain class. It explains what will be covered in the class and what the students are expected to know to pass the class. In essence; you're looking at a snapshot and criticizing it for not being a movie.
The problem is that she doesn't stop there. She goes and invokes the relativism argument.
...[T]he STEM syllabi explored in this study demonstrated a view of knowledge that was to be acquired by the student, which promotes a view of knowledge as unchanging. This is further reinforced by the use of adverbs to imply certainty such as "actually" and "in fact" which are used in syllabi to identify information as factual and beyond dispute (Biber, 2006a; 2006b). For example, "draw accurate conclusions from scientific data presented in different formats" (Lower level math). Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make (sic) the correct decision.The problem is that in STEM fields, knowledge is not "constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge", it is obtained by experiment, and very often hard won. In fact, a lot of truth was won by the blood of innocent victims of deficient designs - because no one knew any better. See, for example, our little story about the DeHavilland Comet just a few days ago. As Richard Feynman said, “It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong”. I'm sorry if that offends your feminist studies mindset, but there is objective truth. What you're saying, Ms. Parson, is that if someone properly "constructed" the argument that they could walk on air and were convinced it was true, they could walk off the observation deck of Empire State Building and not immediately plunge to their death.
That there are no inviolable truths is a hard line communist viewpoint and is one thing that crippled the Soviet Union. If the party says something it must be true because the party is never wrong, and this led to problems.
Again, the problem is she doesn't stop there. In saying there's no truth behind what STEM fields are teaching, she's saying engineering, science and math are bad.
How could something so manifestly beneficial to all as engineering be deconstructed as inherently sexist, racist, or homophobic? Well, Parson shows us how, and demonstrates that no field of knowledge is truly safe from the Social Justice Warriors of the mind.Or, to borrow a quote from Reason's Robby Soave again,
Parson's paper attacks even mundane things like stylistic choices — command words like "will" and "must" — as inherently masculine and anti-woman. She examines syllabi, and voila! — they have these "sexist" words. Yes, that's because a syllabus is by nature a set of instructions about a certain class. As Reason.com's Robby Soave put it, "a syllabus is not a negotiation," it's a roadmap. Does Parson attack Google Maps as sexist because it orders the user to "turn here" or "make a U-turn"? Please.
Nevertheless, this "feminist" attacks such language for creating "a competitive, difficult, chilly climate" which "marginalizes women." Does that mean women aren't able to compete in a difficult climate? Imagine what Hillary Clinton would do to Donald Trump if he made this argument with a straight face.
According to Parson, such language reinforces "a competitive, difficult, chilly climate." This climate "marginalizes women." Why? Because they're delicate snowflakes who couldn't possibly handle a little competition and difficulty—implicitly, that's what Parson is saying.The reality, of course, is that Parson is insulting and dissing women because she, personally, can't do those things and she can't understand the mindset of hard science. How can she possibly suggest women can't be scientists, surgeons, engineers, physicians and so many other careers that women are currently working in?
Final quote to Tyler O'Neil:
Parson has the nerve to call herself a "feminist" when her argument boils down to "women can't compete in math and science because the very idea of objective truth is sexist." We live in a truly fascinating and terrifying era where the worst excesses of the old racism and misogyny are being reintroduced in the name of equality and civil rights. Black students fight against integration, against the idea of having white roommates. Colleges host openly racist RA trainings. "Feminists" argue that women can't do science.