Il contributo delle donne all’umanità

Non tutto è uguale nella storia dell’uomo, le eccellenze esistono.

Tutti noi possiamo rendere migliore la vita a chi ci sta vicino, e in questo scommetto che le donne fanno mediamente un buon lavoro. Tuttavia, ci sono alcuni “grandi geni” che hanno reso la vita migliore all’intera umanità.

Il relativista tende a negare: tutto è relativo, per lui. Il “meglio” e il “peggio” non esistono in assoluto.

Contro chi  nega, l’unica via è dettagliare. Cosa intendere per “grande conquista dell’umanità”? Ecco, di fronte al caso concreto negare o relativizzare diventa sofistico.

E’ quello che fa Charles Murray nel suo “Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950”.

La prima tesi del libro è quindi chiara: le eccellenze esistono:

… In their effect on the individual’s freedom to pursue happiness, the creation of prosperous and free societies is the greatest of all achievements by humans on behalf of other humans….

Seconda tesi: le eccellenze non sono vaghe, sono cose concrete dettagliabili in un inventario:

… book’s first thesis: the dimensions and content of human accomplishment can be apprehended as facts…

Si assume che nel valutare le eccellenze artistiche e scientifiche i fatti siano separabili dalle opinioni.

Si deve poi procedere ad un inventario specifico. Murray considera il periodo dall’ 800 avanti Cristo al 1950 dopo Cristo. Il suo inventario è assemblato ricorrendo alle enciclopedie più prestigiose in ogni campo delle scienze e delle arti…

… I have assembled inventories that contain the people and events most important to the story of human accomplishment in the arts and sciences from –800 to 1950…

L’inventario non deve soffrire eccezioni e comprendere l’ opera dell’intera umanità…

… In this chapter, as for the European role in the preceding chapter, I document the reasons for concluding that the inventories fairly represent the role played by people who were not males and not white…

***

Alcune domande sorgono. Per esempio: come mai la donna ha contribuito tanto poco all’eccellenza umana?

Esempio…

… Just as only two percent of the mathematics significant figures were women, two percent of all the significant figures were women—88 out of the 4,002 persons in the inventories…

La prima donna dell’inventario…

… The earliest woman to appear in the inventories is the Greek poet, Sappho of Lesbos, in –6C. A thousand years later comes the next woman, the natural philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria…

Prima donna nelle arti visive…

… The first woman to qualify as a significant figure in the visual arts is Wen Shu (1595–1634) of Ming China…

Prima donna nelle scienze…

… The first woman to qualify in any of the scientific inventories after Hypatia is astronomer Caroline Herschel (1750–1848), sister and colleague of William Herschel…

Prima donna nella musica…

… The first and only woman in the music inventory is French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)…

Nella filosofia, poi, non ci sono donne.

In parte il contributo irrisorio è dovuto all’esclusione ma nel XIX secolo le cose sono più complesse, le donne godono di una graduale parificazione formale. In questo senso il parallelo con gli ebrei risulta utile

… The dearth of women in the inventories until 19C and 20C reflects near-total exclusion, by law and social pressure, from the possibility of participating. But the legal emancipation of women, which began in 19C at about the same time as Jewish emancipation, took even longer to complete….

Eppure il contributo da irrisorio “sale” a minimo. Un progresso davvero esiguo…

… During the most recent half century we are examining, 1900–1950, women still constituted only 5 percent of significant figures in the hard sciences, 3 percent in mathematics, 7 percent in medicine, and none in technology. In the combined arts inventories, women constituted 5 percent…

Le donne, pur presenti nelle varie discipline, di solito non hanno posizioni apicali. Giusto qualche eccezione qua e là…

Murasaki Shikibu, the author of Tale of Genji, with the third-highest index score in Japanese literature, is the lone woman… Marie Curie, who won Nobel Prizes in both chemistry and physics, is the only other woman who has an index score higher than 18…

Conclusioni: le fonti più attendibili indicano uno scarsissimo contributo delle donne…

… In short, inventories in the arts and sciences, based on multiple sources, almost all of them written in the last few decades, producing highly reliable indexes, tell us that women constitute only a little more than 2 percent of all the significant figures, fewer than 5 percent of the significant figures in the first half of 20C, and that even the top-ranked women are, with the rarest exceptions, well back in the pack of the distributions in their fields…

***

Le fonti possono essere combinate come si vuole senza che la conclusione cambi.

Facciamo l’esempio di una fonte considerata…

… The Dictionary of Scientific Biography as a Benchmark in the Sciences…

Definizione di figura significativa…

… The definition of significant figures is based on consensus…

Stando solo a questa fonte le conclusioni sarebbero state ancor più radicali…

… Relying exclusively on the DoSB would have led to the conclusion that 0.7 percent of all the significant figures in mathematics and the hard sciences were women, instead of the 1.9 percent actually designated…

Per non sbagliare si è stati generosi anche sulle definizioni in gioco…

… If the selection rules used to augment the number of women are applied to men as well, the proportion of women will remain effectively unchanged, even drop…

Eppure, se andate in libreria, troverete volumi che parlano a lungo del contributo delle donne alla nostra civiltà. Ma che donne troverete in quei volumi? Ecco un esempio…

…. 1. Some women with significant scientific accomplishments but whose work postdates 1950… 2. Educators who taught science… 3. Pioneers, the first women to get a degree… 4. Translators and popularizers of scientific works… 5. Women, usually amateurs, who collected data that were used by scientists… 6. Activists in women’s rights and social reform whose profession was in medicine… 7. Wives, sisters, and children of famous male scientists… 8. Women with accomplishments ancillary to science though not involving scientific discoveries… 9. Women who were directly engaged in scientific professions and conducted substantial original research…

I dati sono talmente chiari che anche errori cospicui nei conteggi non inficerebbero la conclusione.

Anche i Nobel, l’indicatore spannometrico più diffuso, conferma.

***

Gli ebrei hanno una storia parallela a quella delle donne. Vediamola più nel dettaglio…

… In a practical sense, legal equality for Jews first occurred in the newly formed United States, where Jews were given full rights under federal law, though full protection at the state level had to wait upon the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.7 France and the Netherlands emancipated their Jewish populations in the 1790s. Throughout the first half of 19C, the rest of Western and Central Europe evolved toward more tolerant policies without actually granting full legal equality. In England, Jews faced comparatively few legal restrictions after mid-18C, though it was not until the Promissory Oaths Act of 1871 that the last remnants of discriminatory law were revoked. The revolutions of 1848 saw civil rights granted (though not necessarily enforced) in most of Austro-Hungary and Germany. Bismarck completed the emancipation of Prussian Jews in 1869. Emancipation of Italian Jews began in the Piedmont in 1848 and ended in 1870 in Rome. Switzerland granted emancipation in 1866. In Russia, which in 19C also meant Poland, events moved the other way. The assassination of Alexander II in 1881 intensified long-standing Russian anti-Semitism…

Ma la reazione alla mutata condizione è stata ben diversa…

… What happens? “The suddenness with which Jews began to appear…is nothing short of astounding,” writes historian Raphael Patai. “It seemed as if a huge reservoir of Jewish talent, hitherto dammed up…

Dal 1800 al 1950 l’emersione di figure ebraiche eminenti è stata prorompente, al punto che la razza è sovra-rappresentata nell’inventario delle eccellenze…

… In every case except astronomy, Jews are disproportionately represented. The period 1870–1950…

***

Le cose non cambiano di molto se la medesima indagine viene condotta dopo gli anni cinquanta.

Cosa pensare?

La spiegazione puo’ essere ambientale o biologica.

Probabilmente tra qualche decennio sapremo molto di più sulla genetica. Per ora, che dire?

E’ doveroso segnalare che gli ostacoli ambientali non sono esattamente i medesimi per donne ed ebrei…

… Part of the answer is that the nature of the obstacles facing Jews and women differed. Winning the legal battle could not have nearly the liberating effect for women that it had for Jewish males…

I diritti formali sono bastati ai secondi ma non alle prime. La donna ha almeno tre ostacoli ulteriori…

… A woman trying to take advantage of her newly won legal rights by entering a profession had to be prepared to make three new sacrifices…

Una donna in certi ambienti è una bizzarria che potrebbe sentirsi a disagio…

… First, she had to accept being an oddball, which, depending on her situation, could mean being the object of curiosity, ridicule, scorn,…

Meno tempo per il matrimonio

… Second, she had to confront the reality that to pursue a career would automatically reduce the likelihood of marriage…

Meno tempo per i figli

… Third, even if she found herself in a good marriage, she had to confront another reality: Pursuing a career at full throttle, as first-rank accomplishment demands, is at odds with being a full-time mother…

Si tratta di ostacoli che permangono indipendentemente dai diritti…

… Employers continued to prefer men over women, pay them more, and promote them higher… Husbands continued to discourage wives from pursuing careers that would compete with their own…

Il conflitto tra carriera e maternità è forte oggi come ieri…

… anecdotal evidence indicates they were not much less prevalent in 1950 than they had been earlier. The conflict between career and motherhood had not even lessened… The central importance of motherhood means that many women do not want to jeopardize the opportunity to become a mother…

Si diventa “grandi” e si producono “eccellenze” proprio negli anni in cui si diventa madri…

… The years crucial to realizing great achievements have been precisely those years during which women are sexually most attractive, best able to find mates, and best able to bear children…

Essere mamma ed essere papà è ben diverso…

… Rather, it is argued, the emotional distractions of parenthood are far greater for most mothers than for most fathers…

La divisione materiale dei compiti incide poco ai nostri fini…

… However equally the physical burdens of child care are divided, the woman is likely to spend much more of the rest of her time thinking about the child’s needs than the man does…

Qui, infatti, non si parla semplicemente di “lavoro”, si parla di eccellenze, ovvero non di semplici lavoratori ma di gente maniaca, perfezionista, impegnata anima e corpo in quel che fa come in una missione…

… we are not talking merely about motherhood versus career or about juggling jobs and children. When we discuss accomplishments at the level of the people in the inventories, we are commonly talking about perfectionist, monomaniacal…

E che dire della biologia?…

… The most ambitious and controversial explanation for the disparity between accomplishment among men and women is based on biological differences…

L’evidenza empirica ci dice che, di fatto, l’ eccellenza è dominio del maschio in ogni società studiata…

… empirical observation at the core of this view is that in human societies around the world, men have without exception routinely held the top positions…

Qualcuno ritiene che questa sia una caratteristica universale

… In 1970, sociologist Steven Goldberg published The Inevitability of Patriarchy, in which he asserted that these characteristics were universal… In 1993, Goldberg published a new statement of his theory entitled Why Men Rule…

In casi del genere il culturalismo propone spiegazioni complicate, la biologia spiegazioni semplici…

… Using social construction to explain why human societies have been universally constructed according to these sex differences in role and attainment requires complicated arguments. Using biology to explain them requires simple ones…

L’aggressività e la competitività  per giungere al vertice giocano un loro ruolo…

… Many of these differences are argued to cluster around male-female differences in aggressiveness, broadly defined…

Anche a parità di media statistica nelle varie performace che a noi interessano, gli uomini tendono ad occupare gli estremi

… It is men who go to the extremes, compete ruthlessly, and, in whatever field they take up, are going to achieve the best and the worst… Although the mean IQ of men and women is apparently the same, the variability of male IQ is higher…

Un piccolo quadro delle differenze tra i generi…

… Women tend to do better, for example, in a variety of verbal skills; men in a variety of mathematical and visual-spatial skills. The latter may explain a conundrum: Brain size is reliably correlated with IQ; men and women have different mean brain sizes; but men and women have similar overall IQ.24 Some large portion of those extra brain cells in men may be devoted to three-dimensional processing, the largest and most consistently identified male cognitive advantage… the male advantage corresponds to degree of abstraction involved in an art…

Ma perché queste differenze? Le spiegazioni evoluzioniste sembrano le più semplici.

Ecco uno stereotipo molto significativo…

… to put it in terms of stereotypes that seem to have merit: Wives remember where the car keys are; guys read maps better than girls do…

Pensiamo solo alla divisione dei compiti tra uomo e donna nelle popolazioni primitive…

… Men did the hunting (fostered by other physical advantages of males) while women did the gathering. Their mental repertoires diverged corresponding to the skills that evolutionary pressure rewarded…

L’uomo in giro per la foresta doveva sapersi orientare, per farlo al meglio sviluppa abilità legate all’astrazione. Si tratta naturalmente di abilità centrali nelle scienze come in altre discipline…

… Within the sciences, the ordering from more to less abstract is not so clear cut—some tasks in astronomy, for example, are pure observation, cataloging, and description, while others call on the highest reaches of mathematical abstraction. But in scanning the roster of female significant figures in the sciences, the overwhelming majority made their reputations on achievements that were concrete rather than abstract…

Poiché nelle varie scienze occorrono abilità leggermente diverse tra loro, possiamo verificare come ambiti diversi della scienza siano – guarda caso – in correlazione con la presenza femminile: laddove il ragionamento astratto pesa meno, la pur scarsa presenza femminile si intensifica. In casi del genere difficile pensare all’ambiente.

La spiegazione biologica sembra avere meriti da cui non si puo’ prescindere…

… existing circumstantial evidence is already strong enough to have persuaded me that disparities in accomplishment between the sexes are significantly grounded in biological differences…

Ma forse conviene portare pazienza

… I close the discussion of sex differences with the point that I made at the outset: All we need is a few decades’ patience and we won’t have to argue anymore…

***

Ebrei. Cosa spiega la performance spettacolare degli Ashkenaziti

… What explains the extraordinary level of accomplishment among the Ashkenazi Jews who came out of Central and Eastern Europe?…

Hanno sempre avuto la fissa dell’istruzione (forse perché si tratta di un capitale facilmente trasportabile). La tipica famiglia ebraica polacca nel 1918…

… Almost every one of their families hires a tutor to teach its children… their entire population studies. Girls too can read, even the girls of the poorest families…

L’ IQ

… Reports of the mean IQ of Ashkenazi Jews vary, but it is likely to be at least 107 on tests that are normed to have a mean of 100… The data for Oriental Jews do not show consistently elevated IQ means… Jews also have much larger proportions of people with extremely high IQs… it is at least plausible that selection pressures have led to a higher Jewish IQ with some genetic basis…

Puo’ darsi che la vita particolarmente dura di questa gente abbia creato una selezione naturale dei migliori…

… One cause of genetic difference could be the Diaspora and subsequent centuries of anti-Semitism, requiring the Jews to survive in alien and often hostile cultures. Those who survived and left behind offspring were statistically likely to be more resourceful…

Ci sono poi altri fattori: la lunga tradizione nell’interpretazione delle scritture. La cosa puo’ aver sviluppato facoltà speculative sopra la media.

Si aggiunga che il rabbino è un buon partito

… The young rabbi was one of the most desirable marriage partners for young women, and also, given the intellectual demands of Talmudic study, probably had a high IQ…

Anche la struttura famigliare era particolarmente adatta e offriva alla prole un ambiente al contempo sicuro e stimolante…

… Jewish family units were strong through 1950, with few children growing up in broken homes and with close networks of grandparents, aunts, and uncles… The high expectations placed on Jewish children are the stuff of cultural cliché…

genio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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