Courtesy dbwilldo Right off the bat, let me say that this study was conducted by a female. And she asks a very interesting, and maybe stereotypical, question. Please read this full post before you jump to any conclusions. Or jump on me for posting this.
Do girls really "throw like girls?"
It's standard trash talk one male can hurl at another male who doesn't exhibit the form and proficiency of throwing that's usually expected. But professor Janet Hyde at the University of Wisconsin has data to back up the fact that men throw significantly farther and harder than women.
She actually has studied a variety of gender differences in her research. And the differences in throwing are one of the only categories where those gender differences are off the charts. You can read a full story about it right here.
To summarize, girls under teenage throw 51 to 69 percent the distance of their male peers. The differences grow as people get older. Teenage girls, on average, throw only 39 percent as far as teenage boys – throwing a ball for distance about 75 feet compared to 192 feet by males.
There is acknowledgement of the fact that boys in general get more practice in throwing based on the activities that they typically do compared to girls. But are there other factors.
Click the link to see some interesting theories about how evolution may have a role in this, leading to physiological differences between the muscles and movement patterns of males and females. Interestingly, the gap exists, but is narrower, between males and females in less advanced cultures.
Should we even be talking about this? Some think pointing out these differences might make girls give up hope on trying to improve their throwing. Others think data like this helps identify the difference and give girls, teachers and coaches information on how to improve. What do you think?
Of course, all these numbers still can't explain why Pee Wee Herman continues to throw like a girl.
I was recently blissing out at a toy store that sells an impressive selection of science toys and kits (side note: I am going to be the world's coolest aunt when my little nephew gets a little older--I have my eye on a kit that lets you raise live praying mantises from mail-order eggs. I'm sure my sister and brother-in-law will love it!), when I saw a series of toy kits for making little motorized vehicles out of gears and wires and stuff. You know the type. What was interesting about these toys is that they weren't just cars and trucks, but things like chariots pulled by unicorns, with a princess doll in the kit, or a horse that would flap its motorized wings. Yep, these were...robots for girls.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
A quick internet search for "robots for girls" offers a couple different examples of electronic toys marketed at girls, like Fijit Friends and Penbo. It's pretty clear that these are intended for girls: they're fuzzy, they're pink and purple, they have wide, adorable eyes, and in Penbo's case the toy is actually a mama with a cute fluffy baby penguin inside its tummy.
So what's to be made of the whole "robots for girls" thing? My reaction there in the toy store aisle was basically, "Aw, sweet, a robot unicorn with gears inside and stuff!" Kids are pretty sensitive to the kinds of toys that they're supposed to like, especially along gender lines (and there's some research indicating that gendered toy preference might be biological in origin). A techy version of an acceptably feminine toy, like a flying horse, gives girls the same casual access to technology that toys like Capsela have given boys.
On the other hand, I can't quite turn off the piece of my brain that's irritated by the implication that girls' soft little brains can't handle "real" tech toys, and that robots have to be covered in pink fur and cutesy eyes for girls to use them. Still, I guess that even fuzzy pastel tech for girls is better than no tech for girls, and my ultimate verdict is to give robots for girls the thumbs-up. What say you, oh Science Buzz community?
Postscript: This program, called Cricket Craft Clubs, is aimed at girls ages nine to twelve and came out of the observation that students in an MIT robotics competition, mostly men, and an analogous robotic design class at the all-female Wellesley College, approached robotics differently but in equally sophisticated ways. What I most like about this idea is that there's nothing particularly gendered about the raw parts, so girls (and boys) using them aren't automatically steered toward any particular end product. (The Cricket parts are available as a kit here. I'm pretty sure my little nephew is going to need one of these someday. And when I say "my little nephew" here, I actually mean, um...me.)
Courtesy National Institutes of HealthRecord numbers of women are opting for a test that checks if their genetic make-up makes them stronger candidates for breast cancer. Last year about 100,000 women were tested. Doctors generally recommend against testing anyone under the age of 25, the same age that mammograms are first recommended. That’s because little can be done to screen or prevent breast cancer before that age.
But a growing movement among young women wants to find out how their genetic make-up could impact their risk for breast cancer. And they want to find out that news at an earlier age.
It’s a hot ethical question in clinics across the country today, which is explained in full detail here.
On the one side, pro-testing people point out that young people armed with this information could make lifestyle choices that could reduce their cancer risk. There is some evidence that young women with a positive genetic test have quit smoking, for example. Others have limited alcohol intake or avoided using birth control pills, two other factors that can raise breast cancer risk.
On the other side of the debate, researchers say that young women have enough health issues to deal with at an early age. Ringing alarms for something they can’t be “officially” tested for until later in life is just one more worry that they really don’t need to deal with at the time.
The tests themselves cost around $3,000. More and more medical insurance companies are providing coverage for the test.
If the test shows a faulty gene, the patient’s risk of developing breast cancer is three to seven times higher. In a few cases, parents have tested the genes of their pre-adolescent children. One girl test was just four years old.
What do you think? Is this good genetic curiosity or being a genetic busy-body? Is it important to find out this information if nothing can be done to treat the situation for a number of years? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.
OK, stop your snickering. A report from England indicates that a high-calorie, high-potassium diet prior to conception increases the likelihood of a woman giving birth to a boy. Low-calorie diets lead to more girls.
For the first time in its nine-year history, the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for US high schoolers awarded both of its grand prizes to girls.
So far, Disney has created 8 princesses (although "princess" is a loose term):
Ariel's the current fave at my house, with Jasmine running a close second. (I just have to grit my teeth and get through this princess phase!)
Do you think it's important for princess-loving little girls to have heroines that look like them?
Gov. Rick Perry ordered Friday that schoolgirls in Texas must be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, making Texas the first state to require the shots. Breitbart.com