Women and Islamic science off topic:
I have perused an interesting perspective.  (Rana Dajani How Women Scientists Fare in the Arab World NATURE vol. 491 no. 7422 November 1, 2012 page 9)  It seems to me that in much of the world western thinking is ascendant.  China confronts the west, peacefully so far, and also cooperates.  She flourishes using tools developed in the West.  India is loath to abandon her traditions but is right up there with modern technology.  Much of the world elsewhere flourishes economically (but of course not demographically) after having taken much from the west.  Yet this article cautions against the trap of transferring solutions from one culture to another.

A case in point is Africa.  It has long seemed to me that Africa would be far better off divided along lines of tribal identity than along lines of historical colonial convenience.  That’s where there loyalties lie.  That’s where they should put their energies. 

Much of the Arab world seems to be unhappy with western influence.  From a western perspective they would be better to establish a pan Arab state.  I’m sure there are those among them who would like to see that happen.  Yet traditional loyalties prevail.

A second point in the article has to do with age.  In the west there is a cult of youth.  Particularly in the sciences we expect to see great advances made by those who are young.  The author says that in the west if a scientist is not a success by age 40 he (and it’s usually a he) is considered a failure.  This attitude is such that when it is noticed that our most productive scientists seem to be rather old it is regarded as a calamity.  They need to step aside so as to let those with less experience have an earlier chance.  And among women, as she points out, taking time out of a career to have a family means that older women are more likely to be available for scientific careers; this point is lost on UN people who try to help.  I, too, find that the willingness to ignore those who have had more years to reflect is lamentable.  There is I, for instance.

Another point she makes is that women tend to be excluded from the social scenes where scientists get together and talk about what is going on and where this will go next.  I sort of feel that myself.

None the less, it appears that at least in Jordan, women are well represented among students of science, engineering and medicine and outnumber men in natural science, pharmacology, agriculture while being about equal in mathematics and computer science.  They are also regarded as being more dependable and hard working than men.  (And don’t tell anybody but if it ever comes down to cyber warfare the money is on their tireless women over our sociopathic boys.)

I found it quite touching that this is not a new thing.  She says there were 8,000 women scholars in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages.

No wonder Arab script looks so good.  Everybody knows women have better handwriting. 

When proposing a radical change it is often politic to present the new idea as a restoration of the good old days.  In this case I am most sympathetic.

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