Jude, I find the following statement to be sexist and indeed I take offense to it:
The two areas I know of where men are actually denied don't bother me, because women actually are better suited for those positions. Nursing and teaching will forever be female dominated because women are better at nurturing; they just are.
I don't have any research handy to refute that assertion, but instead, I present you with a logical corollary. That's the equivalent of saying, "science and technology will forever be male dominated professions because men are better at instinctively understanding complex mathematical concepts and spatial relationships." Either you must accept both statements, or reject them both. If you decide that women have an advantage at certain professions as a function of their gender, then you must accept that the reverse exists.
I choose to reject both statements. While it is possible that certain societal expectations and norms have led to a preponderance of women in the nursing and teaching fields, I see no reason why a man can't be just as good at either as a woman. There are male gynecologists, for example, and they are just as qualified as female ones.
Now that said, I find this portion of the original article to be the most intriguing:
They measured, for instance, how often each student responded to questions posed by professors to the classroom as a whole. At the start of the semester, 11 percent of the female students attempted to answer questions posed to the entire class when the professor was male, and 7 percent of the female students attempted to answer questions posed to the entire class when the professor was female. By the end of the semester, the number of female students who attempted to answer questions posed by a male professor had not changed significantly: Only 7 percent of the women tried to answer such questions. But when classes were taught by a woman, the percentage of female students who attempted to answer questions by the semester's end rose to 46.
The researchers also measured how often students approached professors for help after class. Around 12 percent of the female students approached both male and female professors for help at the start of the semester. The number of female students approaching female professors was 14 percent at the end of the semester. But the number of female students asking for help from a male professor dropped to zero.
This is a markedly interesting observation, but the article never explains or even speculates why
this is so. Why should it make such a significant difference whether the class was taught by a man or a woman? Is it due to an inherent, perhaps unconscious bias and preference of male professors toward male students? Or is it rather due to a factor internal
to the group of the female students themselves? Could they have had more difficulties understanding and communicating with a male teacher than they could understanding and communicating with a female one? And if that is the case, does it imply the converse--do male students have more trouble understanding and communicating with a female instructor than they do understanding and communicating with a male one?