Don't believe everything you think
When I was in college, I had the following conversation with a good friend of mine, who wanted to lose weight:
Her: I decided not to drink milk, because it's like 100 calories a glass.
Me: Milk is a really good way to get calcium, though. How are you getting that instead?
Her: Well, I'd eat yogurt, but the only way I like it is with jam mixed in, and that removes all the nutrients.
Me: I... what? *laughing* Are you serious?
Her: When I was little, my dance teacher told me that adding sugar or jam to yogurt takes out all the nutrients!
Me: But that's absurd! How can the nutrients that are already there be taken out by sugar? You're just adding calories, not taking away nutrients.
Her: I guess I never really thought about it!
Let's take a look at what's going on here. Most likely, what she was told as a child was that adding jam to yogurt makes it less clearly "good for you", but maybe her dance teacher even did go so far as to say that adding something sugary somehow negates the nutrients that are already present. At any rate, the message that my friend got was the latter, and as many of us do when we don't know much about a topic, she filed it away as a piece of information that influences the choices she makes in the world.
Now, this is an intelligent woman who's more than capable of critical thought. So what gives? We all have working assumptions that we don't examine on a regular basis. We may get lucky and share them with someone who can help us question them, or we may share them with someone who doesn't, and who will take your assumption and propagate it.
This happens a lot with understandings of gender similarities and differences. One of our primary goals here at FairerScience.org is to inspire ourselves and you all to think more critically about what we believe about gender.
What do you think?