East Carolina University
Department of Psychology

McCammon, S., Golden, J., & Wuensch, K. L. (1988). Predicting course performance in freshman and sophomore physics courses: Women are more predictable than men. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 25, 501-510.


    I really did not want to explore sex differences with these data.  I had already looked at means and standard deviations by sex, and the differences were basically nil.  Susan McCammon, however, insisted that I do so, so I ran the regressions separately by sex, only to find the most remarkable result of this research, that each of our predictors was well related to performance in the course among women, but none was among men.

    The first journal to which we submitted a manuscript based on this research refused to publish it unless we removed all results and discussion pertaining to sex differences.  The editor objected to reporting results that were not anticipated and not hypothesized to occur.  This attitude serves like the blinders that race horses wear, narrowly focusing their vision.  The drawback, of course, is that the horse may miss important things outside the narrowly focused field of vision -- such as, in the wild, the wildcat that is stalking it.  Likewise, the researcher with "hypothesis blindness" may miss important things outside of the a priori hypotheses.  The history of science includes many discoveries that were serendipitous, such as Fleming's discovery of penicillin.  I commented to my colleagues that were this editor to arrive home and there be an unexpected pile of gold bullion on the front porch, he would just walk around it and go about his business as if it were not there.

    Not wanting to ignore our most interesting result, we submitted the manuscript to a second journal.  One of the reviewers insisted that we remove all presentation and discussion of sex differences because revealing sex differences was "sexist."  This reviewer insisted that even asking questions about differences between the sexes not proper.  We were able to convince the editor otherwise.


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