Readers' reactions

March 3, 2000

Two weeks ago in The THES... Geoffrey Copland argued that the government's new two-year foundation degrees risk being second-class qualifications

Mark Blagrove, Senior lecturer in psychology, University of Wales, Swansea

There are a lot of contentious points in Geoffrey Copland's doom-ridden prophecies on the new foundation degrees, but my view is that employers will welcome these degrees if it can be demonstrated that the key skills therein equip students for employment.

Professor Copland should be contributing to the consultation on the new qualification rather than trying to write it off.

... and Frank Furedi criticised academic theorising on the family for its tendency to confirm the researchers' own prejudices

Alan Rawel, Higher Education and Training Partnership, Director of academic development, Middlesex University

A recent example of arugably one-sided attitudes on the family came from the Darwinists Helena Cronin and Oliver Curry. In The Guardian on February 5 they claimed that women "have their own distinct evolved psychology".

Data from the 37 cultures they cite shows that women do indeed prefer to marry men of higher status, but they omitted to report that data from the 37 cultures also shows that this difference in mate preference decreases with social gender equality as measured by the United Nations Gender Empowerment Measure. This measure assesses differences across societies in women's participation in economic, political and decision-making roles.

Cronin and Curry's claim that "women in all cultures put a high value on the economic prospects of a mate" is contradicted by findings from the data that sex differences in mate preferences erode to the extent that women and men are similarly placed in the social structure.

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