Soccer mom story falls apart
This is not a good day for the New York Times. The Louise Story article that offered a fake trend story about Ivy League students choosing staying home over their career continues to fall apart.
First, Gelf magazine revealed how the article's data relied entirely on a skewed sample:
She arrives at a conclusion about Ã¢â‚¬Å“women at the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most elite collegesÃ¢â‚¬Â based on spot interviews with students from a few Ivy League schools and then a survey with students at one school: her own. Last school year, Story sent out a 37-question survey to a group of freshman and senior women at Yale University, her (and my) alma mater. While it is indeed possible that 60% of those who replied said Ã¢â‚¬Å“they planned to cut back on work or stop working entirelyÃ¢â‚¬Â when they had kids, as Story writes, it's doubtful that those who replied are representative of all Ivy League women.
Those who did not reply probably included some who were too busy or uninterested to spend the time to fill out the lengthy questionnaire. It definitely included people like Emily Holleman, a current sophomore who says she declined to fill out the survey because she thought it was flawed. "I felt that it was very badly phrased and strongly suggested that ALL women at Yale planned to a) get married and b) have kids. It also assumed that all women at Yale were straight," she told Gelf in an email. "It was relatively clear to me and several of my friends that she was either unable to construct a suitable survey or had already decided what answers she wanted to receive and constructed her survey based on what questions would induce these responses."Now it turns out that even those whose views did make it into Story's --well, story -- are less than happy with the way she represented their views. Here's a written response from one of the main sources of the story to a query from MediaBistro:
I appreciate all the fighting and work that other women and people have led before us to get us to the situation of women's rights today, and I believe that if I am ever dissatisfied with the situation I am in, I will fight against it. It saddens me that I am portrayed as an insensitive and unambitious person in the article, and really did not know that Louise was only going to quote those of us who wanted to stay at home if/when we had kids. She in fact did interview my other suitemates who answered the survey as either not wanting to have children at all, or would continue working as a mother. I am somewhat shocked that she did not include ANY of their ideas or views in the article.
I don't deny that I want to stop working if/when I became a mother, but I definitely don't believe that this is the right choice for every female out there! I believe that my education here at Yale is precious and I would still like to pursue my career goals, and I believe that I have every right to experience working in the fields I want to as any man would. Because of my own life experiences, I simply hold the personal attitude that I would be willing to stop my career for children if/when I have them. I hoped that my views would show how women have the equal right to decide what they want to do with their life no matter what others believed. [LINK thanks to E. J. Graff]Guess that didn't fit the "thesis" that Story wanted to prove irrespective of the facts. Why that's almost a "trend" when it comes to women reporters at the Times.