Saturday, February 17, 2007

Politically incorrect statistics

Some of my best friends are same sex

My statistics class met on Valentine's Day. I decided to be topical, handing out a hypothesis-test worksheet containing the following set-up:
Let Population 1 be women who received roses from their spouses on Valentine’s Day, while Population 2 comprises women who did not. On a scale that measures satisfaction with one’s spouse, Population 2 has a mean of 84 with a standard deviation of 6.4. You are studying whether women who received roses from their husbands on Valentine’s Day rank higher in spousal satisfaction than those who did not. You think Population 1 will have a higher mean, but with the same standard deviation.
One of my students reacted to the word “husbands”:

“Oh, oh! Dr. Z, you left out same-sex couples when you said ‘husbands’ instead of ‘spouses.’ That's not very inclusive!”

Another chimed in. She said, “Yes, I do feel left out now!”

I paused for a beat, then replied, “I did think of that, naturally.” (I did, honestly!) “However, I did not feel that it was my place to assume that same-sex couples would necessarily wish to be conformed to the traditional male-female flower-giving roles of Valentine's Day.”

My lesbian student favored me with an indulgent smile and said, “That was a really good save!”

And then we carried on with the hypothesis test. By the way, it turned out that women in traditional couples do prefer to receive flowers. Of course, I deliberately wrote the problem that way, based on strong observational evidence deduced from the manifest preferences of my mother, sister, and sister-in-law. And my student? She was also happy to have gotten a Valentine Day's remembrance.

Goodies for everyone, I say.

1 comment:

King Aardvark said...

It sure was a good save. But did the lesbian woman tell you how/if she and her partner address the "giving roses" question?

Personally, I'm too cheap to buy roses for my wife. I'd imagine I'm on the low end of the satisfaction scale ;-)