Pravda and the BBC among those picking up females-and-fertility story

The story about York PhD student Maryanne Fisher‘s research into competitive fertile women continued to make news around the world late last week. Among the news Web sites carrying the story were those of the BBC, Russia’s Pravda, The Guardian (London), Ciencia Hoje Online (Brazil), the Hindustan Times (India), SPIN Radio Dublin (Ireland), Beat Talk 102-103 (Waterford, Ireland), the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Dr (a major US health site), CTV News, and many more. In her study, published in the Royal Society’s online journal Biology Letters, Fisher, a doctoral candidate in psychology at York, found that ovulating women will put down other women’s facial attractiveness as a way of competing for men. The international stories typically picked up a wire-service line that read: “Researchers at York University in Toronto, Canada, say women are prone to be at their cattiest when they are at their most fertile.”

Why Canadians are healthier than Americans

 “The reason that Canadians are healthier than Americans is that, traditionally, there has been much more attention paid by Canadian governments to the basic determinants of health – adequate income, food and housing, and what we call the social safety net,” Dennis Raphael, a professor at York’s Atkinson School of Health & Policy Management, told columnist Judy Gerstel in a Toronto Star story Feb. 20. Raphael referred to a 2000 report in the British Medical Journal showing that those states in the US that have some of the best profiles, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Washington have public policies that are very similar to Canadian practices. “These same states are also much more equal in income distribution than most US states and look very much like Canadian provinces,” he said. 

Martin must act to protect EI parental leave benefits

Paul Martin should not let the sponsorship scandal divert him from the crucial job of protecting maternity and parental benefits within Employment Insurance, wrote Barbara Cameron, social science professor in York University’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, in the Globe and Mail, Feb. 20. Last month, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled this program unconstitutional. The federal government has until Feb. 26 to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court. Time is running out, she warned. The parental-leave issue was badly mishandled by the Chrétien government and never should have ended up in the Quebec court in the first place. Since it has, the current prime minister must respond to a decision that challenges the legality and the legitimacy of Ottawa’s role in maternity and parental leave – and in social programs generally. The Quebec ruling has wide-ranging implications for EI and social programs and must be appealed, insisted Cameron.

On air

  • Math education Professor Margaret Sinclair, of the York/Seneca Institute for Math, Science & Technology Education, discussed the success of the JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) program, a volunteer-based tutoring program founded in 1998 by mathematician and writer John Mighton, who was profiled on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” in Toronto Feb. 19.