September 21, 2005
Update: The Sky is Falling: Elite Women Want Motherhood?
Alert reader, Carl at Gelf Magazine has outstanding reporting and an astute observation.
I saw your post about yesterday’s NYT article …And noticed your comment about the methodology:
“The article is heavy on anecdote and fails to ever explain its methodology — the source of its “data” is email responses from some young women at the Ivy’s. So, even though I think the conclusion is interesting and one that I agree with, in all honesty the researcher in me has to point out to you that this is not terribly reliable reporting.”
It seems you had reason to be suspicious. Over at Gelf, to which I contribute, we’ve run a copy of the survey the NYT reporter emailed to Yale students, as sent to us by one of the recipients. The survey seems to have leading questions, basically implying that all Yale women must be straight and want kids: story here David Goldenberg byline .
Well done. Carl nails it down:
Among the leading questions, many from right at the top of the survey:
When you have children, do you plan to stay at home with them or do you plan to continue working? Why?
If you plan to continue working, do you plan to work full-time in an office, or full-time from your house, or part-time in an office, or part-time from your house? Why?
If you plan to stay at home with your kids, do you plan to return to work? If so, how old will you wait for your kids to be when you return?
Was your mom a stay-at-home mom? Explain whether she worked, and how much she worked! Were you glad with her choice (to either work or stay-at-home or whatever combination she did)?
How do you think college-age men at Yale feel about whether wives should stay at home with their kids?/
In polling we call this “priming the pump.” It is used to direct answers with subtle questions with subtle assumptions. Good polls are designed to uncover the truth (of opinion) across a broad sample. Bad polls have an agenda. This is, as Carl suggests, a bad survey.
I will have more in coming posts on The NYT’s political and cultural agenda.
No matter what our differences in the blogosphere, the work by Gelf Magazine shows us why the NYT chopped 500 jobs and is bleeding red ink. The NYT has lost the public trust — because of such questionable reporting.