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Women make great leaders – now they just need to start believing it

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger
The fact that women are vastly under-represented in high-level leadership positions is well known, but the exact reason for it is still the subject of much debate.

Research has long shown that men are more self-assured in general, and often overestimate their abilities and potential, while women are far more prone to underestimate and second-guess themselves.

Research by WSU psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger and Cornell psychologist David Dunning also shows that women tend to rate themselves more negatively.

In the study, male and female college students were given a quiz on scientific reasoning, after which they were asked to assess how many questions they thought they had gotten right. On average, the male students thought they had gotten 7.1 answers right, while the female students thought they had answered only 5.8 correctly.

In reality, though, the average for male and female students was almost exactly the same – 7.5 correct answers for the female students and 7.9 for the male students.

This negative self-perception can prevent women from taking on new challenges or opportunities.

Find out more about the gender gap in leadership assessment

Mormons discuss Book of Abraham translation

Armand Mauss
Armand Mauss

A nearly 3,000-word article posted recently on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) says the Book of Abraham is inspired scripture and probably not a literal translation from ancient Egyptian scrolls by Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

The essay marks a departure from past explanations by LDS officials and embraces the widely-held view from religious scholars and historians that Smith’s work isn’t a direct translation, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at WSU.

“It is an official recognition — even a concession — that Joseph Smith could not, and did not, ‘translate’ any scriptures in the literal, scholarly sense that is usually implied by the term ‘translate,'” Mauss said.

The article recognizes that it’s impossible to know how exactly Smith used the papyri to write the Book of Abraham. There were no eyewitnesses to the translation process, and only fragments of the scrolls exist today, the article says. It notes that Smith never claimed to know the language it was in.

Read more about the church’s essay

Research: Women more sensitive to, affected by marijuana

Rebecca Craft
Rebecca Craft

After decades of researching gender differences in the effects of drugs, Rebecca Craft, professor and chair of psychology, has found that females using marijuana are likelier than men to become dependent on the drug and suffer more severe withdrawals.

At the same time, females seem to be more sensitive to the drug’s pain-relieving qualities.

Craft studies the effects of psychoactive drugs on rats and reported these findings most recently in journals such as Life Sciences and Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Her work, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, focuses on the medical side of cannabinoids, the class of drugs found in marijuana.

Read more about this research in Washington State Magazine online

Woman seeks to open transitional home for rehabilitating ex-inmates

Zachary Hamilton
Zachary Hamilton

Dorothy Owsley spent years visiting jails and prisons to help inmates figure out their plans for re-entry into the community, and she frequently heard the same story.

“I heard a lot of ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t have anywhere to go. Where I lived before got me in trouble in the first place,’ ” said Owsley, 62.

That’s why Owsley said transitional homes play an important role in breaking a cycle that can end with those inmates back behind bars. She’s planning to turn a brick house in Roanoke, Va., into a transitional home for about eight area women released from jail or prison.

Zachary Hamilton, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology and an expert in offender re-entry and rehabilitation, said research is mixed regarding the effectiveness of transitional facilities. He said that places focusing on a specific goal, such as addiction recovery or employment, tend to show more positive results. His own research has shown that a structured environment coupled with parole conditions results in fewer parole violations.

More about the planned home and Hamilton’s research

Ancient baby boom offers lessons in over-population

Timothy Kohler
Timothy Kohler

WSU scientists have sketched out one of the greatest baby booms in North American history, a centuries-long “growth blip” among southwestern Native Americans between 500 and 1300 A.D.

It was a time when the early features of civilization—including farming and food storage—had matured to a level where birth rates likely “exceeded the highest in the world today,” the researchers report in this week’s issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Then a crash followed, offering a warning sign to the modern world about the dangers of overpopulation, says Tim Kohler, professor of anthropology.

“We can learn lessons from these people,” says Kohler, who co-authored the paper with WSU researcher Kelsey Reese.

Read more about this timely research