Study on coloured women's intelligence scientifically flawed, says professor

25 April 2019 - 09:33 By Naledi Shange
A UCT professor has poked holes in a study by Stellenbosch University students which questions the intelligence of coloured women, calling for their article to be removed.
A UCT professor has poked holes in a study by Stellenbosch University students which questions the intelligence of coloured women, calling for their article to be removed.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

A professor from the University of Cape Town has started an online petition and penned a letter to the Editorial Board of Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, calling for the removal of an article which suggests coloured women have an increased risk for low cognitive function.

The study was done by four Stellenbosch University students, who claimed that they found this to be because of low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle.

In her letter to the board, Prof Barbara Boswell said: “We ask that you retract [the article] because of its racist ideological underpinnings, flawed methodology, and its reproduction of harmful stereotypes of ‘Coloured’ women,” she said.

She said while the article was published as scientific research, it relied on colonial stereotypes of African women and was harmful.

Boswell labelled the students' work as “scientifically flawed”, adding that the title of their article, "Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women", was among several other aspects that inferred that the results were applicable to all coloured South African women.

This, Boswell suggested, was incorrect because the authors had based their research on a small sample size from one geographic area.

After pointing out several other discrepancies in the students’ article, she said their arguments were circuitous and biased.

“Their own data does not support their assertions. There is no new finding here; just a repackaged Verwoerdian paradigm. We thus ask that you retract this article,” she said.

Boswell’s petition, which required 3,000 signatures, had almost reached this mark by Thursday morning, with others questioning how it had been passed by the ethics board.


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