In response to The Conservative Woman: Sex and the museum,
Suppose you were a hunter in Victorian times who was paid to obtain specimens for a museum and you came across a herd of antelopes. Would you just pick one at random and shoot it or would you target the biggest, most impressive one in the group? If you made the latter choice the unfortunate animal would probably be male because among mammals adult males are usually bigger than adult females. Furthermore males are more likely to have large antlers or horns.
Some wild animals are difficult to get close to. Therefore a hunter would stand a better chance of hitting the biggest in the group than he would if he chose an equally distant and slightly smaller animal and therefore, once again, the target would be more likely to be male.
Yet another reason why a hunter might preferentially target male mammals is that herds might include very young animals which were still dependent on their mothers for their survival. Males are more expendable.
Therefore there are three obvious reasons why museums might have more male specimens of mammals than they do of females. In the case of birds the males tend to have more colourful plumage than the females and that could explain why the male specimens in museums tend to outnumber the female ones.
Did the ‘researchers’ who investigated the sexual imbalance in museums consider any of the above explanations? If not, why not?
Newman Noggs wrote:
Who cares? Are people, ‘researchers,’ actually paid to produce this unedifying piffle?
Yes they are and usually through a funding council that disburses government, taxpayer, funds.