Cloning has been a hot issue in the news media in recent years. Many feel that it is a good idea and that there could be many benefits to mankind. However, there are those who feel that the issue is beyond our human capabilities and that we are playing with fire. There have been many surveys conducted on public opinion concerning the issue. Some of the studies have been formal, conducted by the research community, and others are informal, conducted by parties such as the news media. Many of these studies failed to separate answers according to gender, age and other demographic issues. Not knowing the demographics of the sample population and taking into account the number of members in each demographic group could essentially add sample bias to the answers.
It is a commonly accepted idea in the academic community that there are significant differences in opinions expressed by males as opposed to females. This is known as gender bias. Research must take into account gender bias in its design. This research will focus on the issue of cloning and attempt to determine if gender bias, particularly a difference in acceptance of the practice, does indeed occur in relationship to the topic.
The information obtained in this research will help to understand and perhaps-shed new light on general opinion polls conducted on the subject. It may also cause us to reexamine polls already conducted to determine if the results can be applied to the general population or if a certain degree of gender bias does exist. If gender bias is found to exist on the subject, then future study designs and opinion polls will have to take this into account. The results are expected to show that a certain degree of gender bias does exist in the acceptance of cloning.
The Cloning Issue: His View, Her View
Gender bias refers to the differences in opinion that are a result of gender. It is generally accepted that women and men think differently and that some of these differences have their root in biology, others have their basis in environment and social upbringing. However, regardless of the source of the differences, their existence is not in question. Science is generally accepted to be a "male" oriented subject. That is not to say that there are many notable and accomplished women scientists. However, as a generalization, science is usually considered to be a traditionally male subject area.
Cloning has been a hot topic in the news media recently. Supporters hail it as one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century. They hail the advances and speculate about the medical miracles that could come from cloning, stem cell research, genetically modified foods and all of the other topics associated with this new technology. However, there are those who cast a more skeptical eye on the cloning issue. They feel that we simply do not know enough about it to attempt to re-create life. They compare cloning to a child playing with matches. This research will explore the issues of gender differences and their effect on one's opinions regarding the acceptance or rejection of the practice of cloning.
Statement of Problem
It is not the intention of this research to decide which side of the issue is right or wrong. However, there have been hundreds of studies published on the topic of the ethics of cloning and the research itself will be the focus of the proposed study. There have been many generalizations made in the popular media and in academic journals as well that simply state something such as, "A recent poll found that 85% of the population states that they are not in favor of cloning." However, one must view this very statement with skepticism, as it does not account for demographic differences in the sample population. It may very well be the situation that 85% of the sample population comprised of a certain demographic group and that the result simply reflects a high percentage of that group.
The purpose of this study is to make certain that good data and research techniques dominate generalizations stated by the media and those responsible for public policy. To design a public opinion poll that does not attempt to identify all of the possible biases that could have an effect on the results is simply poor science. This study comes from a responsibility to determine if public opinion polls, which are readily accepted and reported by the mass media, contain gender biases that could effect the results. This is especially important as policy makers are often effected by public opinion and take this into consideration. Media must be certain that the information they give is accurate, as it will ultimately have an effect on the general public and its feelings and ultimately on the policies that arise concerning cloning.
Many issues in our society are gender related. This is an unavoidable fact. For instance, men cannot get pregnant, no matter how hard they try, it is impossible. Therefore how can they be involved in decisions regarding abortion, invitro fertilization, and other reproductive issues? Yet men claim to have a stake in it as it involves the transfer of their genetic material and the creation of a life that is part of them as well. This is key issue surrounding the debate that is the heart of the gender issue involved in this category of research.
The basic argument is that reproduction is generally the realm of the female of the human species. Until recently, it was a given fact, that she could not do it alone and that a contribution from the male of the species was necessary for procreation. Although, in general the female is the one who carries the child, and is typically responsible for the nurturing of the child once it is born. Females are generally responsible for the reproduction of the human species.
Cloning is a reproductive issue and it would be reasonable that differences in the acceptance or rejection of the practice would exist between the genders. These issues must be taken into account in the design of any valid opinion study relating to the issue. This is the primary focus of the proposed research study. The results of the study are expected to reveal a statistically significant difference in the opinions of males and females regarding the cloning issue.
Hypothesis and Variables
This research will highlight an overlooked confounding variable in much publicly cited opinion polls on cloning. The purpose of this research is not to conclusively examine public opinion, as it does not account for other confounding variables, which need similar study to determine their possible effects on public opinion. The purpose of this research will be to determine if gender bias exists in opinions regarding cloning issues. It will examine several aspects of the cloning issue and be divided into four distinct sections. The focus of the research will be on the existence or non-existence of gender bias on opinions concerning the cloning issue.
The independent variable will be opinions expressed regarding the cloning issue. In this research design the dependent variable will be whether the subject taking the survey is male or female. Both dependent variable groups will be matched according to certain other demographic factors, as these may effect the results. The other variables for which subjects are to be matched are expected to effect the results as well. Therefore they must be statistically eliminated as a potential source of sample bias. Demographic matching will help to eliminate as many other confounding demographic factors as possible. This will help to isolate the dependent variables as much as possible. Both demographic groups (males and females) will be administered the same research instrument in the form of a survey.
The survey will be divided into categories, based on a preliminary literature review. A previous study found a difference of opinion on cloning dependent upon whether the object of the cloning was an animal (livestock) or a human. The previous study did not account for gender differences. This research will use the same criteria for evaluation. The survey will be divided into four sections, animal cloning for human use, genetically modified plant foods, human cloning for the treatment of human disease, and human cloning for non-health related reasons.
The research will support the following four hypotheses:
H1: A statistically significant difference will be found between males and females regarding their acceptance or rejection of practices animal cloning for human use.
H10: The null hypothesis will state that no statistically significant difference will be found between males and females regarding their acceptance or rejection of practices involving animal cloning for human use.
H2: A statistically significant difference will be found between males and females regarding their acceptance or rejection of practices involving genetically modified foods.
H20: The null hypothesis will state that no statistically significant difference will be found between males and females regarding their acceptance or rejection of practices involving genetically modified…