Columbia students with a penchant for outrage, fire your engines! Maria New is an endocrinologist whose work could ensure that your little girl isn't trynna mack on other little girls, and Heino Meyer-Bahlburg, a professor at the Medical Center, is helping her out! The science involved is very complicated, but what the hell, let's get mad and talk about gender roles!
Dr. New has been experimenting with the drug dexamethasone (“dex”) on pregnant women. She administers the drug to women who worry their child may have a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH, the result of which can be—err, ambiguous genitalia. As it turns out, research conducted by Meyer-Bahlburg, a professor of clinical psychology at the Medical Center, has provided the foundation for some of New's experimentation. M-B is a "longtime collaborator" with New, and his work on CAH has shown that women with CAH generally have more “masculine” qualities and prove less interested in traditional female activities.
As HuffPo's Alex Blaze rather angrily pointed out, the wording of Meyer-Bahlburg’s conclusions is laden with presumptions about gender roles. After all, doesn't a drug that can make a little girl with CAH still want to play with Barbies presume that little girls should like dolls and princesses and sugar and spice? Should science really be working to nudge people into "traditional" gender roles? Some might herald such research as progress, but to those who've worked to help others feel comfortable with and confident in their sexuality, it may feel more like a slap in the face.