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  • What, Precisely, is “Creativity”?

    Posted by David Foster on August 20th, 2009 (All posts by )

    From this article:

    At the Kansas University School of Journalism, enrollment is currently 70 percent female, according to the school’s dean, Ann Brill.

    “I’m sure there are a couple of reasons for this,” Brill said. “It’s probably a right brain/left brain thing. That sounds sexist, but there’s some truth to it.”

    Men tend to be drawn to more analytical majors such as engineering or business, whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said.

    Ignore, for the moment, the gender stereotyping and the lack of supporting data (are women really that rare in undergraduate business programs? I don’t think so) and concentrate on the implied assertion that journalism is inherently more creative than either business or engineering.

    There are obviously huge differences in creativity among individuals and among specific job assignments within a particular field. But it is ludicrous to assume that the typical journalist, dashing off superficial stories which look a lot like those written by dozens of other journalists covering the very same thing, is doing something more creative than that being done by an engineer designing a new product or a businessperson developing a new organization structure.

    This silly assertion wouldn’t even be worth mentioning were it not emblematic of a larger issue. I frequently see an attempt by writers/journalists/academics to associate “creativity” exclusively with people in certain fields–artists, musicians, advertising people, writers, certain types of professors, interior designers, even hairdressers–while denying it to businesspeople, engineers, manufacturers, and many other kinds of people. (Sometimes software people are allowed through the gate, probably because code looks like writing, and businesspeople may occasionally be grudgingly acknowledged as “creative” if they work in a currently-fashionable industry.)

    Lack of analytical ability doesn’t automatically make a person creative, and creating a polarity between the “analytical” and the “creative” probably tends to discourage many highschool and college-age students from developing their own analytical abilities.

    Also from the linked article:

    “Another reason (why women enroll in journalism school) is probably because the salaries aren’t great,” Brill said. “A lot of men are more concerned with making money.”

    Many women are more interested in a stable position in an attractive market, according to Jesse Trimble of Columbus, a 2009 journalism school graduate and summer editor at the University Daily Kansan.

    “I think one of the reasons is a lot of women get into the j-school is they want go into advertising sales and television,” she said. “I know the market is attractive, they make a good salary, and it’s a pretty basic concept. If you can do that well, you have stability, and that’s attractive to a lot of females, especially because you can’t just be a housewife anymore.”

    In my not-at-all-humble opinion, “not very concerned with making money” and “sales” are not two things that go well together. Most salespeople I know–and I know a lot, male and female–are very, very concerned with making money and are indeed more concerned with money-making than with stability. Maybe advertising sales is different, but I doubt it.

    (Link via Five Feet of Fury)

     

    66 Responses to “What, Precisely, is “Creativity”?”

    1. Helen Says:

      All of which proves that the Dean is not very analytical and a little over-creative with her explanations.

    2. tdaxp Says:

      It is rare I see my academic and blogging interests coincide, so this is a great post.

      David, you are right. The Dean has no idea what she is talking about.

      There have been scientific studies of creativity in painting. And in hard drive design. I can send you a PDF of one of them if you like.

      I had some thoughts on this on my blog earlier. [1,2]

      [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/06/24/doing-artsy-stuff-isnt-creativity.html
      [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/05/21/what-is-creativity.html

    3. David Foster Says:

      See also this somewhat-related post…a ceramics teacher divided the class into two groups, one of which was to be graded on “quality” and the other on “quantity.” The results were interesting.

    4. tdaxp Says:

      Great article. A major part of creativity is failing, accepting failure, and trying again. Those that are afraid of failure rarely get far.

    5. renminbi Says:

      Creativity is what you can pat yourself on the back for if you have produced nothing of tangible value.

      Originality is very much overated and worthless if not the a byproduct of a sound knowledge of ones field. If one knows what one is doing one may come up with “creative” solutions wwhich really are no more than common sense.Others miss it because they simply don’t have much understanding of what they are doing.
      As for those who talk about “creativity”a lot,my suspicion is that these people produce mostly BS.
      “Talkers are no good doers”.

    6. tdaxp Says:

      renmenbi’s comment is typical of the anti-intellectualism of the ignorant.

      A study of creativity with very dollar-and-sense implications is P.G. Audia’s and J.A. Goncalo’s “Past success and creativity over time: A study of inventors in the hard disk drive industry,” which was published in 2007 in the journal, Management Science.

      The article is available through Cornell’s digital commons at http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/articles/27/.

    7. Anonymous Says:

      Most leftist are unable to judge creativity by an objective standard.

      I can take aluminum and steel and make trash of it. I am not creative.
      Any one can take aluminum and steel and make “art” of it. If it sells they are creative, if not then they are like me.
      An engineer can take aluminum and steel and make a hard drive out of it. It too is art when it sells.
      This is why the Governments support for the “arts” is reinforcing failure.

    8. renminbi Says:

      There is nothing as satisfying as using ones mind, but of course wonderful theories are garbage if they have no connection to the real world. So yes,most “intellectuals” are hopelessly incompetent at what they do, and why not? If people buy a crappy computer or car they know about it; if they buy crappy ideas from their professors or the media they are often happy with it.They can think how smart and sophisticated they are.
      “An intellectual is someone who thinks because a rose smells better than a cabbage it will make better soup”. H L Mencken.

    9. tdaxp Says:

      Anonymous,

      In business, creativity often involves a combination of objective and subjective standards. The recent success of Apple Inc. is probably a good example that.

      Renminbi,

      As your latest comment references neither your first nor my response to it, I assume you are engaging in a monologue.

    10. Lexington Green Says:

      Dan, I would bet that the lady quoted above is not talking about “creativity” in any kind of rigorous sense, such as in the article you link to. Most people who use the word, I would also bet, have any clue that there is any kind of empirical and analytic meaning to the word. The lady quouted in the article is throwing the word around as a form of self-congratulation. Nor is it “anti-intellectual” to deride people who loosely use the word to describe whatever type of unproductive nonsense they want to attach it to. You are bringing specialized and technical information to the table that most people don’t know about. Moreover, the information you refer to will not lead to any diminution in the overuse and misuse of the words “creative” and “creativity”.

    11. tdaxp Says:

      You are bringing specialized and technical information to the table that most people don’t know about.

      Indeed. We must all be aware of jargon. ;-)

    12. Vader Says:

      Given my experience with news stories on things I know something about, I’d guess that journalism involves a great deal of creativity.

    13. Lexington Green Says:

      Well, sure, we must beware of jargon.

      But I am saying that you are using the term in a technical and rigorous way that few others are aware of.

      Further, and to the point, the lady who is quoted in this article is manifestly not using it in the technical sense that you are using it.

      All that said, it is nice to know that someone has made a study of creativity and has managed to pin down something tangible to associate with that overworked word.

    14. David Foster Says:

      tdaxp…not sure why you reacted so strongly to renminbi’s comment. He said, “Originality is very much overated and worthless if not the a byproduct of a sound knowledge of ones field.”

      You linked a study of inventors in the hard disk drive industry. Haven’t read it yet, but I’d be willing to bet all of the inventors had “sound knowledge” of some field or fields involved in disk drives, whether electronics, magnetic recording, or mechanical engineering.

    15. JaimeRoberto Says:

      Do we even want journalists to be creative? I would prefer that they report the truth, rather than create “their truth”.

    16. renminbi Says:

      I remember reading, in the NYTimes, a reporter praising a judge for his creativity. How is one to obey the law judges can be “creative” with it?
      Journalism is another place where “creativity” is generally out of place. If I want fiction there are plenty of novelistic masterpieces to hand. It is nice to see an admission against interest that J schools prize creativity. Best avoid the MSM.

    17. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I thought journalists were supposed to report facts, not be creative.

    18. Ginny Says:

      The jrouanlist/tacher seems a remarkable example of speculation rather than analysis. Is marketing a stable market? It is hard to see journalism as one. I actually think men and women do think differently – I’m not sure the difference need be assessed in terms of quality (though men, of course, are always the outliers). Still, it must be pleasant being a man in this woman’s class when she assumes that women are more creative. Do people realize what they are saying when they make such smug observations?

    19. david foster Says:

      I think there’s plenty of room for creativity in journalism–in the use of language, in choice of subjects, and in angle of coverage. None of which, of course, justifies “creativity” in the reporting of facts.

    20. Silicon Valley Jim Says:

      Men tend to be drawn to more analytical majors such as engineering or business, whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said.

      This, of course, explains why the vast majority of composers are female, right? Why, there’s, uh . . .

    21. kevIN Says:

      As a Programmer (and Business Analyst) by trade, I find computer programming to be part art and part logic. I’ve also found that some people are better at putting workable structured code together than others. It also takes skill and creativity to best mesh with the human user – making something that will actually be used in a productive fashion – versus the many pie-in-the-sky projects that managements seems to dream up.

    22. Jane Says:

      Men have been hands-down winners in creativity in my book in all of human history. Gorgeous art, music, sculpture. It takes a good deal of analytical ability to write a symphony. Creativity is to me masculine as much as feminine. I gush over feminine creativity (Christie, Austin), too, but to say women are ‘more’ creative is ridiculous.

      But as for nosy, gossipy, busybodies — women win.

      ALSO

      I have a gut feeling that boys are shortchanged in the reading/writing/literature areas in school. These subjects should be taught with the utmost respect for the rules and ways of language. Once the boys learn the tools, they can create. If they are just handed a pencil and told to use their imagination, they will probably stare out of the window and wish to heaven they were somewhere else . . . .

      FURTHERMORE

      The feminist leaning of English departments in universities is nauseating. Give me Chaucer, Johnson and Boswell, and Shakespeare any day. I’m not afraid of men authors. I’m a woman, but when faced with the “unshorn sisters of the apocalypse” in the English department, I switched to the history wing — and found to my surprise men there who still cared about liberal arts.

    23. Jane Says:

      Austen, not Austin.

    24. vinny vidivici Says:

      The whole old-media, gatekeeper-and-intermediary model — and along with it the J-schools that provide its apparatchiks — can’t disappear fast enough.

      If a free citizenry relies upon accurate information, then we’ve been dreadfully under-served by modern journalism. We don’t need to have the world explained to us by J-school grads who can’t read a balance sheet and have little understanding of science, economics, history or engineering. And we don’t need politically-compromised hacks shaping and framing public discourse.

    25. Steve Says:

      >>”the creativity that journalism allows for”

      That’s true, sadly enough, although it’s a big part of what is killing journalism . So much for “just the facts”.

    26. FuTekiSetsu Says:

      I can think of three fields where I don’t want to see people trying to be creative:

      Accounting
      Taxidermy
      Journalism

      Even engineers tend to be highly creative people. Same for business people, scientists, etc.

    27. nerdbert Says:

      I used to teach undergraduate physics.

      I can say from experience that journalism students are much more creative than engineers. Why, I remember one answer on magnetic strength in one of my quizes where my only possible comment was, “Perhaps you need to check your math. With a magnetic field that strong you could flip the spin of the galaxy.”

    28. Kevin Murphy Says:

      For examples of creative engineers, please see the US Patent Database.

    29. mpw280 Says:

      Maybe the men saw the axe swinging and decided they might not be employed in reporting in the near future, so decided to enter fields with better prospects. The women on the other hand chose to follow old ideas and are now graduating in a field that is quickly vanishing. As to creativity in reporting, ask Mary Mapes how that worked out for her. Substance and diligence are more than a match for creativity when it comes to reporting, which is as it should be, since reporting is supposed to be about the facts not the views of the reporter. mpw

    30. tdaxp Says:

      David,

      not sure why you reacted so strongly to renminbi’s comment.

      Because he said “Creativity is what you can pat yourself on the back for if you have produced nothing of tangible value.”

      This is absurd, irrelevent, and typical of the antiintellectualism of the ignorant. Nearly the same attack (from the left, often) is used against “intelligence.” Previously, anti-war activists said the same thing about national honor, etc.

      You linked a study of inventors in the hard disk drive industry. Haven’t read it yet, but I’d be willing to bet all of the inventors had “sound knowledge” of some field or fields involved in disk drives, whether electronics, magnetic recording, or mechanical engineering.

      Indeed. One of the ways the field is progressing is determining how expeience impacts creativity. There seem to be upper and lower critical limits, but where these are in different fields is under dispute.

    31. Dotar Sojat Says:

      I’m a graduate of the University of Kansas. The J School is a dumping ground. I doubt you will find much actual creativity there, although there is a lot of pc news skewing.

    32. Daryl Herbert Says:

      What kind of “creativity” are they talking about?

      Inventing news stories? Coming up with new ways to spin the news for Democrats?

    33. The Grey Man Says:

      Let’s deal in FACTS.

      Facts + Creativity = advertising (in politics, this is campaigning or spinning)

      Creativity – Facts = art

      Facts + Logic = science

      Analysis of what is fact + reporting of same without bias = journalism

      Now just what is this school teaching again?

    34. Mike Says:

      If women want a “stable position in an attractive market,” why are they going into journalism?

    35. clifford Says:

      “…the creativity that journalism allows for…”

      I think that right there encapsulates the problem with journalism today, and the people’s general distrust of the press. When Facts and Truth are a creative process, that isn’t journalism; that is propaganda.

    36. wheels Says:

      I imagine that she phrased it as, “women enjoy the creativity,” because it didn’t occur to her to say that women can’t, or prefer not to, go into the fields where rigor is required.

      Not that that’s true of all women, or even only of women. If Ms. Brill can generalize, though, so can I.

    37. Wile E. Coyote Says:

      Creativity is certainly a word that has become a weapon for some people to feel superior. When I was a working musician, I was always amazed at the sneering from some, usually the lesser talents, at business and commerce as being “uncreative.”

      I observed an even more insidious effect, however. A myth has grown up in our culture that truly creative people spend a lot of time gazing dreamily at the sky and then, WHAM!, a brilliant idea strikes! It’s not surprising why this idea is so attractive. It is an easy rationalization for, essentially, sitting around on your duff and pretending that you are being “creative.” I admit to using it to rationalize my own laziness at times.

      Again, my experience in the music world taught me that the “geniuses” were almost uniformly people who spent the whole day WORKING. Composers wrote constantly. Excellent instrumentalists practiced constantly. Any breakthroughs I had in my own work invariably came during long sessions of work or just afterwards, when I would be thinking about the work I had just done.

      Of the people I knew in the visual arts, the ones who were actually successful (whether in a commercial sense or in the sense of creating good work) were the ones who (gasp!) treated it like a job. One painter I know, who has become a bit of a name, got up every day and worked for 10-12 hours in his studio.

      I can’t help but feel that many perceive “creative” jobs as ones in which they don’t have to do much work. The reality usually hits them, though.

    38. renminbi Says:

      Wile E.:
      Or do they rationalize it and say that the world doesn’t appreciate their creativity?

    39. A chemist Says:

      Am I reading this wrong or does Mr. Foster think genetics and evolutionary differences don’t exist? That’s as much pseudo-science as creationism. I am amused in the brill about the description of business as a rigorous field. Having both science and business degree, and also friends who do, I don’t know a scientist who has taken an MBA that thinks the majority was anything other than “fluffy.” Business degrees require only a handful of classes that are rigorous in the same sense as math or hard sciences are.

      As to creativity, that is a common prejudice. You can’t be a good scientist or engineer without it but the liberal arts do tend to think of it as theirs. It seems to be a variation of Snowe’s (sp) assertion of the two world views: my own experience is the common interpretation is backward. Scientists do learn about culture on their own: its liberal arts types who don’t want to understand math and science. Granted it is harder to pick up tensor calculus on your own than, say, art.

    40. D. Cohen Says:

      I’m reminded of an observation (from John W. Gardner)

      The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

      A corollary of this would be that a profession, such as journalism, that elevates the creative over the analytical will end up with both shoddy creations and shoddy analysis …

    41. Bozoer Rebbe Says:

      I’m not sure where I stand on the creativity continuum. I’m an inventor, a writer and try to run a small business.

      “An intellectual is someone who thinks because a rose smells better than a cabbage it will make better soup”. H L Mencken.

      And a creative person is someone who smells a rose, wonders what the soup would taste like, and proceeds to create a recipe.

      I’d like Dean Brill to look at the magnificent Mackinaw Bridge and tell me that Prof. David B. Steinman was not creative. The bridge will last for centuries, is designed to withstand hurricane force winds and more, vitally connects the two peninsulas that make up Michigan and it’s undeniably beautiful.

      In my experience, engineers are among the most creative folks I know. The look at something and more often than not will have an idea to make it better.

    42. david foster Says:

      A Chemist….”Am I reading this wrong or does Mr. Foster think genetics and evolutionary differences don’t exist?” How in the world did you get that out of what I wrote? Creative reading?

    43. JorgXMcKie Says:

      Vinny, it still cracks me up when I come (not often enough, probably) and see your nod d’ web.

      Anyway, I teach at a state U with a large ‘College of Education’ and I find it interesting that while the rest of the U mostly makes them the butt of the joke, they make fun of the Journalism Dept and the j-students.

      I’m pretty sure that demonstrates something, but bI’m not totally sure what.

      (One joke is that journalism is full of students [mostly female] who had ACT scores only allowing them into Ed courses or j-courses and they were too lazy to become teachers.)

    44. JAL Says:

      journalism is inherently more creative than either business or engineering.

      Well, based on the current state of “reporting” these days, she may have a point.

      I read, hear, and watch quite a bit of creative journalism. (MSNBC’s recent ‘reporting’ on Phoenix comes to mind in a blinding flash.)

      Whether “creativity” in journalism is a desireable trait would be nice discussion.

      As for engieering and business — my husband is an engineer whose greatest satisfaction came from designing things which did what they were supposed to do well. My BIL, on the other hand, is a Columbia MBA (on top of an engineering degree, interestingly enough) and over the years he worked with a large corportation he had some petty significnat challenges which required a skill set including creativity, innovation, diplomacy and guts.

      Why does this interview with the Dean sound like an 8 year old having a school yard discussion? It’s not about better all the time, is it? (Remember Michelle Obama? She thinks helping professions are better than “making money.”)

      Generally speaking journalists would have and need a different set of talents and skills than engineers, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs and management people. It’s what makes the world go round, Dean. But having a corner on “creativity?” Don’t think so.

    45. david foster Says:

      Wile E Coyote…relevant thoughts from Stravinsky and Michael Lewis.

    46. Debi Says:

      A problem I deal with constantly. I remember back in my long-ago-college days being given a test comparing my logical brain to my emotional brain (I, along with several other art majors and scoring 50/50. Dear God, but the instructor was just stunned. How could someone as intuitive as I, as sensitive artistically (his words, not mine) also be so logical? I found it quite bigoted actually, and still do. When people find out I am not a liberal, they say to me “But you’re an artist! You should understand!” Oh,I tell them – I DO.

    47. Bozoer Rebbe Says:

      Of the people I knew in the visual arts, the ones who were actually successful (whether in a commercial sense or in the sense of creating good work) were the ones who (gasp!) treated it like a job. One painter I know, who has become a bit of a name, got up every day and worked for 10-12 hours in his studio.

      John Hiatt is a successful songwriter. He wrote Bonnie Riatt’s hit, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, among others that you’ve probably heard. He gets up every day, puts on his suit and goes in to his office where he writes music. He said that if he didn’t treat it like a job, he’d never get anything done.

      Before the Beatles made it de rigueur for pop singers to write their own material, most popular music was written by people working in office buildings, like the legendary Brill Building in New York. Doc Pomus, Lieber & Stoller, Carol King, Paul Simon and others wrote some pretty creative stuff treating songwriting as a job.

      One note. I’ve heard engineering students say that they don’t need to take any English or writing courses because they’re techies. I usually explain that even engineers have to write persuasive proposals and defend their ideas.

    48. david foster Says:

      Bozoer Rebbe…”I usually explain that even engineers have to write persuasive proposals and defend their ideas.”

      Not only do they have to write persuasive proposals, they have to deliver persuasive presentations…which means more than droning through bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation. Colleges should really be teaching “rhetoric” in the classical sense, and anyone who is serious about their career should study it.

    49. Blacksmith Says:

      I don’t know about the gender thing (I will say I’ve seen no evidence of it), but given the recent flap about MSNBC editing their broadcasts to permit them to make assertions in direct contradiction of the facts on the ground, I’m sure “creativity” is exactly what J-schools are now looking for.

    50. Ken Hahn Says:

      Journalism, and especially journalism schools, are now devoted to propaganda. Most journalists could not analyze a bus schedule but they certainly can create stories to promote the narrative. It has nothing to do with gender. It has everything to due with the loss of ethics in journalism.

    51. Richard Says:

      Interesting – if my recollection is correct, wasn’t Larry Summers run out on a rail for saying essentially what Ann Brill is saying — that men are more predisposed to science and math than women?

    52. John Says:

      And herein lies the problem with today’s news media:

      Journalists and reporters are not supposed to be creative. They are supposed to report on the facts as they are, without any “creative” license or selection in which facts the choose to report and which they choose to ignore.

    53. Patrick M Says:

      I’m reading this at lunch after being in a morning patent committee meeting at my workplace. I came here via instapundit, thinking the article might have some insights into the creativity needed to make inventions. What a letdown, another example of stupidity among the liberal-academia elites. The comments are mostly a delight (great quote on plumbers and philosophers).

      The mind boggles at the ignorance of the ‘intellectuals’ on the liberal arts side of the fence.

      To use the above-mentioned algebra:
      Logic + Facts = Science
      Science + Inventiveness/creativity = Engineering

      There is creativity in most every field of endeavor, but in each field that creativity has to abide by the rules – you optimize within the constraints of reality. Yes, you use both sides of the brain for that.

      “I observed an even more insidious effect, however. A myth has grown up in our culture that truly creative people spend a lot of time gazing dreamily at the sky and then, WHAM!, a brilliant idea strikes! It’s not surprising why this idea is so attractive. It is an easy rationalization for, essentially, sitting around on your duff and pretending that you are being “creative.” I admit to using it to rationalize my own laziness at times.”

      Indeed. Thomas Edison, a man with more creativity than any other American said it was 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration. That’s not to say that theta-wave inspiration isnt needed, but your brain has to be prepared with the fertile soil of thinking through the problem/challenge/expression attempted. A prepared mind can then take the next leaps.

      Someone said: “I would bet that the lady quoted above is not talking about “creativity” in any kind of rigorous sense” Amazing, she is teaching the trade of dealing in words and lacks precision in her own use of them! What the J-school Dean Brill really means is “creativity” as defined as not being constrained and hemmed in by the rigors of facts, logic, and detailed analysis that the engineers suffer under. This is not RealityWorld where 2+2=4, but CreativityWorld, where you can write post-modernist mumbo-jumbo essays on how 2+2 could really be 5. It’s treating stupid and intellectually lazy as an odd sort of virtue.

      What even funnier is that if you peel it back another layer, you have her basically saying the same thing that got Larry Summer fired from Presidency of Harvard Univ. – those women dont like those boring analytical fields because they arent wired for it: “It’s probably a right brain/left brain thing. That sounds sexist, but there’s some truth to it.”

      Creativity in journalism? That’s a bug not a feature, and a truly mockable concept.
      Journalism should be akin to the “Science of Current Events” – just the facts ma’am on what is going on. Anything beyond that is a donkey trying to tapdance (viz the Aesop Fable).

    54. Dave Eaton Says:

      Nerdbert-

      I never had a journalism student in one of my classes, but when I was teaching an upper division physical chemistry lab, I had a lot of chem engineering students. One of them, doing a classic experiment on the vapor pressure of a liquid, reported a) negative kelvin temperatures, and b) a pressure with a logarithm equal to 35. I wish I had watched him do that experiment. It might be unwise to ascribe his results to creativity, though, unless utter disregard for what you are doing constitutes creativity. (He seemed remarkably sanguine at my rebukes. It was bad politics to fail someone from the engineering dept outright, so I made him do it again. I shudder to think that this young man might now manage operations at a pesticide or explosives plant…)

      I have many liberal arts friends, some of them academics. Many do not at all realize that it takes creativity to solve problems. They think of science and engineering more as procedures than tools.

    55. HalifaxCB Says:

      The “analysis vs creativity” argument is simply a canard. You can’t do original analysis unless you are also creative, and you can’t be creative (in any meaningful sense) unless you are capable of doing the analysis necessary to support it. Einstein didn’t arrive at his end conclusions simply by following a trail of physical formulae; Mozart didn’t create his music without a deep understanding of musical rules and structures.

      Analysis is the process of breaking difficult to grasp concepts into chunks that can be understood; creativity is the ability to percieve in those parts a greater underlying principle, and to express it.

      As for the engineering vs journalism example; that probably has a lot more to do with the fact that men are more willing to take risks than women are. That includes the risk of being proven wrong (as a mathematician, I can attest to the fact there is no group more merciless in ridicule than scientists when one is proven wrong; as an artist I can attest to the fact that since there is no real ability to prove right or wrong in the liberal arts, most arguments come down to who’s got the bigger posse.)

      How much that willingness to take risk is a product of genetics, and how much is a product of culture, I’ll leave on the table….

    56. Ron Says:

      Journalists tend to be a too creative these days. It seems that most of them are not above making up “facts” to advance their political agendas. Anything printed in a newspaper needs to be taken with a whole shaker of salt.

      On the other hand, creativity can be quite beneficial to the engineering disciplines. Just look at the great products that the folks at Apple continually pump out.

    57. Danno Says:

      “I think one of the reasons is a lot of women get into the j-school is they want go into advertising sales and television,” she said. “I know the market is attractive, they make a good salary, and it’s a pretty basic concept.”

      Is Trimble insane or doesn’t he have a clue what’s going on in the advertising industry?

    58. renminbi Says:

      Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm– but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

      — T. S. ELiot

      Well, if you have negligible analytical ability, why not pat yourself on the back for one’s “Creativity”.Then one can be a wonderful person.

      People who are intelligent or creative don’t brag about how wonderful they are.

    59. tdaxp Says:

      “The “analysis vs creativity” argument is simply a canard. You can’t do original analysis unless you are also creative, and you can’t be creative (in any meaningful sense) unless you are capable of doing the analysis necessary to support it. Einstein didn’t arrive at his end conclusions simply by following a trail of physical formulae; Mozart didn’t create his music without a deep understanding of musical rules and structures.

      Analysis is the process of breaking difficult to grasp concepts into chunks that can be understood; creativity is the ability to percieve in those parts a greater underlying principle, and to express it.”

      J.P. Guilford, who began the scientific study of creativity 60 years ago, would often use ‘divergent thinking’ for creativity, and ‘convergent thinking’ for intelligence, with just this distinction in mind.

    60. Marty Says:

      Whenever I’m around people in the “media” I make it a point to ask what, exactly, do they teach in J-school, that is academically meaningful (don’t even say “rigorous”, anymore, because that always just got blank looks) and makes J-school better training than 2 years of apprenticeship.

      Not once have I received an answer that made any sense, or even that was delivered with any conviction.

      So, I figure it’s all just a scam and the people in the media are in on it. It’s just a way to impose meaningless credentialism to keep out undesirables and generally reduce competition, same as any number of other credentialist or licensing schemes.

      Which would explain a lot, if true.

      btb, if anyone raeds that and has a good answer for my question, please post it.

      and, obviously, I think this Dean is just blowing it out her cloaca. Turn it around and imagine a male Daen of an Enginneringschool making such an argument when asked why 70% of his students are male?

    61. LS Says:

      “Journalists tend to be a too creative these days.”

      I would agree. And their editors are as well.

      IMHO, the only part of the media that I would accept the “analysis/creativity” thing would be advertising. I am an ad designer and find that the best work comes from those who can think both “left brain” and “right brain.”

    62. Bozoer Rebbe Says:

      Many do not at all realize that it takes creativity to solve problems.

      My brother fixes industrial machinery for a living. I did IT support for a while. We’ve discussed problem solving and troubleshooting. There’s a difference between a mechanic and a parts replacer. Like the old invoice says, 10 cents for the part $1,000 to know which part.

      Two engineers may come up with acceptable solutions to a problem, both of them functional and elegant, and both completely different. Part of the genius of the patent system is that it motivates people to find a different way to accomplish the same task, hopefully a better way.

      Speaking of patents, browse through some old patents and you’ll find marvelous patent drawings, absolutely beautiful line art. Fine art aficionados and journalism professors may think that engineers aren’t artist, but many engineers have pretty good chops as draftsmen.

      I recently had an opportunity to pitch Telebrands with a consumer product idea I’d come up with only a few weeks ago. A friend who’s an engineer used Solidworks to make some pretty impressive images. Fine art? No. Creative? Hell yeah.

      It’s one thing to draw a picture of a nude model, a still life, or a landscape. It’s another to draw a picture of something that doesn’t yet exist.

    63. bill Says:

      I work in Information Technology. I create solutions. There are rules, constraints, and systems to work with and within, but I.T. is creative.

    64. ZZMike Says:

      “… whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said.”

      Creativity in journalism: as in, “make stories up”? Work out ways to slant facts to the accepted party viewpoint?

      If they’re talking about writing – putting ideas into words, sentences, paragraphs, articles – why is it that writing, both fiction and non-fiction, is dominated by men? (The good writers who are women are as good or better than the men, but it’s still true that there are much fewer of them.)

      “Men tend to be drawn to more analytical majors such as engineering or business, whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said.”

      Analytical majors almost exclusively involve math, and almost exclusively involve problem-solving that results in a go/no-go outcome – either the product works or it doesn’t; either the business plan pays off or it doesn’t.

      Writing, and especially journalism, deals with opinion and story-telling. The stories may be true (as with investigative journalism), but their expression into words (written or broadcast) is much harder to judge. Outright lies or plagarism are career-killers, but as long as you can write a coherent paragraph, you’re a journalist.

      Bozoer Rebbe: I agree with your point, but those old patent drawings were made by artists trained in that field. And they’re a heck of a lot better than what you’ll see in today’s patents.

      I notice that the lead question, “What, Precisely, is “Creativity”?” doesn’t get answered. That’s because there is no “precise” answer. It’s one of those things that you recognize when you see it, but it’s really hard to define.

      tdaxp makes a good start, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Perople have been thinking about creativity for a very long time. Thinking hard about it started some time in the 50s [?] with people in the advertising industry. [See also Fritz Zwicky on morphology.] Bookshelves have been written about it. Schools teach it (even though some maintain it can’t be taught – it’s like being able to play the violin – either you can or you can’t). I believe everybody can be taught to improve on the creative ability they have.

      Patrick M: You’re right. Edison didn’t walk around gazing into the sky. People who do that trip a lot. There are lots of famous cases of people suddenly being hit with the solution to a problem (remember Archimedes in the bathtub? Kekule and the benzene ring?), but the fact is, they’ve spent months and years thinking hard about the problem. Then, usually when they’re thinking about something else, the solution comes. Without all that preparation, you don’t break out of the box.

    65. Kevin R.C. O'Brien Says:

      Now let me get this straight. This supergenius from the Acme WIle E. Coyote Chair of Applied Supergenius at some cow college J-school says that women are going into journalism because (1) they are “creative” and (2) they value “stability.”

      They’re certainly creative. Like that MSNBC woman who had video of a black guy edited to hide his race and fit her prefab racist narrative about angry white men. I’d like to think I’m pretty creative but I wouldn’t have thought of that.

      But if they seek job stability, in journalism? Here’s a google search of a href=”http://news.google.com/news/search?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=journalist+layoff”>”journalist” and “layoff”. You get slightly different variations with the plurals.

      Very first hit when I ran it: Washington Post profiles a “journalist” who’s so creative that after being whacked, she’s burning through her savings pretending to her friends she’s still employed in that notoriously high-prestige (snort!) high-income (snort again!) field. She’s a TV journo who can’t find another gig. Hot tip, honey: TV “journalists” are hired for looks, not skillz. At 39 you are past your sell-by date. You sure chose yourself some “stability.” What did you ever think you’d do when you started to wrinkle? Time to show some of that vaunted creativity and seek the entry-level clerical job J-school prepares you for.

      Next hit: The inevitable “Journalism collapses, minorities hardest hit” evergreen, in this case from the Boston Globe, which Pinch Sulzberger will sell you for one cat’s-eye marble and a case of beer. And you can owe him the beer. It turns out that layoffs are a threat to newsroom diversity. It’s very important that there be a proper balance of black, asian, hispanic, native American and inuit/aleut liberal Democrats in the newsroom. (Note. I read the google cache of the page — the actual Boston Globe page gives a malware alert. Maybe that’s how they’re creatively planning to pay for all those Underperformers of Colour?)

    66. tdaxp Says:

      ZZMike,

      tdaxp makes a good start, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Perople have been thinking about creativity for a very long time. Thinking hard about it started some time in the 50s [?] with people in the advertising industry. [See also Fritz Zwicky on morphology.] Bookshelves have been written about it. Schools teach it (even though some maintain it can’t be taught – it’s like being able to play the violin – either you can or you can’t). I believe everybody can be taught to improve on the creative ability they have.

      Indeed, books have been written on creativity for a long time. The scientific study of creativity began with Guilford’s (1950), which was actually presented in 1949. Whether the psychometric properties of creativity, creative production certainly can be improved with training.

      Guilford, J.P. (1950) Creativity, American Psychologist, vol5, pp444-454.