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RE: Sex Differences: Do females and males have different brains? Addendum

in #steemstem4 years ago

I just love this post. Entertaining and informative--also had me arguing throughout--especially the last quote: "even if differential treatment of the sexes did not occur". The absurd proposition of the quote stunned me. As soon as there are perceived differences between any two things, there is a difference in treatment. Even in the case of identical twins, there are differences in treatment. Until AI does rule the universe, people will bring subjective perceptions to every situation. This can be based on something as random as birth order, or something as substantial as perceived similarity to a birth parent. So...perceived gender differences will always affect socialization. This is a never-ending loop.

I remember taking an aptitude/preference test (to help me choose a career path) as a very young woman. The testing took about three days--I stretched it out because it was a tedious procedure. At the end, I was told by the administrator that the result showed (among other things) that I had both female and male preferences. Well, that was helpful.

Whatever science tells us about gender determination in general, this is of little relevance to the individual. I think the results only tend to reinforce policies that satisfy someone's agenda.

We should forget about gender. Just offer kids--people--all options and try (impossible) to keep our expectations out of it. Life and circumstances will take over in ways we cannot anticipate.


You're right in that keeping our expectations (broadly, our values) out of it is impossible. All we can do is educate ourselves as much as possible, and hope that this will direct our actions more in the right direction.

I briefly tackled some of the other points you raised in previous posts of mine, including this one, in which I give a quote and then comment on it:

Claims that feminist aims would be invalidated were science to establish that cognitive sex differences are caused partly or totally by biological factors [...] reflect a failure to understand the scientific literature.[4, p. 245]

There's a lot of reasons behind that statement, but one of the main ones is that differences between individuals are much greater than differences between the group labelled "male" vs the group labelled "female". If you're looking to hire someone, or admit someone to a course, or offer them a teaching position, knowing their sex does nothing to help your hiring algorithm.[4, p. 245]

And afterwards I offer an example (having to do with female periods) about how ignoring the science can actually hurt feminist aims.

So I agree that the majority of our behavior is the result of our socialization, but, like the quote you disliked at the end, the science tells us that even without it, some male/female differences would remain. It's easier to see this if we look at other animals. I don't see why we should be so different from all our animal relatives in that we, as opposed to them, are 100% the result of socialization.

But, again, in real life, as I explain in other posts, individual differences matter much more than average group differences. Just because John knows Jane is a female, doesn't tell him almost anything about her specifically, except maybe her genitals, and even that's not 100%.

Oh dear, I have to do my research to get back and offer what I hope will be a valid rebuttal. I read your blog on hormones/gender determination. This is where I think I'll have to begin. Hormones are certainly powerful factors, but what determines those? Are there epigenetic influences that help to regulate those hormones? Can we ever truly separate hormone secretion from social influences? Two articles I found in a cursory Google search hint at the direction of my reading: Epigenetics meets endocrinology and Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior. I think, in order to have a purely objective discussion, I'll have to leave gender out of it. This is a charged subject. Better to look generally at how social/external/epigenetic factors can influence hormone secretion. Right now, I have nothing meaningful to say, but I hope that will change in the future.
Good, provocative blog--obviously got me working :)

What you're saying is already meaningful!

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