Are Gender Stereotypes Accurate?

in #steemstem2 years ago (edited)

Chicken Sexing

394px-More_chicks-.jpg

They all look the same, until you get to know them.
Source: Keith Weller, USDA ARS w/ Public Domain license.

Chicken sexing is the art of separating chicks into females and males. This art is so hard to art-iculate, and therefore teach, that Western chicken sexers often waited till the chick was 5-6 weeks' old to do the sexing[1].

The Japanese, however, were able to do it with day-old chicks, because they figured out an ingenious method of teaching this art:

The student would pick up a chick, examine its rear, and toss it into a bin. The master would then say 'yes' or 'no' based on his generally correct observation. After a few weeks, the student's brain was trained to masterful levels.[2]

The example is often used in philosophy to explain the innumerable cases in which people are prone to know something without being able to articulate how or why they know it:

we are highly accurate at categorizing natural kinds, substances, artefacts, and so on. We do so quickly and subconsciously, and the process is completely inaccessible to introspection.[1]

Could the same be true of gender stereotyping? After all, we have experiences with males and females from, literally, day one. Before we're even born, one could claim! We spend our entire lives with males and females.

Yet many in the sex differences literature claim that our male/female stereotypes are wrong. How could that be—and are they? Or is this yet another case of highfalutin academics looking down on people's unlearned intuitions?

Rigidly Held, Illogically Derived, and Erroneous in Content

prayer_pray_rosary_hands_religion_faith_cross_christianity-1207553-.jpg

Are stereotypes like other demonstrably erroneous beliefs?
Source: pxhere w/ CC0 Public Domain license.

That is how Walter Lippman — the journalist who first brought stereotypes to the attention of social scientists in 1922 — defined stereotypes: "generalizations about social groups that are rigidly held, illogically derived, and erroneous in content."[3]

You don't have to be an expert in definitions to recognize that assessing a stereotype's accuracy scientifically is a lost cause when stereotype is defined as having "erroneous content" from the outset.

And yet the "assumption that stereotypes are necessarily erroneous was implicit or explicit in much of the early work on stereotypes."[3]

Group after group of college students who submitted themselves to the arduous (though credit-rewarded) process of answering their teachers questionnaires, didn't hesitate to apply sweeping characterizations to entire social categories.[3] How could those generalizations possibly be correct? So researchers blissfully continued along Lippman's line, defining stereotypes as (to take one example) "a fixed impression which conforms very little to the facts it pretends to represent"[3].

It was only in the 50s and 60s that some researchers raised doubts as to the necessary erroneousness of stereotypes. In their work, Gordon Allport (1954) and Henri Tajfel (1969) equated stereotypes to any other objects in everyday life about which we make sweeping generalizations:

As probabilistic generalizations about a group or class of people, stereotypes are accordingly no more illogical or erroneous than generalizations about any other sort of category that perceivers might construct and find useful (e.g., the category of chairs or dogs). Thus, the question of whether stereotypes are erroneous became an empirical question rather than a defining characteristic of stereotypes.[3]

Yes, stereotypes were no longer defined as false. It was, rather, the job of science to discover whether they are false—or true.

As this redefinition of social stereotypes became the default among researchers, the researchers' older view of stereotypes as necessarily false finally caught up with the public (like a bad skype connection, communication between the scientists and the public tends to lag).

But the lag was also partly because of conscious efforts by feminists to maintain the older, and now defunct, view of the stereotype.

(Some) Feminists' Influence on Stereotype Research

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Some influences are negative.
Source: joemurphy w/ Pixabay License.

Alice H. Eagly, in a readable (and recommended) paper titled The science and politics of comparing women and men, which can be described as a review of the literature and the politics of sex differences, states, rather powerfully, that:

Never before in the history of psychology has such a formidable body of scientific information encountered such a powerful political agenda.[4]

What body of scientific information is Eagly talking about? And which political agenda?

Like many feminist psychologists of the time, Eagly, caught up in the passions of the 70s feminist movement, had a simplified view of what empirical research on sex differences would reveal:

Properly analyzed to remove artifacts, this research would yield null findings or, at least, differences that could be described as trivially small.[4]

And that was indeed the consensus during the 70s. But that changed as psychologists studied the matter further. As Eagly reports:

The flood of scientific research on sex differences that followed the modern reemergence of the feminist movement has failed to present psychologists with an absence of differences between the sexes[4]

But that didn't agree with some feminists' political agenda:

Despite the meta-analytic evidence (and other types of evidence) showing many consequential sex differences, many feminist empiricists have worked energetically to preserve the 1970s scientific consensus that sex-related differences are null or small. [...] Indeed, this view has become quite widely accepted in the scientific community and strongly influences contemporary textbook presentations of gender research.[4]

Though people often like to present feminism monolithically, the fact is that you can scarcely put two feminists in a room and find that they agree with each other. The researchers discussed above, who actively try to maintain the idea that sex differences are non-existent, are feminists. The researcher, Eagly, who argues against their position, is a feminist. The author who is presenting this debate to you (yours truly) is also a feminist.

It's strange that all these people have women's—and people's—best interests in mind, and yet are of such different minds about this. That's how, on the one hand, we get researchers who refer to studies of sex differences as "battle weapons against women"[4], and on the other hand those who talk about the necessity of sex differences research, who see it a different way:

One of the things that blows students’ minds is to realize that women disproportionately, about twice as much, suffer from all anxiety and depression disorders relative to men, and almost all our models for studying anxiety disorders are based on male animals. Even in those cases where the results in the male animal don’t necessarily generalize to the female animal, we still use them as models for human depression and anxiety disorders.[5]

That's a quote by neuroscientist Larry Cahill, who works in a field that some others call "neurosexism",  perhaps because of "fears that [it] could lead to a kind of gender essentialism and feed into harmful stereotypes"[5].

Luckily, government bodies are still of a rational turn about this:

In a major policy change implemented in early 2016, the National Institutes of Health made clear its expectation that researchers seeking grants “consider sex as a biological variable in all stages of research.” The reason was simple — if overdue. Past studies often focused on males, yielding results that did not always apply to the other 50.8 percent of the population.[5]

Though many feminists took issue with this decision, my belief is that there is no way to ignore the truth without, in the long run, paying for it with your physical and mental wellbeing. Despite the strong effort by some parties to squelch research that reveals differences in the sexes, I have to side with Larry Cahill on this when he says that "you simply cannot be treating women equally by ignoring them"[5].

Are Sex Differences Small?

800px-Aspirin_and_generics_on_Canadian_drugstore_shelf-.jpg

What's bigger than aspirin's effect on heart attacks? Hint: it starts with "s" and ends with "ex differences".
Source: Daniel Case w/ CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

It's instructive to narrow our focus for a moment on the specific issue of whether the differences found between the sexes are small.

Quite reasonably, Eagly says:

differences produced by comparing women and men should be judged in relation to other known findings[4]

In a survey by Lipsey and Wilson (1993) of 302 meta-analyses, the average mean effect of psychological studies was 0.5 on the d metric. That's considered a medium effect size that "people would normally notice in daily life [...] visible to the naked eye"[4] Small effect sizes are 0.2, and large effect sizes are 0.8.

So where do sex differences fall?

Obviously, all over the spectrum, with "substantial numbers"[4] falling in each category, from small differences to large differences.

Therefore, when research that has compared the sexes is judged in relation to reasonable benchmarks for judging psychological findings, it does not support descriptions of sex-related differences as routinely small or as generally smaller than other types of findings of interest to psychologists.[4]

In plainer words: if we chuck sex differences, we'll have to chuck the whole of psychology.

baseball-foul-ball-hit-baseball-bat-159550-.jpg

And we'll have to chuck sports too.
Source: pexels w/ Public Domain license.

And not just psychology. Eagly mentions that in major league baseball the percentage of variance between batting performances is ~ 0.3. But these zero-point-threes stack up, and over time produce a large effect on a team's success. (Imagine a similar .3 difference—a small difference according to the d metrics above—in some performance of women vs men.)

Eagly also mentions an experiment on the effects of aspirin on heart attacks: the experiment was ended prematurely because it was deemed unethical to withhold treatment from the placebo group, even if the variance in heart attacks was only 0.1%. Other drug experiments were ended on similar grounds, with similar small effect sizes—much smaller compared to many sex differences.

Even those who admit that sex differences exist, often add that they are quite small. This, to me, has the intention of trivializing what one has just admitted.

The same strategy is employed in many psychology textbooks, where a footnote warning that the sex differences are small often accompanies the text, whereas the same is not done for equally small differences of other psychological findings.

Some psychologists have even recommended that all sex comparisons should be accompanied by a percentage variance "tag" attached to them [...]. Unless these tags are added to all effects that are reported for a study (or in a textbook), such a practice would trivialize a particular class of findings because most readers would be unaware that the percentage of variance accounted for by any one variable is ordinarily a small number in psychological research.[4]

Indeed, this hand-waving reference to sex differences as small—i.e. something not worth acting upon; unlike, say, aspirins for heart problems—undermines the practical significance of these findings, and may blind some researchers to the possibility that large social status differences between men and women might be the result not of injustice, but of the cumulative effects of very small differences.

In fact, I may be very gracious in saying that some researchers may be ignoring this possibility of the cumulative effect of small biological differences, given how sensitive these same researchers are to the cumulative effect of social differences. As Michelle Obama writes in her autobiography:

Because what was a basketball game if not a showcase of boys? I’d wear my snuggest jeans and lay on some extra bracelets and sometimes bring one of the Gore sisters along to boost my visibility in the stands. And then I’d enjoy every minute of the sweaty spectacle before me—the leaping and charging, the rippling and roaring, the pulse of maleness and all its mysteries on full display. When a boy on the JV team smiled at me as he left the court one evening, I smiled right back.[6]

The_First_Lady_Pitches_at_Camden_Yards02-.jpg

Now everyone's smiling at her.
Source: obamawhitehouse.archives.gov w/ CC BY 3.0 US license.

Sorry, my quote library is acting up again. What I wanted to paste is this:

I knew I was no smarter than any of them. I just had the advantage of an advocate. I thought about this more often now that I was an adult, especially when people applauded me for my achievements, as if there weren’t a strange and cruel randomness to it all. Through no fault of their own, those second graders had lost a year of learning. I’d seen enough at this point to understand how quickly even small deficits can snowball, too.[6]

I put it to you that, if small and unfair social differences can snowball into large social injustices, then small biological differences that are no one's fault can also snowball into large social differences.

Dipping Our Toes into the Actual Research

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Source: pexels w/ Public Domain license.

I see this post is running long, so I'll make it into two parts.

But before I close it, let me justify the post's title by ending it with some actual research that corroborates the accuracy of gender stereotypes. I'll do that more earnestly in the next post, but here's a taste.

Swim did a study in which she assessed the gender stereotypes of a group against the metaanalytic findings in the sex differences literature. The study involved stereotypes such as restlessness, math, influencability by persuasive messages or group pressure, gazing during conversations, tendency to help in emergency situations, and several more. The results did "not indicate that subjects were consistently overestimating gender differences"[7] (though all the ones I used as examples were in the "accurate stereotype" category).

It seems that subjects were mostly accurate in their stereotyping; secondly, to a lesser degree, somewhat overestimating; and lastly, in the least degree, underestimating.

But, rather interestingly, when it came to women stereotyping men vs men stereotyping women, the stereotyping of the men favored the women:

Favorable feminine characteristics tended to be overestimated.[7]

In other words, the stereotyping was not mostly of the harmful variety, but rather of the idealizing kind (of course, feminists have argued that that's also of the harmful variety).

In another study (but same paper) done by the same author, the results were flipped, in the sense that most subjects underestimated the differences of the sexes, and were accurate and overestimating in about equal measure.[7]

At any rate, both studies failed to bear out the notion that stereotypes are inaccurate (inaccurate in the sense of exaggerated — I doubt that when feminists claim that our stereotypes are inaccurate, they are saying that we are underestimating the differences between men and women!)

As regards favoritism, the results of study 2 mirrored those of study 1: women tend to be stereotyped in more positive ways.

In the conclusion of the paper, the author wrote:

The majority of findings from Study 1 were accurate, whereas the majority from Study 2 were underestimates.[7]

Yes, our stereotypes are, at least according to parts of this research, mostly underestimating the actual differences!

With a couple exceptions:

Only two areas yielded overestimates in both studies. Subjects overestimated men's tendency to be aggressive and women's verbal abilities.[7]

But overestimation does not equal inaccuracy. Confused? You'll have to wait till my next post where I explain!

One last quote from Swim's paper:

A comparison of their estimates to the actual effect sizes indicates that women also revealed in-group favoritism because men's estimates were closer to actual differences.[7]

Curtain Close

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Mr. Freeze exists beyond the Batman universe, though he might look different in our world.
Source: Gage Skidmore w/ CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Though this post was mostly of the appetite-whetting variety, I hope I've been successful in somewhat dispelling the notion that gender stereotypes are inaccurate, and in revealing why this idea that belongs firmly in the 60s is still with us, and who might be responsible for freezing it in time and keeping the public's understanding in a mummified state.

We'll do some heavier-duty thawing in the next post, but for now I'll leave you with a quote by Bari Weiss, a New York Times editor, as it was spoken in this Bill Maher episode:

I was put through that system that you talked about, the snowflake factory, you know, I went to a college where I was told that gender is a social construct, nature doesn't matter at all, that there's really no difference between men and women — I'm sorry, that's just ... those are myths, okay? And that's the lie that the sexual revolution sold to women.

Till next time, keep thinking. ‍


REFERENCES

  1. Horsey, R. (2002). The art of chicken sexing. [online] Available at: http://cogprints.org/3255/1/chicken.pdf.

  2. Falkenstein, E. (2012). The Incredible Intuition Of Professional Chicken Sexers. [online] Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-incredible-intuition-of-professional-chicken-sexers-2012-3.

  3. Judd, C. and Park, B. (1993). Definition and assessment of accuracy in social stereotypes. Psychological Review, [online] 100(1), pp.109-128. Available at: https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0033-295X.100.1.109.

  4. Eagly, A. (1995). The science and politics of comparing women and men. American Psychologist, [online] 50(3), pp.145-158. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.50.3.145.

  5. Daum, M. (2019). Male and Female Brains Are Different. Should It Matter?. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/s/meghan-daum/male-and-female-brains-are-different-should-it-matter-6db82ead5e20.

  6. Obama, M. (2018). Becoming. Random House. http://amzn.com/0525633758

  7. Swim, J. (1994). Perceived versus meta-analytic effect sizes: An assessment of the accuracy of gender stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, [online] 66(1), pp.21-36. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.66.1.21.


Some earlier Sex Differences episodes:

16: Is More Sex Indicative of an Average Intelligence?

15: Cuming of Age: The Boys That Drink Semen to Become Men

13: Sex and the Sexes: Talking Past Each Other

12: Sex Drive in Action

9: The 70-year Cognitive Puzzle That Still Divides The Sexes

8: Do Transsexual Persons Have An Opposite-Sex Brain?

4: Sex Differences: Do females and males have different brains? Pt 2

1: Sex Differences: Does the Chromosome Maketh the Man?


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Hi @alexander.alexis:
I have to begin this long response with a prelude.

My children and I often disagree, though we share the same ethics and values (mostly). Likewise here. Your blogs are wonderful...well researched and entertaining, but sometimes I disagree. My response to this blog--mostly a disagreement--is offered below, with affection:


Stereotypes. They certainly simplify interaction, don't they? It's easy. We see people. They seem to fit into some fixed impression we have about a group. And so, right away we feel we know something important about them, something that allows us to deal with them efficiently. Just like the chicken sorter. When working with large numbers, it's easier to process them if you use generalized traits.

Of course, you may lose a chicken here and there. Or an individual. Stereotypes work for the mean, but not the specific. And I, as a person, am very specific. As are most people.

The chickens are not in a position to protest, and the chicken sorter, overall, is satisfied with the system, because it's efficient. But efficiency can be a dull instrument. And brutal. It doesn't allow for the exquisite charm of a unique personality, the kind of charm that has allowed Homo sapiens to progress.

It is not the mean, the average, those who fit into stereotypes that stand out, that make discoveries, that create. It is those precisely who don't fit into stereotypes that have carried human beings from the Stone Age to the present--with all its complexity challenges.

As for gender stereotypes--I'm not sure they're the bluntest tool, because I think of race and ethnicity and how related stereotypes drive behavior. But they are pretty stupid. They suffocate individual aspiration. They mold young personalities, so that innate inclinations are stunted and manufactured ambitions encouraged.

Of course, culture and biology help to shape gender identity in the individual. These factors influence, similarly, intelligence, physical prowess and susceptibility to disease. But it is the worst kind of educator who teaches students based on preconceived notions. And the worst sort of doctor who does not treat each patient as a unique case.

And so it is with gender. There are some things predictable about me, as a woman. But most of who I am, the most important parts of me, do not correspond to stereotypes.

I hope, and believe that is true for you, also.

Hope you don't mind the long and contentious response. I'm looking forward to Part II :)

Your comments are always welcome and I know you well enough by now to know they're always well-intentioned!

I can't disagree with what you're saying. I'd say what you're saying is true, and what the research says is also true. The problem arises when those who believe in what you're saying start thinking that the people who believe in what I'm saying should be silenced for the sake of the greater good, that sex differences research should not be conducted because it will lead to harm — because if there's one thing the history of science teaches us, is that we're great at predicting the practical outcomes of our research avenues!

Think of it this way: I had no idea gender stereotypes were as accurate as they are. Like most (I assume) people, I kinda defined stereotypes as erroneous. After having done the research, I can't for the life of me explain to you what on earth had led me to believe that people who have innumerable interactions with men and women every single day would have erroneous stereotypes about them. Do we have erroneous stereotypes about the colors of trees? the general shape of a chair? No. So what made me think that our stereotypes about the genders were wildly misleading? Cultural brainwashing is the only answer I can think of, and I don't like that being done to me!

Charm may have allowed Homo sapiens to progress, but science even more so.

In a one-on-one interaction I obviously adapt to the person in front of me. That happens automatically, I don't even need to think about it. I don't know if the narrative that stereotypes make us blind to differences is true. On the contrary, they might make it easier to spot a difference. When I see Dali's Mae West Lips Sofa, I don't immediately reject it because it doesn't look like any other sofa I'd ever seen. I marvel at it. The main reason women who stand out in positive ways are wonderful and appreciated is because most women don't stand out in those ways.

In the next post I answer some of your objections, and I actually use a comment of yours to illustrate cos no one put the point better than you. I might link to your comment here as well!

Hi,
Thanks for that thoughtful response, but as you might have anticipated, I'm not that easily dispatched :)

First I'll start with chairs and trees. While I do believe trees respond to their environment (chairs definitely do not), they are not sentient beings. They do not have the subtlety of intellect that endows humans with individuality. It is this individuality that debunks stereotypes.

Stereotypes are like a plow on a construction site. They're instruments that lump together disparate elements which from a distance appear to be the same, but are really comprised of rocks, dirt, sand, microscopic organisms and even plants. The plow operator is satisfied because the job is done, but is ignorant of the landscape that has been cleared.

As for the Bill Maher clip: The idea of "me too", at first was interesting. It's hard to speak up and accuse, with all the shame and doubt that accompanies that act (believe me). But then the whole thing became hysterical. Where are the rights of the accused? Who is safe in a universe where accusation equals guilt?

I think the 'Me Too' movement got so extreme that it lost its validity. Women (and children) will still be abused in private and their charges will not be believed, in most cases, because that's the way it's always been. And, of course, power prevails.

I won't bring up personal experience, which lends passion to my argument. But be assured that stereotype has rarely worked in my favor, and almost always has been unfair and infuriating.

So, @alexander.alexis, we disagree about stereotypes. They are, in my opinion, not useful in any meaningful way, and they can be quite harmful.

I can't wait to read Part II. :) I'm sure it will be equally interesting and (for me) provocative.
Have a peaceful Sunday.

Ah and I wanted to ask you about that Bill Maher clip I linked to in the conclusion section. What are your thoughts on that? You are uniquely positioned to answer because you're older than my generation, but at the same time you're very modern (you are blogging on a blockchain, after all!) And it's also funny to watch!

I am older...you're right. I think you're younger than my children :) But, happily, I'm not stereotyped by my age (ha ha). Neither my imagination nor my desire to learn has waned with the passing years.
Used to watch Bill Maher all the time. Recently I think he's become a bit mainstream for me, if you can believe that. Almost predictable.
But that was an interesting clip...especially the part about the 'snowflake generation'. I've seen several generations come and go, so to me it's just transient style. One advantage of age :)

I went to a college where I was told that gender is a social construct, nature doesn't matter at all, that there's really no difference between men and women ...

The exaggeration has been necessary in times when there has already been an exaggerated social model of man and woman: Marriage in connection with the lack of women's property rights. I suspect that the radical feminists did not think at all about the biological nature of the sexes, it was rather a liberation movement. I would therefore also sign this sentence and ad "there are no differences in being human, neither among the sexes nor among the races."

I don't have the notion that I have been lied to, no matter what revolution puts its messages out. There is always the Hintergedanke, that it can't be that simple as it often is described or complained about in the media.

There is really no need to misunderstand that. Basically, common sense is sufficient to recognise social inequality, whether between genders or cultures.

Otherwise, for me the difference between the sexes is an observed fact, and the cutbacks I make in stereotyping, when I move in the social circle, I make in all forms where I encounter clichés that seem excessive to me. I simply correct this internally when I listen to someone who typifies. Sometimes you have to consider eighty to ninety percent of a conversation as typifying or superficial and just remember or listen to the rest - or even only pick up the underlying message.

I have fallen for myself often enough or have typified where I personally have a story that was either stressful or idealizing. Anyway, one doesn't need to believe most of what one thinks. HaHa! Many of my own assessments and evaluations have turned out to be wrong or rather obstructive, so that over the years I have become more cautious with them.

I can't say why the whole gender issue is still hot. I think it has to do with an interest in people in themselves.

Differences are usually something good, I think. To marginalize these differences is probably more of a difficult habit. I think there are two things that have nothing in common. The gender difference and the equality of people don't have to be brought into opposition. But this was and still is done and we see how little it benefits.

Your and other contributions will hopefully help to ensure that gender differences are neither exaggerated nor underestimated. As always, it depends on the individual case you have in front of you. It is to be assumed that especially in groups the person who leads the group understands this artfully and understands to lead all male and all female participants in their individuality instead of using the same comb. Hopefully people in leading positions will realize how much more fun it is to work with groups when they use other methods and inspirations. Which are available. But I guess for the rest everyone has to seek their own inspirational path in order to gain more then the average.

Looking forward to part 2 of this theme.
Greetings to Cyprus.

I can't say why the whole gender issue is still hot. I think it has to do with an interest in people in themselves.

It's a very hot issue in the US, and it therefore spills out into Europe as well. Many say it (i.e. political correctness) is one of the main reasons Trump got elected. The Bill Maher clip I linked to in the conclusion section is funny and it's about that general issue.

The gender difference and the equality of people don't have to be brought into opposition.

Agreed!

Greetings to Germany!

It's swimming season here now!

I watched the clip and read the explanation about the Snowflake generation. Again, I don't think it's that easy to generalize the generations. A lot of things seemed to me to be right while reading and I could confirm in parts that the resilience and the acceptance of people to face the imponderables of life courageously has decreased due to the amenities of modern existence. I rather wonder whether these are not always strong collective mental constructions. Again and again I come back to the individual case, which simply does not want to fit into a stereotyping. Even without a clear definition, it seems clear to all of us that we do recognize when human exceptions to innovation and behavior present themselves to us: as unusual and in part provocative. Only in the interaction with a person who you perceive as adapted and corresponding to a type can you see whether a deviation from the typical can be influenced. My conviction is that if I myself am trapped in typical behaviour and reaction patterns, the interaction does not produce anything new and I and my counterpart remain "true" to our type. In a way, we have also chosen or accustomed ourselves to "playing" it ourselves. To choose another character and consciously keep it is like a play in which you have to discipline yourself to be someone completely different and yet integrate that part in such a way that it can become a constant part of the personality. So I don't see it as a compliment if someone who has known me for a long time would tell me: You haven't changed at all!

From this point of view, my female gender seems to me to be of little importance, it is only one of many facets.

There are always problems when I exaggerate or understate an identification that I consider significant.

That was a fun read. I was wondering what the d metric is. (I am pretty sure it is not the D metric I know since that is a generalised metric which wouldn't make sense for any practical testing)

Stereotypes are a pain… especially those days. It is crazy how one generalizes so easily. Writing this sentence (after reading the first few sentences of your post), I was thinking about machine learning at the same time… The entire world is currently mostly about generalization without most of the time even trying to understand how they arise. People just assume it works (which may be true for quantitative sciences, although I am very sceptical as most of the results still often come with any error bar…

I will never understand a lot of these feminists’ speeches (I get in contact with some of them once in a while in my daily life). Men and women are biologically different. That is a fact. And then? Okay, differences can arise in some domains more than in others, and this is interesting to study. And inversely, there may be domains where it is impossible to point anything different. But then?

Generalizations make (our brain's) life easier! I remember a story about a person who was blind from birth and then an operation gave him vision. Every time he saw his dog he was shocked, because every little difference in angle and posture made it look like a new dog!

I believe generalizations make life manageable. But, like all things, it can be overdone.

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A great top*c you've chosen :) I can't wait to read the next article. In two months maybe? :D

I was put through that system that you talked about, the snowflake factory, you know, I went to a college where I was told that gender is a social construct, nature doesn't matter at all, that there's really no difference between men and women — I'm sorry, that's just ... those are myths, okay? And that's the lie that the sexual revolution sold to women.

Well, I have never ever believed that women and men are the same. I remember I've told you in another discussion that that is something that I don't like about feminism and that I don't use this word to define myself. I do believe that men and women should be equal in their civil rights, etc. but biologically there are some differences. Which I find to be great and exciting :)

BUT, in Bill Maher's quote, I find another generalization. There are biological differences for sure. For example, schizophrenia starts rather earlier in men - usually in puberty. On the other hand, it starts later for women - usually around their 30s. And here is the cumulative effect of differences. Women with schizophrenia usually have a better social adaptation than men. However, this is not biologically determined, but rather culturally. Usually, women have already started a family in their 30s and have better support with the disorder. While men stay with their parental family and are more often institutionalized after their parents' death (there is no one to look after them).

Besides the biological differences, there are certainly cultural differences that emerge as a result of our own stereotypic behavior toward men and women.

And that's where the mess begins. Feminists are partly correct and so are the neurobiologists. There are biological differences that we as society can not change and there are cultural differences that we as societycan change. Gender is a social construct (to some extent). And a biological construct (to some extent).

So, to me, the big question is where the biological construct ends and where the social construct begins.

:)

In two months maybe? :D

Noo! Think positive!

For example, schizophrenia starts rather earlier in men - usually in puberty. On the other hand, it starts later for women - usually around their 30s. And here is the cumulative effect of differences. Women with schizophrenia usually have a better social adaptation than men. However, this is not biologically determined, but rather culturally. Usually, women have already started a family in their 30s and have better support with the disorder. While men stay with their parental family and are more often institutionalized after their parents' death (there is no one to look after them).

This is one of the reasons I'm a feminist, and I try hard to explain to my male peers who are often very dismissive of feminism. In other words, cultural differences very often favor women. Examples are easy to find, like even today in most countries the courts will favor the mother in terms of who gets the child after a divorce.

For some reason most men think of feminism as trying to gain more rights for women, when in fact real feminism is about creating a more just society for both sexes. Or at least it should be. It's true that I don't often hear feminists talking about injustices against males. Eh...almost never. But instead of blaming the (usually female) feminists about that, let's have more men become feminists! Just like female feminists needed to raise male consciousness about certain things, the same needs to be done the other way around too. Women, I find, are often quite clueless about what it's like being a man, whereas men know quite a lot about women now because of how prevalent their issues are in the media, all kinds of media, from books to movies, everywhere you look really.

For some reason most men think of feminism as trying to gain more rights for women, when in fact real feminism is about creating a more just society for both sexes. Or at least it should be. (...) Women, I find, are often quite clueless about what it's like being a man, whereas men know quite a lot about women now because of how prevalent their issues are in the media, all kinds of media, from books to movies, everywhere you look really.

This is a very interesting perspective and I think that you are quite right about it.

It's true that I don't often hear feminists talking about injustices against males.

It's definitely true! And this is another thing I don't like about this narrow understanding of feminism - acting like a victim who has the whole world against her/him and not taking into account their own discriminative behavior. I couldn't agree more that it is quite hypocritical if one demands respect for the rights of only part of the population. What about the rest? They don't deserve/need their rights fought for? If you fight for human rights you should respect all humans, not only half of them, right?

It's funny that I had a similar conversation with my husband three days ago who argued that it is extremely difficult to be a white (Caucasian) male nowadays :) Everyone is trying to accuse you into some kind of discrimination :D

Oh, by the way, this link "The science and politics of comparing women and men" doesn't work.

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