Are Gender Stereotypes True?

Aggression. Rape. Murder. Dominance. With which gender do you associate those words? One more question: does that make you sexist? I don’t think so. Tune into this week’s Love U Podcast to hear why men and women are different and how stereotypes don’t apply to everyone.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Theodora

    I think that even the most radical blank-slate equalists somehow know, even when they lie themselves and others, that “gender stereotypes” are generally true and are rooted in biology and evolution.

    The problem is that it is politically correct to acknowledge the negative traits of men/masculinity, but never their qualities, and to acknowledge the positive traits of women/feminity, but never their flaws and shortcomings.

    One obvious example is given in this podcast: yes, men are naturally more violent than women, but also naturally better at programming and other analytical sciences/tasks.

    Other examples: yes, mostly due to testosterone, men are risk-takers and that is one of the causes of wars and financial crises, but risk-taking is also the force that created civillization, innovation, art and technology.

    Another example is one often encountered on dating sites like this (among other places) : to select from traditional masculinity only those parts that benefit women, and to erase what has the slightest potential to benefit men. Smash patriarchy in the workplace, but men have to plan and pay for dates. Check your toxic masculinity, but continue to be protectors and providers. Be vulnerable and do emotional labor (whatever that means) like a woman, but man up and take charge like a man. And so on and so forth, while it’s sexist to tell women to be anything whatsoever, because they can be whoever and whatever they want (be you do you! empowerment!).

    So, I think that the problem is not only acknowledging gender differences, because even blank-slate equalists can do that if they are honest with themselves. The second and more courageous step is to acknowledge some real life consequences and results of those differences – and that’s what James Damore did in his (brilliant, in my opinion) manifesto.

     

     

    1. 1.1
      Gala

      Oh dear buddy Ted…

      James Damore is an idiot who wrote a scientifically false narrative perpetuating harmful stereotypes and in the process blew up his career. His manifesto wouldn’t even pass as “scientific” in the kindergarten where I went to school. The fact that he went to Harvard reflects poorly on that institution, though perhaps he lied about it just as he lied about having a PhD. Multiple actual scientists who actually knew what they were talking about have written detailed rebukes of his manifesto, but of course he’s a hero of fringe “manosphere” so of course you would find it “brilliant”. 

      And, men are NOT better at programming. Programming is not a rocket science it is in fact a relatively easy analytical task that anybody with a few months of training can perform.

      Be vulnerable and do emotional labor (whatever that means) like a woman, but man up and take charge like a man. And so on and so forth, while it’s sexist to tell women to be anything whatsoever,

      Wake up buddy! Women are already doing all of those things. Women already are students, breadwinners, providers, caretakers, mothers, “emotional laborers” etc. Every freaking woman I know is a one-man show, miss self-sufficient. It’s the men who are failing to keep up. Why is it so hard for you guys to be a man without being a dick?  

      1. 1.1.1
        Callie

        “And, men are NOT better at programming. Programming is not a rocket science it is in fact a relatively easy analytical task that anybody with a few months of training can perform.”

        And after all, a woman is considered the first computer programmer . . . https://www.biography.com/people/ada-lovelace-20825323

        But there’s really no point in debating with Ted. A man so cowardly to hide behind a gender not his own and pretend to being from a country not his own in order to put forth hate and fallacious reasoning is really not someone worth spending time engaging with. And certainly not one who’s mind will ever be changed no matter how factly correct or reasonably expressed an argument presented to him may be.

      2. 1.1.2
        Yet Another Guy

        @Gala

        Programming is not a rocket science it is in fact a relatively easy analytical task that anybody with a few months of training can perform.

        I have to call you on this one.  I have been a software and hardware design engineer for well over thirty years.  Writing simple code is a simple task; however, writing complex code is not a simple task.  It takes talent and enormous attention to detail.

        1. Gala

          I reckon that only a very small percentage of programmers on the forefront of innovation are doing something that requires real talent, imagination, and capacity to invent new things and concepts. The vast majority of people in this profession are solving simple analytical tasks with programming languages and a set of algorithms that anyone who has enough IQ for a 4-year college can learn.

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Gala

          The vast majority of people in this profession are solving simple analytical tasks with programming languages and a set of algorithms that anyone who has enough IQ for a 4-year college can learn.

          That is part of why there is such a high dropout rate.  I was on the bleeding edge of technology for the first twenty years of my career.  I then spent several years reverse-engineering other products such as the NT Kernel in order to gain undocumented knowledge that could be used in system management products.  Reverse-engineering requires a mindset that very few people possess (I have yet to encounter a female engineer who was involved in reverse engineering).  It is one thing to be able grasp an algorithm from reading high-level source code, and an entirely different thing to grasp an algorithm from reading compiler-optimized machine code.  There are no friendly variable and subroutine names, and many variables are held in registers because they were optimized by the compiler. It takes quite a bit of mental gymnastics to track algorithm and machine state.

        3. Alex

          @Gala

          If you’re talking about simple programming, then sure it’s no big deal. This is why people say the H-1B visa is for cheap labor. People from other countries who have this experience come here, make something like 70k a year or higher and expect to live like kings. Of course they don’t, because cost of living is so high and they work so many hours. On top of that you have companies, like Amazon, with the reputation for working these people for a few years until they burn out. The offices that do this aren’t located in SV, they’re in places like New Jersey, so it’s not as visible.

          If you’re doing what I suspect YAG does, you’re making major architectural and design decisions everyday and connecting disparate systems to each other. That’s the hard part. As he said, it’s great if you love it. But there are a lot of places across the country where the working conditions are subpar. I myself am having eye problems at the ripe old age of 27. So unless it’s something you really, really want to do, women (especially women with social skills and a brain) might have, as you  said, “greener pastures” they can explore.

        4. Gala

          YAG, Alex:

          I hear you. Yes I was thinking strictly about office environment. during my years in IT I only worked in typical office environment, which was not any different really than non-IT offices. Sometimes we had shared 2 people offices, sometimes we had cubes. Luckily i quit before open space really took hold and worked my way up so I never had to work in it. It is the worst concept ever and whoever invented it needs to be taken out and shot. It has now infected other non-IT sectors unfortunately. A friend of mine just had her office converted to open space and they were given huge noise cancelling headphones to go with their new desks. How horrible is that? Also, I would say, very female unfriendly. Imagine getting a call from your obgyn while on the open space…

          P.S. YAG: i ended my IT career in 2009. 150K were buying a lot more house back then 🙂

        5. Skaramouche

          @Gala

          Slightly off-topic but in true open spaces, “working your way up” doesn’t mean that you get your own office or that you don’t have to work in the open space.  Then it’s not really an open space…it’s just space saving desks for the plebes, until they get high enough in the food chain.

          I agree that poorly done open spaces are a true nightmare however, that’s not a critique of the concept but rather of the execution.  Like cubicles, open spaces have their own pitfalls but it’s a bit extreme to say the person who thought of them should be shot (yes, I know that’s what all the articles are saying now… :P).  Cubicles were as terrible in their own ways, for different reasons.  I could go on about this forever but I won’t.  As with everything else in life, balance is key.  Open spaces with enough rooms and nooks for quiet time work wonderfully.  They are certainly not perfect.  Then again, neither were the other seating solutions we’ve cycled through until this latest trend.

          Re: getting a call from your ob-gyn, go to a quiet space, to a meeting room or into the hallway.  I think this was a bit tongue-in-cheek but surely you’re not suggesting that the open spaces don’t work for women because they need privacy in which to conduct non-work business?! 😀

        6. Yet Another Guy

          @Skaramouche

          I agree with Gala on “open space” offices.  The person who applied this layout to software development should be shot.  Open space offices have no place in an activity as cerebral as software development.  Attempting to locate a difficult to identify bug such as a priority inversion within code that is executing in parallel while not being able to get into the “zone” is a nightmare.  For those without a background in computer science, a priority inversion occurs when a low priority task indirectly preempts a high priority task, usually by locking a shared resource.   This type of problem can be deadly in a safety-critical embedded system such as an anti-lock brake system or a fly-by-wire system used to manage the control surfaces on a jet.  A jet as aeronautically unstable as the F-117 Nighthawk cannot be flown with0ut a computer to manage the control surfaces.

      3. 1.1.3
        Danaellen

        GAIA,

        Your comment, “Every woman I know is a one-man-show,” should be the title of a book!  Best thing I have read on these posts, ever!

    2. 1.2
      Clare

      Is this the same Theodora who is supposedly an Eastern European woman? If so, I still think that you’re an American man.

       

      But anyway, be that as it may, my problem with you hiding behind an inaccurate pseudonym does not preclude me from kind of agreeing with you. You have political correctness to thank for the dialogue that you’re referring to about men and women. It’s ok to talk about toxic masculinity and how downtrodden women are, but not so much ok to talk about the virtues of masculinity and the way in which men sometimes suffer because of pro-women ways of thinking. I’m not a feminist or a men’s rights advocate – I just think we should be able to have open discussions about issues without one side feeling like they have to cower and apologise and virtue signal for even bringing up an unpopular topic.

       

      I hate political correctness. I don’t think it does anything at all to deal with genuine sexism or racism – all it does is make people terrified of opening their mouths and waste worthless hours on crap like dissecting benign advertisements, rather than addressing real issues.

       

      Anyway, yes Theodora, men should be able to talk about their rights and about what’s great about being a man every bit as much as women can. We should be able to celebrate the differences between the sexes and find common ground between us. Chivalry should be something to be appreciated and praised, just as women want to be appreciated and praised for what they bring to a relationship.

      1. 1.2.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        If you saw Theodora’s email address, you’d see that she is, in fact, an Eastern European woman.

        Callie, you need to back off on the personal attacks. Theodora can be a blunt instrument but she didn’t say anything “wrong.” The fact that the first computer programmer was a woman doesn’t say anything as to whether women and men have the same abilities when it comes to tech. That’s like saying the best astronauts are canines because a Russian dog went into space first.

        If you want to be part of a “reasonable” argument, it would behoove you to lay off insults and stick with logic and science. Between you and Theodora, she is the only one who is doing so.

        1. Clare

          Evan,

           

          With the greatest respect, my name is Clare, not Callie.

           

          If you say Theodora is an Eastern European woman, I’m sure she is. I simply said I doubted her identity, not that I knew for certainty.

           

          Secondly, I was agreeing with Theodora. Did you miss that part?

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Scroll up an inch. I was responding to Callie. I just did it on the wrong thread. Jeez.

        3. Callie

          Have no fear Evan, I’m leaving. Having read your comments in this thread and your lovely comment to me comparing a woman to a dog, I realise now that though I always thought we fundamentally had things in common despite some surface differences, I was wrong.

          Yay, you won’t have to put up with me anymore. Bye!

           

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          I thought of deleting this, but changed my mind, specifically because it exonerates my entire frustration with our “conversation.”

          I used a metaphor explaining why your mention of the first programmer being a woman is irrelevant to a discussion about whether men and women are different.

          Your response was that I “compared a woman to a dog.”

          Hmm. You can give my imperfect metaphor to 100 different people and not a one would suggest that I’m comparing women to dogs.

          Which says a lot about how you argue – it’s not a fair fight if you’re going to go twist my words in a way they are surely not intended.

          Thus, to counter your final point: I’m sure we have plenty in common, Callie.

          Unfortunately, the ability to discuss differences of opinion without straw man or ad hominem attacks are not one of those things.

          Good luck to you. I’m sure you’re a good person, no matter what you think about me.

        5. Clare

          Sorry, Evan, if my response was a bit heavy-handed, but I thought you were being heavy-handed with me.

           

          Misunderstanding resolved.

        6. Theodora

          I don’t understand what is so outrageous about dogs and dog analogies. In my next life, I want to incarnate myself in a Border Collie.

    3. 1.3
      Sum Guy

      There are some physical objective statistics that “on average” men are more likely to be one way or women another and vice versa.

       

      Those are limited and generally rather meaningless to most discussions.   Also in many cases, exceptions are common enough that such averages can be near meaningless in a practical day-to-day sense.   That is, an average quality between men and women may differ, but if the 1 standard deviation variances overlap  greatly this is an “average” difference with little meaning.

       

      Statistics are even of more limited value when the statistical distribution is not normal, and even less when the shapes of the distributions between the two sexes differs.

       

      You start adding in statistics that have a confounding cultural dimension and they become even less useful.

  2. 2
    Sum Guy

    Stereotypes or statistics?  There’s a difference.  Is it  a simple number where a distribution may be more appropriate?  Most simple numbers only have qualitative meaning implied by the quantitative number where the distribution is normal (e.g. Gaussian), most societal measures are not so simple.

     

    As critical thinking, especially around statistics, how they are generated, and the limitations of them are in short supply, forming any stereotype based on them is a slippery slope.  It’s a slippery slope to justify prejudice…that is to pre-judge someone and serves as a confirmation bias filter on reality.

  3. 3
    Gala

    Evan, I implore you to read this excellent point by point analysis of Damore’s manifesto which was written by an actual scientist with the real, not imaginary, PhD in evolutionary biology from Harvard

    https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-biological-claims-made-in-the-document-about-diversity-written-by-a-Google-employee-in-August-2017/answer/Suzanne-Sadedin

    or this:

    https://www.quora.com/Was-Google-right-or-wrong-in-firing-James-Damore-for-his-controversial-diversity-memo/answer/KG-Tan

    I have read his “memo” in full as well and in my opinion it doesn’t even raise to the level of junk science, it is a failed attempt at such. The guy just wanted to say “women are dumber than men” and though he could get away with it if he could preface it with “i support diversity” and dress it with a bunch of charts and Wikipedia links.  To argue that women have different preferences is one thing. To argue that they have different cognitive abilities is another, and it is the latter that really is the problem.  Given the state of public discourse this is really not the subject to be taken lightly (and given that Damore has revealed himself as a KKK sympathizer on twitter, neither is he a person one should try to defend or explain).

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Gala, I implore you to read this excellent defense of Damore’s manifesto by Debra Soh, who holds a PhD in sexuality from York University in Canada.

      https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-the-google-manifesto-isnt-sexist-or-anti-diversity-its-science/article35903359/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

      No one is saying women are “dumber” than men. I think we can say that women are smarter than men in many ways. Your stance seems to preclude the possibility that there are potential cognitive differences in gender at all. But, as this podcast points out, there ARE differences between men and women. Yet somehow, it’s become taboo to acknowledge this. It shouldn’t be.

      As the memo very carefully points out, there is a greater range among individuals than populations, which is to say that there are MILLIONS of women who may be taller than men, but that doesn’t mean that, in general, women are taller than men. Is it impossible to consider that different populations have different strengths? Or even if I post 100 more articles by the Debra Sohs of the world, will you still disagree because it doesn’t confirm what you want to believe. I’m no scientist. In fact, I have no horse in the race except to have an honest, reality-based conversation. That’s why I share Soh’s words with you since you probably won’t click on my link above:

      “Of course, differences exist at the individual level, and this doesn’t mean environment plays no role in shaping us. But to claim that there are no differences between the sexes when looking at group averages, or that culture has greater influence than biology, simply isn’t true.

      In fact, research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.

      As the memo suggests, seeking to fulfill a 50-per-cent quota of women in STEM is unrealistic. As gender equity continues to improve in developing societies, we should expect to see this gender gap widen.

      This trend continues into the area of personality, as well. Contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.

      Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isn’t the result of knowing facts; it’s the result of what people choose to do with them.

      1. 3.1.1
        Gala

        I have read it and I wondered whether Ms. Sohn came to regret writing it before she could carefully consider the actual content of the memo. Her response mentions the same studies that the “manifesto” referenced but somehow does NOT mention studies that found the opposite to be true (i am puzzled by this cherry picking). Additionally, Ms. Sohn fails to address the most important point: yes there’re studies that illustrate differences between men and women. Nobody has actually disputed that. But those differences simply can’t be used to explain the staggering difference in outcomes as personified by the tech industry’s meager track record in this department. It is this unsubstantiated leap that is the problem.

        In fact, Dr. Schmitt, who authored on of the studies that Damore referenced, has written a rebuke stating:

        A Google employee recently shared a memo that referenced some of my scholarly research on psychological sex differences …. But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace. And even if sex differences in negative emotionality were relevant to occupational performance (e.g., not being able to handle stressful assignments), the size of these negative emotion sex differences is not very large (typically, ranging between “small” to “moderate” in statistical effect size terminology; accounting for less than 10% of the variance). So, using someone’s biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people’s personality would be like operating with an axe. Not precise enough to do much good, probably will cause a lot of harm. 

        I am not rallying against science. I am rallying against distorting science to further sexist agenda. This is what that memo was doing. Evan, if you can’t see sexism in Damore’s manifesto, I suggest a mental exercise: re-read the memo substituting “women” for “jews”. Do you see it now? I thought so. Perhaps, this was just REALLY not a good example to use for what could be a light hearted  discussion of gender behavior in the dating context.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          It is not a “sexist agenda” to see where science leads. If 66% of all MIT and CalTech graduate students are men (and they are), wouldn’t it stand to reason that, proportionally, men may make up 66% of Google/Facebook/Apple’s programmers? You bet. That is the crux of Damore’s memo. It shouldn’t be diverse for diversity’s sake; the best programmers regardless of gender should get the job. I don’t see what there is to argue with. So let’s can the idea that calling attention to science statistics is inherently sexist. It’s not.

          By the way, since you brought up the Jewish thing, the (still controversial) science works out the other way. It’s hard to separate nature from nurture, especially when it comes to religion (it’s far easier to talk about biological differences based on gender), but Ashkenazi Jews are certainly more accomplished, on the whole, proportional to their population.

          What does that mean? I don’t know.

          The easy answer is that Jews are insular, stay married and educate their kids. 5000 years of this could be cultural, but it could also be genetic. We don’t know.

          But if I’m a Catholic reading these studies, does that mean that these reports are inherently biased? Trying to “put down” Gentiles? Telling non-Jews that they are incapable of success? No, no and no. Plenty of Jews are stupid. Plenty of Christians are brilliant. Neither precludes the fact that show Ashkenazi Jews to score high on achievement, proportional to their population. Those are numbers. Just like 2/3 of CalTech/MIT grad students are men are numbers. Make of them what you will, but don’t call numbers sexist.

          Finally: Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes: what do they have in common? It’s not a race. It’s not a religion. It’s a gender.

          In my life, I have never heard of a woman who was a serial sexual predator the way we’ve heard about these prominent men in the past year. What does that tell you? It tells me that men and women are different – and when it comes to sexual predation, men are a clear-cut #1.

          So I ask again: are men only different in BAD ways? Or is it in the realm of possibility that men and women are different in many ways, per Dr. Soh’s article? And is it in the realm of possibility that you don’t want to acknowledge that difference as Dr. Soh suggests?

        2. Gala

          And is it in the realm of possibility that you don’t want to acknowledge that difference as Dr. Soh suggests?

          First, I did acknowledge that these differences exist. This is a fact and we have scientific evidence of that. Do those (slight) difference explain the (vast) differences in outcomes? No, they do not. Do you really not see the difference in these points?

          Yes, achieving the 50/50 ratio is not realistic when we have a lopsided pipeline. But WHY do we have this lopsided pipeline? Is it, possibly, because we as a society have actively discouraged women from participating in these fields? Recall: women were actually the majority of early programmers. It wasn’t until this area became lucrative that men “moved in” and established their “bro culture” which is what we’re dealing with today. There’s ample research that shows people will do worse in fields when they’re told that they are less capable in those fields. So, it is time we stop telling girls they’re less capable in math or programming. Just, please stop this b/s. They are not.

          Now to be fully honest, and if we’re going to make it into the whole battle of the sexes thing, I would assign the blame for this sad state of affairs equally to both men and women. It is not men’s fault that girls don’t enter STEM fields. It is these girl’s parent’s fault. As women, and as mothers, we have the power to change that. Rather than participating in useless affinity groups, we should teach our daughters how to code and buy them robot tool kits instead of overpriced outfit for their American Girl. Seriously. If we, as women, want our daughters to do well in life, we should push them towards moneyed occupations and cultivate appropriate interests. We should raise future engineers and business women, not future instagram models and professional shoppers. Girls are capable. Are their parents – that is the question… And yes, in these male dominated (for now) fields, our girls will encounter James Damores. And we should teach them to punch back at those ass-clowns (figuratively speaking), not recoil and quit.

          And for the whole Jewish thing, I think you’re purposefully missing my point. Had Damore written this memo about any other group but women, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. At all. He would be condemned by everybody as antisemitic or racist. I don’t think I need to remind you, Evan, that despite their significant achievements and talents, in this very country, Jews were simply not hired in a number of white shoe firms (let’s not name names) as recently as 40 years ago. Stereotypes are harmful, period, full stop. And if you begin to endorse them and apply them, it becomes a slippery slope very fast.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          Stereotypes are not harmful, period, full stop. Stereotypes are based on observation and have a strong basis in truth.

          The danger of stereotyping is in assuming ALL people are the same. NO ONE is claiming that (straw man argument!). I am simply stating that stereotypes (or if you prefer a fancier term: heuristics) are commonplace shortcuts that people routinely make because there is ample evidence for them.

          Go volunteer at a kindergarten and watch the boys and girls play. Then tell me if boys penchant for fighting and disruption is just some relic of the 1950’s. It’s not.

          Fact: Men make up 93% of the prison population. Do you think it’s because their parents bought into gender stereotypes? Or is it maybe because men have more testosterone than women? Which do you think it is? And do you think that this is a “slight” difference or a “big” difference? Think of all the violence, the rape, the war perpetrated by men. Is that just a mothering thing? C’mon. You know better.

          As a coach for women, a liberal, a feminist, and as father of a daughter, I have no patience to be called sexist merely for pointing out that men and women (and boys and girls) are DIFFERENT.

          If my daughter wants to be an engineer, you can be sure I’ll do everything in my power to help her succeed. But if she chooses to be a chef (her current inclination at age 6), I’m not going to push her into STEM because “equality”. And if my son (age 5) stays on his current course, he will likely become an engineer (a skill that I certainly don’t have – just proving that not ALL men are mechanically inclined and that we’re talking about POPULATIONS, not individuals here).

          Moral of the story: I stand by the biological fact that men and women are different. I believe women have every right to choose whatever career they want. I believe there is institutional sexism but that it doesn’t entirely account for the male/female ratio at CalTech/MIT/Google. I believe that diversity is a good, but not if it means a company is taking a 65th percentile woman engineer over a 90th percentile male engineer just to balance the scales.

          You are entitled to disagree. You are not entitled to call me stupid because I can dispassionately point out these statistics without having a horse in the race. My true north is truth, not feelings. That’s why I engage in these discussions and have so much trouble with the Trump era. I’m glad to admit that I’m wrong if I’m proven wrong; I have a really hard time when someone fights facts with feelings. Your posts are animated by your rightful anger at sexism. That doesn’t mean that there are no differences between men and women.

          I’m done arguing for the day – especially since your well-worded posts ignore the primary point of the original podcast: there is truth in stereotypes. Whether you choose to deny what everyone can see is entirely up to you. To me, it’s painful to lie – about the tooth fairy, about magical tax cuts that enrich the poor, and about the observable world, where men are WAY more likely to become rapists and murderers, women are WAY more likely to become kindergarten teachers, and (for example) men care about youth and beauty and women care about height and income.

          The many exceptions don’t disprove the rule. The rule is just a stereotype.

        4. Jeremy

           

          The other day I was picking up my 5 year old daughter from her kindergarten class.  I noticed that her female kindergarten teacher was giving all the kids hugs as they put on their coats and left the class.  The thought that went through my mind was that a male teacher doing that would be arrested.  Why would he be arrested?  Because people believe that men who hug kids are much more likely to be pedophiles because a few men are pedophiles.  Because that’s how heuristics work.

           

          It might be true that men are far more likely to be pedophiles than women….but the overwhelming majority of men are not pedophiles.  Yet we think based on stereotypes, heuristics.  We are poor intuitive statisticians, even if we are actual statisticians!

           

          It is true that, statistically, Ashkenazic Jews are more likely to be more accomplished than average – as someone who is Ashkenazic Jewish, I’ve both benefited and been harmed by this stereotype.  But the question is not whether this statistic is correct, it’s what are people going to DO with this statistic?

           

          I’ll tell you what they’ll do.  They’ll assume that all Ashkenazic Jews are in some way accomplished/privileged.  How’s that working out for us?

        5. Jeremy

          As an addendum, Evan is definitely right that there is often no harm in stereotypes because they are the way humans have evolved to think.  They give us a place to start when we don’t know anything else about a situation.  Without them we’d be lost.  But it’s important, IMHO, to choose which stereotypes are useful and which ones less so.  Some of you may have observed that I sometimes talk about men or women generally being a certain way – a stereotype!  And although I’m cognizant of exceptions and errors, the usefulness of those stereotypes IMHO is to give people a place to start in their relationships as they begin to fine-tune from the general to the specific.  But when it comes to job preferences, I worry that the stereotypes may cause more harm than good.

        6. Gala

          Stereotypes are not harmful, period, full stop. Stereotypes are based on observation and have a strong basis in truth.

          Evan, just because they’re based on observation doesn’t mean that they’re not harmful. With all due respect. Stereotypes lead to biases, which lead to discrimination.  You say:

           My true north is truth, not feelings. 

          Very well. Then, you may want to familiarize yourself with research done by Prof. Steele of Stanford U, who came up with the terms “stereotype threat”:

          “Stereotype threat occurs when individuals whose group is targeted by negative stereotypes try to excel at tasks that are related to the stereotype. In these situations, simply knowing that there is a stereotype against them (a stereotype that says they should perform poorly on a particular task) can lead individuals to actually perform more poorly on the task than they otherwise would.”

          Lots of interesting research has been done with various groups and various stereotypes on this subject

          https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/exploring-negative-consequences-stereotyping

          And men in prisons? Certainly I don’t think we should teach young boys that they’re naturally more predisposed to end up in jail any more so than we should teach young girls that they’re less predisposed to do math. This is kind of a moot point.

          So yes, we may agree to disagree on whether stereotypes are harmful or not, but I’d say when it comes to truth, i am the one who has it behind me on this one. But yeah, I am done arguing on this also.

           

        7. Evan Marc Katz

          You don’t have to teach young boys that they’re naturally more predisposed to end up in jail. They ARE.

          I’m not denying the bigotry of low expectations – for women, for African-Americans. I’m not denying institutional sexism or racism either.

          I’m ONLY pointing out that this doesn’t begin to explain EVERYTHING and that perhaps there ARE differences.

          So while I’m validating your point, you still haven’t addressed mine: is the reason 93% of the prison population is male because of negative stereotypes, or is it because men and women are different? And if that’s the case, isn’t it possible that the ratio of engineers at MIT or Google is not merely due to sexism?

          I would like to hear your reply to that. Because it’s frustrating to concede your point, only to have you ignore and dismiss mine, despite the fact that I’m not saying anything rash or controversial here.

        8. Gala

          Evan:

          is the reason 93% of the prison population male because of negative stereotypes

          I believe to a large degree, yes it is. Of course it is. I am not sure how much you want me to mull on this subject. Let’s dig this one a bit deeper. Not only the prison population 93% male, it is also 40% black (when blacks are only what – 16% of the general population?). Should we argue that black men are innately different from white men? Come on now. Lots of stereotypes and biases in play here, I would think, and it relates to both these men (perhaps their unfortunate life choices were influenced by cultural stereotypes of what constitutes “manly” behavior and occupations) and the law enforcement and the legal system that is more likely to railroad them.

           

           

        9. Evan Marc Katz

          Blacks have 200+ years of racism/slavery that created economic imbalance. Violent men are not living up to low societal expectations. They’re just violent.

          You’re a bright woman but I’m amazed that you can’t concede that men are more violent and sex-driven than women. It’s almost like a climate change denier; how much evidence do you need to overcome your desire for it not to be true?

        10. Gala

          Ok, Evan, I am a little lost as to what we’re talking about. I can agree with the statement that “men commit more violent crimes than women”. That is a fact just as “there are more male engineers than female engineers”. However, I would not want to sign my name under the statement claiming that the main reason for that is innate, biological, or, put differently, that men are hard wired from birth to be “bad” – rather than conditioned by society and pushed by their circumstances.  There’s a huge leap from a boys quarrel to leading the life of crime, so I probably wouldn’t stereotype based on kindergarten observations either. Perhaps there’s research that shows that it is in fact true, but I am not familiar with it. So, I chose to not stereotype men either.. hope this answers it.

        11. Evan Marc Katz

          Fair enough, Gala. Thanks for your contributions. We are on the same team.

          I am just a professional devil’s advocate who tries to challenge men and women to acknowledge the validity of the other side.

          I agree that women have many things stacked against them to be remedied; my only assertion is that these systemic problems may not explain the gender gap in its entirety.

          Food for thought…

        12. Sum Guy

          Gala,

          I agree with you here, on Danmore, and below.  Especially on stereotypes.  Looking at just the graduation rate at MIT and CalTech doesn’t mean there is not gender bias/inequality there or in the various secondary schools and culture that funnels people to STEM schools.   I think there is and have plenty of antidotes from women who have experienced it.

           

          I want to pick up on the 93% thing here as I think you are getting at the same thing I am.  To follow, but addressed to Evan.

           

           

        13. Sum Guy

          Evan,

          You mentioned to Gala:You’re a bright woman but I’m amazed that you can’t concede that men are more violent and sex-driven than women. It’s almost like a climate change denier; how much evidence do you need to overcome your desire for it not to be true?”

           

          What evidence do you need to see that stereotyping from statistics is problematic at best?   Please consider this.

           

          If you want to make an argument men are more violent than women, I presume based on incarceration statistics (as the 93% statistic lines up with % of inmates in the US that are male) then at least go to the data.

          I’ll use just US data.  Please forgive the snark that creeps in but it is more intended to show that at every level here there are assumptions being made.  Yet I will accept the data as is and err on the side of men being more violent.  

          (We can argue later about what classifies as violent, versus bad aggressive, versus good aggressive, versus proactive, etc.  But I think we all agree that conviction for a violent crime is violent; especially as that is the apparent basis for the 93% statistic.)

          All the information is from these three sites.

          https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Prison_populations

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_States

           

          Preliminaries:

          US second or largest per capita incarceration rate in the world, depending on the year.  So we are the first or second most criminal people in the world.  I mean clearly. (that’s snark)  Or maybe we are just really good at maintaining order. (more snark). 

          Regardless, let’s take use the US incarceration data.

          Depending on the year about: Inmates ~2.5 million (prisons, jails, etc.), on parole ~ 5 million

          (I will assume that there are just as many violent criminals among paroles as inmates)

          Now how many of those people have a violent offense

          Let’s use federal BOP statistics because they usually have worse offenders.  From the BOP statistics I would count as violent: (g) Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses; (k) Robbery; (l) Sex Offenses; (m) Weapons, Explosives, Arson

          That’s 33.2% of offenses.

           

          I want to include more, so if you also include (b) Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses; (f) Extortion, Fraud, Bribery

           

          44.3% of offenses are “violent.”

           

          The rest?   Mostly drugs, yep we still got lots of people in for just drugs.   Surprisingly, 7.8% of offense were immigration (don’t get me wrong, I do not believe illegal immigrants are some danger, but this is one statistic that people who do point to).  We won’t even touch the racial disparity in incarceration.

           

          Now for US population, round numbers but they don’t change too much, I erred on the lower side.

          Total population ~300 million, adult population 228 million, about half are male, adult male population 114 million.

           

          So let’s determine the percentage of the adult US male population that are violent criminals.

          7.5 million are criminals, 93% are male.  So 6.975 million male criminals.  44.3% of these offenses are violent, so 3.09 million violent male criminals.

          There are roughly 114 million adult males in the US, that means 2.7% of adult US males are violent criminals. Or over 93% of adult US males are not.

           

          Let’s assume that only 1 in 10 violent adult US males ever make it into the system or that they are violent but not in a criminal enough manner, so this assumption leads to the proposition that 27% of adult US males are violent. Or 73% adult US males are not violent.

           

          So even worse case, 73-93% of men are not violent.  The statistic is that more violent criminals are men than women.    That is, when men go bad they are more likely to do so violently than women.   It does not follow that men as a gender (that other 73-93%) are more violent than women as a gender.  Law abiding men and women are both likely equally non-violent.  

          A stereotype that men are more violent implies that most or a good portion of men are violent, when the reality is most likely that greater than 90% of men are not.

           

          All I’m saying is look at the details.  Look at primary references.   No matter how you cut it to call men a violent gender is unfair to the vast majority of men.   Here’s some snark, do you include black and hispanic men in your men are more violent stereotype, they are more than adequately represented in this data?

           

          You can also use my above arguments when you start hearing people talk about how black and hispanics make up over 70% of the prison population, or that almost 8% of the inmates are illegal aliens, and thus all sorts of discrimination is justified. 

          They don’t believe or they are not going to believe that all of that difference is due to racism.   Even if you agree with them that none of it is due to racism, their argument is still BS because that still leaves the vast majority of blacks, hispanics and illegal immigrants as law abiding citizens. 

          If you still believe cavalierly saying statistics show men are more violent than women is “just the facts” or “things we all know” and does no harm, just put out a blog post that black men are more likely than white men to commit a violent crime (it is a statistic from the same data set) then ask your black male friends if it does no harm. 

          Even if white males may never suffer from unjust laws, giving credence to the view that statistics can be used this way is bad.  It aids and abetts a system of thought that has been and will be used unjustly (unless you trust Mr. Trump and his base) and the reason it can be so readily misused is because it is not based on a scientific or statistically sound reasoning.

          P.S. You may wonder how I have all this handy, it’s because the same data and flawed reasoning is being used to justify racial profiling and immigration “reform” which I have been working against.

           

           

        14. Evan Marc Katz

          Again, you’re a bright guy with good values. This just isn’t a sound argument. It twists everything into something unrecognizable from my original two arguments:

          1. Men and women are different.
          2. Stereotypes are often true.

          Your whole diatribe, accusing me of saying that “men are a violent gender” when 73-93% of them are non-violent completely misses the point.

          Here is the point:

          2011 arrest data from the FBI:[43]

          Males were convicted of the vast majority of homicides in the United States, representing 90.5% of the total number of offenders
          Males constituted 98.9% of those arrested for forcible rape
          Males constituted 87.9% of those arrested for robbery
          Males constituted 85.0% of those arrested for burglary
          Males constituted 83.0% of those arrested for arson.
          Males constituted 81.7% of those arrested for vandalism.
          Males constituted 81.5% of those arrested for motor-vehicle theft.
          Males constituted 79.7% of those arrested for offenses against family and children.
          Males constituted 77.8% of those arrested for aggravated assault.

          This isn’t a case of sexism. This isn’t a case of bias. These are overwhelming raw numbers that illustrate that men are more violent than women, no matter how hard you try to deny it. Even when you consider mitigating factors (from the same Wiki page): “Cultural interpretations have ‘enhanced’ evolutionarily based sex differences by a process of imposition which stigmatizes the expression of aggression by females and causes women to offer exculpatory (rather than justificatory) accounts of their own aggression.”, guess what: you’re still left with “evolutionary based sex differences.”

          You may attempt to explain away the above with some societal prejudice/statistical rant, but you’re swimming upstream. It’s not that all men are violent. It’s that the people who commit violent crimes almost always happen to be men. This is a stereotype that, no matter how you slice it, is based on truth, not rumor or hyperbole.

          I thank you for engaging me allowing me to make my case even stronger through this dialogue.

      2. 3.1.2
        Theodora

        There is truth in the fact that in liberal, prosperous societies the gender gap can widen in some fields because people can follow the professions  they enjoy, unlike in autocratic, poor societies.

        Before the fall of the Berlin wall, Communist governments in my part of the world used to brag about the high numbers of female engineers, scientists and doctors, higher than in many Western countries. “We have achieved true equality for women”, they boasted.

        The truth is that engineers and doctors were among the few occupations respected and relatively well-paid during Communism, and among the few where people had the opportunity to leave the country (a scholarship, a grant, an international conference in a Western country and you could ask political asylum or claim refugee status). So, women had to study hard for professions they didn’t necessarily enjoy  to get out of poverty and hopefully to leave the Communist Paradise one day.

        I know a couple of women who left high-paying jobs as engineers in the early 90’s, after the fall of Communism, because they hated their professions. One of them was a former boss who left a safe, low-stress engineer job to become a less paid, less stable, less paid journalist as soon as she had the opportunity to choose.

        1. Gala

          The monetary incentives are exactly the same in the U.S. Engineers make more money than journalists. Nobody is forcing anybody to study one field or another (and nobody did in the Eastern block). What you’re saying doesn’t make sense.

          In fact, the U.S. does so poorly when it comes to women in tech that it can only be realistically explained culturally. India, a largely under-developed country where they have things like female infanticide, has 2x the ratio of female programmers vs. the U.S. It’s that culture that needs to be changed, and Damores are not helping.

           

        2. Theodora

          What I say makes perfect sense and is in accordance with what James Damore and Debra Soh noticed. Nanely, that you have less women in tech (and more stay-at-home mothers) in the US than in the former Eastern block and India precisely because large numbers of American women can afford the luxury to do what they want and what they enjoy. For women in India and in the former Communist countries, the choice is “study math or starve in a Godforsaken village with no running water”.

        3. Alex

          Female engineer here! I also read Damore’s memo entirely and listened to him explain his impetus for writing it on a podcast.

           

          My take is that everything he said was totally correct. Unfortunately, he was writing it for a very specific audience – the people at his work in charge of diversity hiring. It wasn’t written for every single person on the internet. This meant he didn’t even get to the “point” of the memo until the very end, which I suspect many people never read. His point was that if we really want more women involved,  the way to do it would be to make the work place more appealing to women to draw more/better applications. Not to hire mediocre female engineers for the sake of having more women.

           

          I’m not sure if Gala or Theodora are engineers, but I can tell you that engineering working environments suck for women. They are often dark, dirty, cluttered and you are encouraged to work alone. I used to ask male coworker’s about the fact that we had no windows and most of them hadn’t even noticed that the office got zero natural light. Women are more visual and they like being in pretty spaces. They also like to connect with the people around them. James Damore started to point out (not very effectively, but he tried) that a traditional engineering environment is not somewhere the typical woman would want to work. From my perspective, he’s right.

        4. Alex

          To be clear, these are some examples. My point is that we need to value what women bring enough to want to create good working environments for them.

        5. Yet Another Guy

          @Gala

          What Alex pointed out is true.   I have been involved in software and hardware engineering longer than you or Alex have been alive.  Engineering has a high dropout rate, and women tend to dropout faster than men.  A lot of women move into sales engineering and then into sales.  A good number of women move into more family-friendly professions with better hours and accommodations.

          Engineering is not a “bro culture.”  It is that engineers tend to make do with what they are given.  Little effort is made to make engineering spaces comfortable.  That money is usually reserved for the forward-facing spaces in an organization.

          In reality, engineering is not a great job unless one loves being an engineer, which is why there is such a high dropout rate.  No amount of money can make a person work incredibly long hours under less than ideal conditions.  I was relieved when my analytical daughter told me that she wanted to become a doctor instead of an engineer.

        6. Theodora

          Regarding the possibility to make tech companies more female-friendly, most of them already go out of their way to do that, in my opinion . However, if men asked the education system to be more male-friendly and male-accommodating because male teachers are seriously underrepresented in primary education, I’m sure they would be told to give up the entitlement and suck it up, because it’s up to them to adapt themselves, not up to schools to accommodate them. In other words, if you want to be a teacher, just go and strive to be one, because you can. I don’t understand why it should be different for female programmers and engineers.

          My guess is that even if we make tech companies as female-friendly as Manolo Blahnik and elementary schools as male-friendly as Hooters, we still can’t achieve freely equal representation, unless we use pressure, coercion and injustice. Because on average men are better at programming than women and women work with children better than men. And averages matter.

        7. Gala

          @YAG

          I left engineering because i wanted to make more money than I was making in engineering, and I have.  Definitely didn’t leave it because of “uncomfortable” space. I simply moved from one cubicle to another (though I have since attained my own office hehe). And my comments were specifically about the culture at SV. Engineering fields in other parts of the country have better track record of attracting and retaining women and minorities. Why, I stand by my assessment that it is because SV caters to the needs of 24 yo boys. Yes ping pong tables are designed to keep people at work. But what kind of people? Young boys. A daycare center on premises would do the same thing but for mothers.  But it isn’t there. Lastly on the H1B issue. I started out on that visa. You can rest assured that we were not (and are not) “cheap labor”. At the end of my engineering career I was making 150k and my fiancé (also an H1B) holder was making even more, plus stock options. Two startups he worked for were ultimately sold for billions of dollars and he retired with seven figures. When people refer to H1Bs as some sweat shop slaves I laugh

        8. Yet Another Guy

          @Gala

          At the end of my engineering career I was making 150k

          That figure in Silicon Valley is nothing because the cost of living is so high.  The cost of housing in the Bay Area is ridiculous.

          I disagree with your assessment that other areas of the country have better track records of attracting and retaining women engineers.  I have been in the field for the better part of four decades.  I have never worked on the West Coast.  Women usually dropout of software and hardware engineering in less than ten years, and it is usually not because they made enough money to retire. The women who remain affiliated with technology tend to move into forward-facing areas such as sales and marketing; however, most move into other domains.

          As I mentioned earlier, engineering as a career sucks if one does not love it.  I knew that I was going to be technical from a young age.  I learned to how solder correctly by age 9.  I knew how to use oscilloscopes and sweep generators to test and debug electronic circuits that I built by age 13.  I was born to be an engineer, and I do not regret forgoing chasing a higher compensation package to remain an engineering professional.  I had the fortune of being involved in the design of a few amazing systems when worked in the “black projects” world.  Money is not everything, and those who chase it tend to be shallow.

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @Gala

          By way, anyone who considers cubes or “open spaces” to be comfortable needs to have his/her examined.  While I spent a lot of time in labs when I was younger (I designed hardware interfaces for real-time embedded systems and wrote a lot firmware at that point in my career), I have had an office for most of my career.  Cubes are an abomination when it comes to software development.

        10. Alex

          @Theodora I understand your position here -that if you want to do something you should just go do it – but I disagree with you.

          It completely depends on the product. Something like Google or Facebook is used by literally every kind of person, so that product should be designed by a diverse group of people. Education is similar. boys need to be educated as well, so we should make efforts to get male teachers into classrooms. Somethignlike Manolo Blahnik shoes are worn by a specific person, so that kind of person should design them.

           

          A quick example. I know that women are not involved in designing most cars. How do I know? I have never ever gotten into a car – in any country, made by any company, of any price point – and had a place to put my purse, except on the dirty floor or wedged somewhere between seats.

        11. Alex

          @YAG I would also say that we value making work “hard”. We tend to have a difficult time saying that work in general should be a little more flexible or family friendly. I don’t understand why?

           

          Wouldnt it be healthier for everyone to encourage work-life balance? Why do we reward people who spend 20 hours a day working on their business? This isn’t how humans have evolved. I think it would be great for everyone if we dropped this idea that “toiling” at work is somehow a good thing. And then we would definitely see more women in traditionally male fields and vice versa.

        12. Alex

          @YAG

          “Cubes are an abomination when it comes to software development.”

          Thank you thank you thank you!

      3. 3.1.3
        Marika

        Evan, while you certainly didn’t compare a woman to a dog, comparing a particular gender’s groundbreaking programming efforts (not that I know much about the topic, but computer programming was pretty groundbreaking?) to a dog unknowingly being sent to space, is a stretch…

        I can see her point on that comment.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          No one was comparing a woman to a dog. I was comparing a faulty analogy to a faulty analogy. Sorry if that was unclear.

        2. Gala

          Hey Alex:

          i have a degree in engineering and I used to work in tech (I have since left for greener pastures). The examples you give seem very specific. The offices of major tech companies are actually quite nice. Where is this no windows situation is going on? Also, with the advent of the open office culture I think the whole “lack of communication” is not really the issue. If anything, everybody is in everybody’s business all the time. I really don’t know why is it so hard for the HR and manageent of tech companies  to figure out how to make the environment better for women. It really is not complicated. If I was running this effort, my first order of business would be to institute a strict dress code. No flip flops, sportswear, denim etc. Second order of business – cut the “fun” things. No ping pong tables. No any of the collegey stuff. Why? Because the presence of these things creates college-like atmosphere and fosters the bro culture. It needs to be replaced with grown up, adult, professional culture and etiquette. People behave differently when the environment changes. That’s a fact. And as far as perks for women, not rocket science: free daycare onsite. Maternity rooms. Flexible schedules. Laundry/dry cleaning drop off pick up (they already have that but not all). Make the cafeteria prepare healthy family size meals for pick up at the end of the work day so she can bring home dinner. Mandate that fathers take paternity leave or at least strongly encourage that. This is what you do to create mature workforce. If you tailor your recruiting efforts to hire 23 year olds who think they know everything, and then cater to their tastes and habits, ignoring older demographics, OF COURSE you fail to retain women. This is when you get the toxic culture that SV has now.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Gala

          No flip flops, sportswear, denim etc. Second order of business – cut the “fun” things. No ping pong tables. No any of the collegey stuff. Why? Because the presence of these things creates college-like atmosphere and fosters the bro culture. It needs to be replaced with grown up, adult, professional culture and etiquette. People behave differently when the environment changes.

          That is exactly how engineering shops operated when I first entered the field.  The dropout rate was still high.  The dress code was relaxed in an effort to get people to remain in engineering.

          The majority of software and hardware engineering jobs are not in Silicon Valley (SV). The problem with SV is not “bro culture.”  It is SV’s addiction to cheap, exploitable labor.  The salaries look great until number of hours worked and cost of living are factored into the equation.  The H-1B program is just another source for cheap, exploitable labor.  All of the freebies and ping pong tables at Google and other SV companies exist to keep people at work.

          Why did you leave engineering?  You did so for “greener pastures.”  That statement alone says it all.  Engineering is not a great profession unless one loves being an engineer.  Given your age, I can only assume that you did what long-term engineers refer to as “the tour.”  Tourists remain in engineering long enough to earn an academic credential that gets them out of engineering.  They usually see engineering as easy money, but discover that it is hard work.

        4. Alex

          @Gala I agree with most of what you said, although I think we are talking about a couple different things.

           

          Engineering labs (I’m talking about hardware) in general are often gross and disorganized. Tech firms outside of SV often look much different. They don’t always have the money for the perks that’s companies like Uber provide and if the do, like YAG said, the money is spent on forward facing wings of the companies.

           

          But in general, yes, frat boy culture has got to go from the work place. I’m not a huge fan of formal dressing, but you should be clean and your clothes should be ironed. I think a lot of men don’t understand where boundaries at work are sometimes and that’s just a recipe for sexual harassment.

      4. 3.1.4
        Shaukat

        The danger of stereotyping is in assuming ALL people are the same.

        I would disagree with this statement. In my opinion, the fundamental flaw with most stereotypes, especially negative stereotypes, is not that they can lead to a slippery slope of attributing a specific characteristic to all members of said group, but rather, that even when a stereotype correctly identifies a pattern it reifies and naturalizes it, neglecting the social context that created the trend in the first place. While there are some stereotypes that most certainly are rooted in biology and evolution (men having higher sex drives, being more sexually aggressive, violent, etc), others are clearly culturally and socially contingent.

        For example, take the standard early twentieth century anti-Semitic trope that Jews were greedy financiers with no loyalty to any nation-state. It was certainly true that Jews historically filled mercantile and financial occupations, but this was largely due to the fact that they were excluded from political office and often barred from owning land. Yet the fascists took this canard and used the stereotype to draw unfounded assumptions about the intrinsic nature of Jews. Or, take the stereotype that blacks commit violent crimes on a greater scale than whites. Again, statistically this is true, but when the underlying causes are ignored white nationalists, such as Spencer or Jared Taylor, use this statistic to make claims about the intrinsic violent tendencies of African-Americans in order to justify regressive policies.

        In my view, this entire thread highlights a fundamental problem with Evolutionary Psychology as a field. Undoubtedly, EP has made some remarkable contributions, such as debunking the standard social science model that humans are born as blank slates, while also showing that the male and female brain is the product of evolutionary processes. Unlike evolutionary biology, it is often not possible to test some of EP’s hypotheses through experimentation or by examining the fossil record. As a result, many of its practitioners simply work backwards by taking an outcome and then weaving a story around it regarding its evolutionary basis. Nothing wrong that, but it involves a great deal of guess work and it is often impossible to falsify. Thus, the argument that STEM fields are dominated by men because of differences in male/female cognitive abilities is very difficult to test, because societies are not laboratories, and there are far too many other variables that need to be controlled.

        TL; DR: Agree with Gala on this one.

        1. Mau

          is the reason 93% of the prison population male because of negative stereotypes

          I’ll have to agree withGala on this one too, partly yes.

          Crude example: imagine I (a woman) am walking down a busy street and I decide to punch some man in the face. Chances are pretty reasonable I’ll get away with it. Hell, if I cry a bit afterwards and make up some sob story, i might even get sympathy and a cup of tea from bystanders. Some people might even ask me what that awful man did to me that i had to resort to violence…

          Now if some man punches me in the face on the same street – he’s going to be arrested. And guess where he’ll end up…

          To be clear: I think THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

          (also, I never punched a man in the face, or anywhere, unless fighting with my brother as a child counts)

          Unfortunately, this is how our society is at this moment. We react differently to violence from men and to violence from women. And yes, ofcourse there are genetic differences, but they don’t explain all of the differences in societal outcomes between men and women that we observe.

          I don’t believe that stereotypes will ever disappear completely, they are part of how our brain works. But we should strive to provide the future generations with equal opportunities, regardless of gender or whatever other feature. To be able to do that, we first have to acknowledge that some stereotypes affect our ability to treat individuals around us equally.

           

      5. 3.1.5
        Sum Guy

        Evan,

        Again, you’re a bright guy with good values. This just isn’t a sound argument. It twists everything into something unrecognizable from my original two arguments:

        1. Men and women are different.
        2. Stereotypes are often true.”

        Thank you Evan, I can say the same of you.

         

        I think we agree and  disagree as follows:

        1. Men and women are different. AGREE
        2. Stereotypes are often true. AGREE IN PART BUT MOSTLY DISAGREE

         

        The whole 93% thing is something you brought up so I went with it as it is familiar to me, again from another context.

         

        My contention is that stereotypes are often not true especially those based on statistics.   That is my whole diatribe to show how the statistic doesn’t go far enough to justify a stereotype and why you need to be careful what you conclude from them.

        “Your whole diatribe accuses me of saying that “men are a violent gender,” when 73-93% of them are non-violent completely misses the point.”

        Not really, that is the natural conclusion people make from how you are using violent crime statistics.  That most violent criminals are men misses the point that most men are not violent criminals.   That most criminals are minorities misses the point that most minorities are not criminals.  Really as simple as that.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Violent crime was just a stand in for one of the ways in which men and women are different.

          Similarly, we have never heard of a case of a female Harvey Weinstein. But we have a raft of men who think sexual rules don’t apply to them – Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby – to name a few. In citing this, I’m not pointing out that ALL men are sexual predators, but rather that, if we’re going to stereotype sexual predators, we’re going to start with men. If we’re going to stereotype people who shoot 40 people in a mall, movie or a church, we’re going to start with men. If we’re going to look at who is most likely to blow up a plane, we’re going to start with men. To suggest otherwise is both false and disingenuous.

          One can say that 99% of men aren’t rapists and ALSO say that 99% of rapists ARE men. That’s what I was saying. Really as simple as that.

        2. Emily, the original

          Similarly, we have never heard of a case of a female Harvey Weinstein.

          It’s always the Weinstens of the world, the Roger Ailes, the Trumps who have to resort to sexual harassment because they can’t attract women on their own merits without exerting their power and money.

        3. Gala

          @Emily

          have to resort to sexual harassment because they can’t attract women on their own merits 

          I’d say that is another stereotype that has little basis in truth. Have you seen photos of Weinstein’s wife? She is drop dead gorgeous. I trust it that you know what Melania looks like (and she’s the 3rd model who he married…). So, for sure these men can attract women, this isn’t the driver. It’s the power itself they’re after. Harassment is about power, not sex.

        4. Emily, the original

          Gala,

          So, for sure these men can attract women, this isn’t the driver. It’s the power itself they’re after. Harassment is about power, not sex.

          Neither Weinstein’s wife nor Melania Trump would have given either of those two men the time of day if the men weren’t wealthy. They can’t attract women on personality and/or appearance alone and they don’t want the women they can attract. Here’s the test: Would either of these women be hanging around if each man made $45 k? I don’t think so. Hey, must be the money!

        5. Theodora

          Wealth, power and fame are attraction triggers in themselves for many women. I’m pretty sure that Georgina Weinstein and Melania Trump loved their husbands, at least in the beginning, and they saw (as many women see) the capacity to acquire resources and social status as part of their personality and “who they are”.

          Of course they wouldn’t have given them the time of the day if they had made 45k/year, but then, how many women, of all ages and appearances, let alone two former models trophy wives, would give the time of the day to a man who makes 45k/year?

          Harvey Weinstein was capable to attract women out of his league in the looks department, the problem is that he became insatiable. Having a much younger, stunning trophy wife was not enough for him. Having discreet side pieces was not enough for him. He wanted each and every young beautiful starlet in the movie industry, and for that no man has enough wealth and power. So he chose the strategy “I can make or break your career in exchange for sex”. Predictably, he fell and broke his neck.

        6. Gala

          @Emily:

          No this isn’t just the money. A guy who can climb to the top the way these guys did and command that kind of power is attractive. Attraction is not about having washboard abs or great hair or what have you, it’s also about power.

        7. Evan Marc Katz

          I leave this for Gala and Shaukat. It’s a loooooooong piece written by one of my favorite writers on this subject, Stephanie Coontz, and it agrees with your assertions that men and women are biologically the same and that the discrepancies are more culture-based.

          Reading the first half (I couldn’t get through the whole thing), it seems Coontz is cherry-picking facts that support her thesis, and discounting those that don’t, which is a bit disappointing, given that I hold her in such high esteem.

          But if you’re looking to make a well-researched case as to why men are NOT biologically more aggressive, despite what we see everywhere in the world, this is the article you’ll want to use to make your case.

          Evan

        8. Emily, the original

          Gala,
          Attraction is not about having washboard abs or great hair or what have you, it’s also about power.

          Looks are an attractant for some women. So is personality. Not every woman is turned on my money and power.  I’d take the $45k guy who I was genuinely interested in and genuinely found appealing any day over the Trump or Weinstein types. Read the statement from Kate Becksinale about meeting Weinstein in a hotel room when she was 17: “I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him.” That pretty much sum it up.

        9. Theodora

          Nobody said that wealth and power are attraction triggers for absolutely all women. However, it worked enough tines that Weinstein and Trump could marry multiple times with women 5-6 points above them in looks. I don’t think that these women accepted to marry and have children with them when the only thing they felt was disgust.

        10. Emily, the original

          Theodora,

          I don’t think that these women accepted to marry and have children with them when the only thing they felt was disgust.

          Maybe not disgust but I highly doubt either one of these women looked at their future spouses and said, “Oh my God, I  have to have this guy.” For them, their beauty was a commodity to be traded for the man’s wealth and power. If both parties are ok with that kind of arrangement, more power to them. I just don’t understand the Larry Kings of the world who are surprised decades into a marriage that their much-younger spouses have cheated on them with men their own age.

        11. Theodora

          All human relationships are more or less transactional, maybe with the exception of the bond between a mother and her child, and even then the first condition is shared DNA.

          Some women are really not that attracted to looks and have other primary attraction cues. For some is power, wealth and fame. For me (and I know other women like me) it’s intelligence, particularly in the intellectual sense of the word. I don’t care at all how a man looks and I can stand an awkward personality as long as I’m in awe of his intellect (which Evan says is a bad idea and I agree, but this is the primary arousing quality I can find in a man – more intelligent and cultured than me). I fell in love and had crushes on men who looked as bad as Weinstein and Trump and were much older than me for their knowledge of philosophy, classic music and history – and nothing else, including character or kindness or how they treated me. So yes, I can imagine that if a woman is primarily attracted to power, she can meet Weinstein and say “I want to have this guy”.

          Regarding the danger to be cheated on by a younger and more attractive wife, it’s worth noting that as far as we know, it’s Weinstein and Trump who cheated on their wives, not the other way around. Status and wealth function like a natural dread game: it’s easier for Trump to find the next Melania than for her to find the next Donald Trump.

        12. Emily, the original

          Theodora,
          I fell in love and had crushes on men who looked as bad as Weinstein and Trump and were much older than me for their knowledge of philosophy, classic music and history
          I understand what you are saying. You’re talking about the Salman Rushdie’s of the world. A man you could listen to talk all day long because of his brilliance. But I don’t think anyone in the world would describe Trump as an intellectual or as cultured. He’s like a bull in a china store. No finesse. I don’t know about Weinstein. For me, the brilliance would have to be combined with at least a modicum of confidence and sex appeal and a lot of intellectuals lack at least one.
           So yes, I can imagine that if a woman is primarily attracted to power, she can meet Weinstein and say “I want to have this guy”.
          No. She’s saying, “I want what this guy can give me.” There’s a difference.
          Status and wealth function like a natural dread game: it’s easier for Trump to find the next Melania than for her to find the next Donald Trump.
          She’s paid her dues, again and again. (The thought of it is making me a bit nauseated.) She could divorce him and walk away loaded … and do whatever she wants with whomever she wants.

        13. Shaukat

          Thanks for the piece Evan, I’ll read it today. However, I want to point out that I am absolutely NOT saying that men and women are biologically the same. I agree with you that testosterone and other evolutionary processes have rendered men, in general, more aggressive, more sex-driven, and more prone to violence. My point was that I’m not sure that male/female differences can be extended to the cognitive realm, and that evolutionary psychology might be ill suited to determine whether men are naturally more inclined to excel at STEM fields because EV involves a lot of guess work and societies are not laboratories.

  4. 4
    Jeremy

    There is a study to match every opinion.  The question is not what we believe, the question is why we want to believe it.

     

    When we discussed emotional intelligence, I complained that the study in question didn’t correctly define its terms because I want to believe that if men and women argue, some degree of fault usually lies with both parties, not just one.  Whether or not that is always true, if we believe it is true I think we will come away with better outcomes, where both parties make an effort to truly compromise with the other.

    In the case of other gender-based stereotypes, the question of whether something is generally true is less important that the question of what will give the best outcome.  Treating people as if they are all equally capable, or treating people as if they are not.  Remember that even if we know (on some level) that people are individuals and not statistics, our intuitive thought processes are based on heuristics and stereotypes – so we should chose which heuristics we want to use very carefully!

  5. 5
    Tron Swanson

    I’m sure that, to some degree, there are gender-defined personality traits…but we shouldn’t let it matter. Granted, I have a horse in this race, since I’m not traditionally masculine.

    I vote that we just let people be who they are. When we push people to embrace their supposed “biological” traits, we alienate the ones who aren’t similar to their gender in those areas. Likewise, when we push people to rebel against their supposed “biological” traits, we alienate the ones who actually do have those traits. If a woman isn’t interested in having a family and wants to focus on her career, more power to her. If a woman isn’t interested in having a career and wants to focus on her family, more power to her. If a woman wants to have some combination of the two–but not in a way where she expects to have her cake and eat it too, in the sense of benefiting from mutually-exclusive expectations–more power to her.

    Forget biological differences; culture is the thing we should really be focusing on. Most men haven’t really figured out how to take advantage of mutually-exclusive cultural expectations, yet, but most women have. Women have become masters of switching back and forth between the best of both worlds. When traditionalism benefits them, they’re traditional, and when modernity  benefits them, they’re modern. Men aren’t any better than women, so I’m sure that most of us will eventually try to game the system in the same way.

    1. 5.1
      Alex

      Hi Tron,

       

      What about you is so un-masculine? And why do you think there will be no women who can accept these parts of you?

      1. 5.1.1
        Tron Swanson

        There are too many to go into. And there are women that would accept these parts of me, but I’d have to jump through a lot of hoops, and I’m not interested in conventional relationships, anyway.

        Also, put me on Team “I Think Stereotypes Can Be Extremely Damaging” and Team “See People as People First, Men/Women Second”.

  6. 6
    Sum Guy

    Statistics to stereotypes, just a bad idea and weak tea to base an argument on.

    I love this one 93% of the prison population is male.   I’ll assume it is true or close enough.  And I say so what?   You have a correlation between gender and prison population.   It’s just fundamental statistics that correlation does not mean causation.  Yet it’s the most common mistake people make with statistics.

     

    The talk is all about averages and percentages, but until you understand the variance, error and sample size you really can’t say a lot, and in fact you can draw the wrong conclusions.    For example yes there are differences in male and female brain function.   Let’s just assume these are all biological and that the volunteers in these small studies are representative, and the studies are well designed.

     

    Even then if there is an on average difference the variation (even just 1 standard deviation) is almost always so huge that there are few people at that average, they are scattered above and below it.   That is, the difference even if real is slight and given the variance a poor predictor of anything.

     

    It’s cool to see these and there may be some interesting neurochemistry and environmental impacts on brain development.  But to extrapolate anything more than that, especially about social organization and to predict a persons ability or character based thereon, is just a survey of your prejudices.

     

    You think people would would have learned their lesson from all the science and statistics used to show racial superiority, assuming that there is even such a thing as an objective definition of race.    It’s not that this data was fabricated,  it was the study design, reliance on averages and confounding factors being minimized ( because hey the results were what people wanted to hear, let’s just ignore the variance in the data) that led scientific credibility to eugenics laws.   We think we are so much wiser than that now, we’re not.   People back then thought they were objective as well, it’s just a different set of biases.

     

    You evaluate this stuff by looking at the study design and raw data closely, with an eye to systemic error, the full statistics and control for alternative hypothesis.

     

    Stereotypes based on statistics are the most dangerous.  They give can convert covert confirmation bias into a kernel of truth, a kernel of truth into unjustified generalizations.   They give the imprint of scientific objectivity.   Yet they lead nowhere good.   Stereotypes are the basis of prejudice, prejudice is the basis of ill treatment of the stereotyped and bad decisions by the stereotyper.

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sum Guy,

      Your causation not equaling correlation argument is true, but it’s a canard that distracts from the main point: men and women are different.

      You’ve set up a wonderful slippery slope argument that ends in you being right: “Stereotypes are the basis of prejudice, prejudice is the basis of ill treatment of the stereotyped and bad decisions by the stereotyper.” rather than acknowledging that it’s not systemic sexism that puts men in jail, nor is it systemic sexism that accounts for male rapists, murderers, and shooters. The evidence is irrefutable: men are objectively more violent than women.

      And what’s far more dangerous than my use of stereotypes as a shorthand to talk about men and women is your using the word “dangerous” to describe this kind of conversation. Dangerous is insulting any heretic who dare point out that people are impervious to facts when feelings are involved – whether that’s God-fearing Christians on creationism, the NRA on gun deaths, or college liberals on free speech. Good luck arguing with someone whose first move is to ignore the evidence and attack the person providing it.

      (The evidence: evolution is real, more guns = more gun deaths, free speech = free speech. You can add: “men have testosterone and testosterone affects behavior” to this list.)

      1. 6.1.1
        Sum Guy

        You conflate me with the NRA and assume my polititics to ignore my point that simply quoting a statistic to then come up with a stereotype is a way of thinking fraught with error.

        Who is attacking the person here Evan?

        You’d probably be surprised my politics line up more with yours, from the few hints you give, than you think.   I’m certainly left of the US center on most things.

        I thought that was pretty clear in my posts, although I strive to avoid politics here.

         

        In fact, it’s probably because I think we might share some politics and societal outlook that I even go on about this.   I may well agree with your conclusions, but I want them to be based on strong arguments not weak ones.

        You seem to not realize when going off on me about men being more violent, that the statistics generally used for that are part of the same bundle to say black men are more dangerous than white men.   I’ll assume you don’t believe that.

        Just so you don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree that men engage in many more violent crimes than women.

         

        I’m not making any argument about if men are more violent or not, or if women are more or less geared to science or not.   Both sides of the political spectrum misuse statistics to support their views.

         

        I’m attacking the assumption that you throw out some statistic and it supports a stereotype.   And more important that most people see no problem with that, it’s a huge problem.

         

        To me a stereotype means you think the majority or a large portion of people of a certain group are that way.   That is very different than a statistic.

         

        Here is a pure hypothetical example of how to misuse a statistic (these are just made up statistics, you can reverse the genders as this is about the logic and how statistics can mislead you) say women are ten times more likely to commit fraud than men.   Some would say this shows women are more dishonest than men.    That’s bogus until you know what percentage of the female population commits fraud.   Let’s say it’s huge, 15 million women commit fraud!   Sounds scary, but that is roughly only about 10% of the female population in the US.   It’s safer, and more scientifically sound, to say that 90% of women are honest.    It doesn’t matter that by this made up statistic 99% of men are honest.    Especially when you need to account for error, which if one part in 20, that means 86-94% of women are honest and 94-100% of men are.   So if this error is 1 standard deviation, you got very roughly about a 30% chance that men and women are equally honest.  Something you’d never get from a ten times more likely statistic devoid of context.

        To the extent you are saying women should be careful because men can be dangerous, yes, I agree.    My posts when they touch on that agree, that’s why I’m not offended if a woman doesn’t want to give me her number, or posts details on-line that  are a bit off ( e.g. where she lives) to protect herself.

        I can agree with your conclusions, that is not my point.

        I disagree with the method used to reach them, most especially when the conclusion is valid because it leads you to believe the methodology is right, when it is flawed.    The next time the methodology may well lead you to the wrong conclusion.

        To the extent I’d discuss any specific  statistic based stereotype here it would be one related to assumptions that can have a negative impact on dating.

         

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I didn’t conflate you (or your politics) with the NRA.

          I conflated your argument with that of the NRA (as well as liberals who believe in free speech except for people who disagree with them)

          The NRA will swear, up and down, that guns are not a problem, despite tons of evidence that countries with more guns have more gun deaths.

          You are contorting yourself into a similarly untenable position: trying to find any sliver of daylight to point out the flaws of statistical analysis, instead of looking at the overwhelming evidence that men have more testosterone and are therefore biologically different.

          From Wikipedia (not EvoPsych Monthly):

          “Testosterone is significantly correlated with aggression and competitive behaviour and is directly facilitated by the latter.”

          “Testosterone and other androgens have evolved to masculinize a brain in order to be competitive even to the point of risking harm to the person and others.”

          “The rise in testosterone levels during competition predicted aggression in males but not in females.[85] Subjects who interacted with hand guns and an experimental game showed rise in testosterone and aggression. Natural selection might have evolved males to be more sensitive to competitive and status challenge situations and that the interacting roles of testosterone are the essential ingredient for aggressive behaviour in these situations. Testosterone produces aggression by activating subcortical areas in the brain, which may also be inhibited or suppressed by social norms or familial situations while still manifesting in diverse intensities and ways through thoughts, anger, verbal aggression, competition, dominance and to physical violence. Testosterone specific structural brain characteristic can predict aggressive behaviour in individuals.”

          So, again, I can acknowledge large-scale sexism, unconscious bias, the bigotry of low expectations, deeply ingrained societal gender roles – and none of that changes the simple fact that a) men and women are different and b) because of this difference, stereotypes are often (not always true).

          You STILL want to argue with a and b? Be my guest. But you are operating from a place of not wanting to believe it and scrambling to make long-shot cases – which makes your arguments no better than the NRA, climate change deniers, and liberals who think free speech only applies to speech they agree with.

          Occam’s Razor, man. The simplest answer is usually the right one. We can come up with a conspiracy to explain OJ or 9/11, but usually, it’s exactly what we think it is. Why it would be so hard to admit men and women are different is beyond me; as long as we have equal RIGHTS and OPPORTUNITIES, we don’t have to be the same. Those obvious differences are what ensure an interesting and diverse world, as well as important sexual polarity. No one is saying women aren’t smart. No one is denying sexism. No one is espousing anything other than liberal values. But if you determine that liberal values include denying science that doesn’t fit your narrative, you are, indeed trafficking in the same tropes as cigarette companies who used to deny a link to smoking and cancer.

          Men = more testosterone = more aggression (in general) than women. Which explains a WHOLE lot of the behavior we see in the dating world and elsewhere.

        2. Sum Guy

          Evan,

          Thank you for the kind words.

          I can’t really go on with thread now, but let us talk about evidence briefly.

          This:

          “Men = more testosterone = more aggression (in general) than women. Which explains a WHOLE lot of the behavior we see in the dating world and elsewhere.”

          Is not supported by current research; at least to anti-social aggression (aka violence).  It’s much more complicated, but we can quibble about what is meant by aggression.   It’s very important to define that as different aspects have a link to testosterone and others do not.

           

          The citation in your Wikpedia quote [85] does not really support your point, it’s about rise during competition.  Not high levels make you more competitive.

           

          This research is more relevant.

          https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jcem.81.10.8855834
           

           

      2. 6.1.2
        Sum Guy

        Follow up, the main point for me is not that men and women are different, that’s such an obvious statement from physical appearance alone.   The point always goes to how, to what degree, is the variation within a sex comparable to the variation between the sexes, how widespread is the trait amongst the sex, etc. and to what end do you put this information.

  7. 7
    Sylvana

    I absolutely believe that it boils down to testosterone. While some factors like upbringing (moral code, etc.) help influence behavior, levels of testosterone play a HUGE role in a person’s personality and behavior.

    And this is independent of actual gender. A woman with high testosterone will feel, think, and act much like a man with high testosterone. A man with low testosterone will feel, think, and act more like a woman (not necessarily girly, but more understanding, less aggressive, less competitive, etc.). Since testosterone levels are naturally higher in most men and lower in most women, however, the gender stereotypes come into play.

    Although I’m a woman (and, on top of it, sadly 100% straight), I have very high testosterone levels.  It took until the age of 35 that I finally figured out WHY I was feeling, thinking, and acting the way I did (doctors discovered the testosterone levels).

    To my never-ending frustration, I apparently give out the energy (or have the presence) of a man. Not a butch woman, not a woman with a lot of masculine traits. But a straight up man.

    On top of it, I have a naturally extremely dominant presence. The reason I say presence, rather than demeanor, is that I am always perceived as dominant, no matter how I present myself. When dealing with animals, this becomes way obvious (I work with horses, but have worked with everything, including large predators in zoos).

    Even physically tough men, who will not back down from a fight, and tend to win them, have told me that no matter how sweet, submissive, or “harmless” I come across, they can “sense” that they would not want to mess with me – or that if they would, they would encounter an equal opponent. And this is in regard to a physical altercation (and I’ve never swung a fist at a human myself in my life). There is an energy/vibration/call it what you will, that cannot be denied no matter how a person presents him/herself.

    In a sense, they are correct. Aggression is a huge part of my personality. While I can’t stand bullying, and firmly believe that a woman should never have to fight as long as a man is around, I am an absolute supporter of physical violence when it comes to protecting. And I would never back down from the threat of physical violence.

    In general, I am very drawn to physical dominance, strength, and toughness. To me, a fight between opponents is the natural way of settling things. Intelligence might tell me otherwise, but as long as there is good reason for the fight, I much prefer to see a fight.

    I often find myself in situations (even outside of fighting) where the intelligent side goes “gosh, that was stupid.” But the other side is grinning, thinking “yeah …. but it was fun.” And you darn well know there will be a woman standing on the sideline, huffing and rolling her eyes, and letting us know how “primitive” we are. (There, I stereotyped. But that’s the way it’s been all my life).

    On the other hand, I’m also very aware of the negative effects of high testosterone. Aggression turning into near uncontrollable rage, for example. While I would never turn against an innocent, when provoked, it takes all I have not to snap. Even if I don’t snap, there’s always at least a quick show of physical violence (slamming a hand into something, kicking or throwing something, etc.).

    I also agree that masculine/higher testosterone traits often get mentioned in mostly a negative context. While feminine/less testosterone traits mostly get mentioned as positives. Both are great at their best, and horrible at their worst.

    A lot of women seem to have a weird way of looking at the traits, though. If a woman is feminine, she is weak/submissive. If a man is masculine, he’s an domineering, ape-like brute. Yet when a woman takes on masculine traits, she’s not a brute, she’s strong and independent. When a man takes on feminine traits, he’s not weak, he’s sensitive and understanding.

    They tend to see only the negative of each sexes’ own qualities, then only the positive of each sexes’ opposite qualities.

    Stereotyping does not equal discrimination. Most of the time, it is simply supporting the facts. How people react to the facts is a whole different story.

    Should we judge people because they are not what is considered “typical”? No, of course not (as long as they are a good person). But to say we should ignore the facts so people who are not “typical” can feel better about themselves is idiotic.

    Fact is: Testosterone drives aggression (in both men and women). Fact is: Testosterone is higher in most men, and lower in most women. Fact is: Even if nobody told children growing up that men and women are supposed to feel/think/act a certain way, nature would drive them to feel/think/act the way they do anyway. And it wouldn’t change which balance of traits they are attracted to either.

    Also, comparing something like testosterone to factors without influence (such as race, for example) is rather silly. There is absolute proof that hormones (any hormone) effect behavior. Will a gene that effects skin/eye/hair color play a role in behavior? Likely not. (Although we might some day discover a gene responsible for serial killers. Who knows?).

    Let’s say there is a group of 10 white women, all pregnant, and 10 black women, all not pregnant. The white women’s emotions are all over the place. No one would assume it’s because they’re white. It’s because of the pregnancy hormones.

     

     

     

     

     

  8. 8
    Sum Guy

    Sylvana,

    I kind of keep up with these kinds of studies for a living, primarily on the detection side and pharmaceutical side.  So would love to know the studies you’ve seen on this stuff:

    “Fact is: Testosterone drives aggression (in both men and women).”   I can certainly agree depending on how we define aggression.   Also what we mean by testosterone drives as other hormones modulate testosterone.   I believe the current data on everyday men in everyday settings shows testosterone does not drive violence.

    https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jcem.81.10.8855834

     

    There is this more recent paper though that shows it may correlate in women.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4199296/

     

    “Fact is: Testosterone is higher in most men, and lower in most women.”  Yes, but estrogen and other hormones are part of the mix and it depends on free versus bound testosterone, same with other hormones.  Blood levels are very low and only recently in last few years have there been reliable tests for some levels.  There are also other hormones that modulate things.  Short answer,  the reason people think about all these other hormones is because testosterone alone explains very little with respect to human behavior.  Extreme testosterone imbalances do correlate to behavior, but our biology is not linear, for example, that is a certain amount of testosterone may have a huge effect but just 20% less none at all.

    The biochemical systems that most correlate with behavior is serotonin and dopamine, see e.g.,

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2612120/

     

    “Fact is: Even if nobody told children growing up that men and women are supposed to feel/think/act a certain way, nature would drive them to feel/think/act the way they do anyway. And it wouldn’t change which balance of traits they are attracted to either.”

    I am interested in such studies, always interested in the nature v nurture aspects.  I wonder how you would even account for the culture we are imbedded in and inundated with. I can say I have two daughters, one I say follows what you suggest the other does not (and she is not gay).

    I also would like to understand how this plays out with people who identify as transgender, and all the various shades of gender and sexual attraction being discussed.  Talking with non-hetero people over the years has made me believe more that gender is cultural, that there is no biological imperative as I’ve known gay men attracted to the “feminine,” gay men attracted to the “masculine” and hetero people attracted to different things, that is the balance changes.

     

    For myself, sure I fit the hetero stereotype attraction indicators and attract like-minded women, but that is not enough for me to make me elevate it to fact.

     

     

  9. 9
    Stacy

    I NEVER get the ‘men and women are the same’ people.  Scientific observation is not even necessary to prove that men are women are different in significant ways (so no, it doesn’t just stop at physical makeup).  It is so GLARINGLY obvious within every facet of life that I find the idea of even having to try to convince someone of this is ridiculous.

    1. 9.1
      Shaukat

      I NEVER get the ‘men and women are the same’ people.

      Virtually no one here has said or implied this. Straw-man.

      1. 9.1.1
        Stacy

        @Shaukat,

        I was referring to people in general. I have heard the argument more times than I can count (actually, I had a similar discussion with a young lady on another blog a few months ago) that gender is simply a social/societal/cultural/manufactured construct that has nothing to do with the unique makeup of male and female.

    2. 9.2
      Marika

      I hear you, Stacy. But I don’t work in a male dominated profession. If I did, I may be more mindful of this kind of stuff and a bit sensitive to it.

      My first professional job out of uni was in a male dominated section of a large organization. I was hired as a grad with two other women in a team of around 10 men (most who were a fair bit older). It all seemed great. I later found out that the guys, who treated us with nothing but utmost respect and professionalism to our faces, behind our backs commented on our looks, clothes, body etc in great detail. Call me naive, but that felt a bit gross. I’d already well moved on by then, but if I still worked there, I can imagine that sort of thing getting really tiresome.

  10. 10
    Stacy

    Oh, and Evan, all your responses to these arguments are on POINT! I have a newfound respect for you.

  11. 11
    Girl in the Midwest

    I am a woman, 33, ethnic minority, married, PhD in a STEM field, and I agree with Evan.

    I believe men and women, as a population, are different.  But we are equally VALUABLE.  The world needs both types.  I think we should raise the status of women’s strengths and contributions instead of claiming all differences in life outcomes between men and women are b/c of discrimination.

    (1) “On average, men are taller than women” — I haven’t measured the height of every single man and woman on this planet to obtain an average difference but most people wouldn’t argue with me.  (2) “On average, men have better spatial reasoning than women” — not politically correct.  This statement has an implicit value judgement to it.   (3) “On average, women have more emotional intelligence and are better communicators than men” — politically correct implicit value judgement.

    From a statistical/numbers perspective, these 3 statements may be the same.  If you are ok with statement 1 and 3, then you should be ok with statement 2.  All these statements are about the population, not an individual.

    I think biology is sexist.  If anything, society is trying to undo sexist biology.  Discrimination explains some of the differences in outcome, but far from all.  We should still work to fix the discrimination though.

     

     

  12. 12
    Marika

    Shaukat said:

    I’m not sure that male/female differences can be extended to the cognitive realm, and that evolutionary psychology might be ill suited to determine whether men are naturally more inclined to excel at STEM fields because EV involves a lot of guess work and societies are not laboratories.

    I tend to agree. I work in a neuro field (admittedly not in research), but I do know that as soon as we think we’ve figured out something about the brain (such as male vs female differences), then gets replaced by other research showing something different. Human research is a tricky beast. It’s best not to be too definitive or draw absolute conclusions.

  13. 13
    Rachel

    As a female engineer with 15 years in the IT industry, I would like to say that James Damore was right.  I work for an IT company.  At the risk of sounding conceited, and I am one of the best technicians in my office.  My boss would tell you the same thing.  That being said, I am well aware that I am not a ‘typical’ woman.  I once had a business coach tell me I was “so male”.   The female obsession with shoes is totally incomprehensible to me.  I don’t wear makeup, not for any moral reason or to make a statement, but because I can’t be bothered.  Girly girls baffle and annoy me to no end.  I have no problem acknowledging that gender stereotypes are based on fact, and simultaneously that I don’t line up with them.  Statistical distribution is not a difficult concept.  I don’t understand why people have difficulty with this subject.  I am not threatened by the statement that women are less likely to be interested in IT.  I know I am the exception, and I am happy with where I am in life.  I don’t need to be protected from reality.  I earned my place in a male dominated world, and I am proud of it.

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