Epub Delusions of Gender The Real Science Behind Sex Ý freepe.co

“Fine’s sharp tongue is tempered with humor Read this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole issue is”—The New York TimesIt’s the twenty first century and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed Even though the glass ceiling is cracked most women stay comfortably beneath it And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains The neuroscience that we read about in magazines newspaper articles books and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains and the result is often than not a validation of the status uo Women it seems are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for houseworkDrawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars She then goes one step further offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender Passionately argued and unfailingly astute Delusions of Gender provides us with a much needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that as Fine shows with insight and humor all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society


10 thoughts on “Delusions of Gender The Real Science Behind Sex Differences

  1. says:

    This is a remarkably good book and anyone who's remotely interested in claims that there might be inherent differences in mental function between men and women should read it It's insightful carefully researched well written and often very funny And if it doesn't make you change your mind about at least a few things in this area you are either a remarkably knowledgable person or an incurable bigotI had read a few books and articles that touched on the subject of inherent gender differences and I'm afraid I had swallowed them rather uncritically Without understanding any of the details I had absorbed the vague idea that science had now established with the help of modern neuro imaging techniues that there were clear differences between male and female brains Men had stronger spatial and mathematical skills and women had stronger verbal and emotional skills and this all dovetailed sensibly with various biological and evolutionary storiesFine who works in psychology and appears to know the literature well demonstrates that this story absolutely fails to stand up to critical examination The science of gender differences turns out to be very bad science indeed; it seems that everyone has an agenda and is willing to do whatever it takes to advance it Researchers carry out poorly designed experiments with inadeuate numbers of subjects and then draw sweeping conclusions from differences which are not even clearly significant They look at coarse measures of activation in parts of the brain whose functions are still largely unclear and mysteriously deduce general cognitive principles relying on the fact that few people know how to interpret a brain scan In surprisingly many cases they flat out lie I am shocked though I suppose this just shows how naive I am I have worked for a long time in Artificial Intelligence a field that is notorious for overhyping its achievements Somehow I had thought these people were better than us but that does not appear to be trueHaving read Fine's masterly demolition job it is tempting to jump to the other extreme and conclude that there are no inherent differences between male and female minds and that those differences we see are entirely due to social conditioning I do not think however that that would be true to the deeper spirit of the book Fine who comes across as an admirable person is upfront about the fact that no one is neutral in this debate and she does not even pretend to be neutral herself; this is indeed one of the things which makes her writing so amusing She shows how researchers time after time have made claims about gender differences which in hindsight have turned out to be utterly absurd The rational response is to be as skeptical as possible about all such claims and I will pay Fine the compliment of treating her own arguments with the same skepticism I am indeed convinced by the way she refutes arguments that women are incapable of performing as well as men on a variety of tasks where they have traditionally been supposed inferior The section on the notorious spatial rotation task was particularly startling But there are all the same a number of facts which I do not think are obviously explained inside the framework she describes here With some misgivings I will outline what they are To begin there is the uncontroversial fact that autism and Asperger's Syndrome are far common in men than in women I know a fair amount about this from personal experience; my older son is autistic and I have spent a large part of my life interacting with chessplayers computer scientists mathematicians and other groups where Asperger's types turn out to be common It is hard to believe that this is coincidential The highly focused obsessive narrow Asperger's mindset seems to be a natural fit to these occupations or exactly to certain ways of approaching these occupations I would like to make it clear that I am in no way saying that women cannot be chessplayers mathematicians or computer scientists I know many women who are world class in these fields But there is a way of doing such things which is characteristically Asperger'sautistic and hence characteristically male The clearest and most extreme example I can come up with is inventing a new chess opening There are several hundred accepted chess openings and to the best of my knowledge none of them have been invented by women Why is this? Obviously I don't know but here are some thoughts Inventing a chess opening is something that reuires a great deal of talent and hard work but there is something to it than that which is hard to pin down the best description I have seen is in Lev Polugaevsky's wonderful book Grandmaster Preparation which I have read many times Basically inventing an opening is not a useful activity in any normal sense of the word Most strong chessplayers most World Champions even have never invented an opening It is not likely to make you successful competitively since most new openings are soon refuted and fall into disuse; the rational thing to do from this point of view is to use other people's openings It is not necessarily very creative The real reward is that it appeals to a kind of stubbornness The person who invents the opening goes his own way against the whole world just to show that he can Thinking in this way is a kind of madness that is much commoner in men It is not so much that women can't do it; it is that hardly any women can see why they would want to do it which is entirely sensible But somehow society as a whole seems to benefit from the existence of this small group of people who are willfully different even if the majority of them have wasted their lives without achieving anything Chess is a richer and interesting game because there are all these different paths one can takeSo Fine hasn't convinced me that men and women really do think alike at the deepest level; I believe it will be a long time before we understand what's going on there But she has convinced me that the facile arguments about brain scans proving that women are inherently wired to read emotions but not to understand calculus are utter crap If you haven't already done so check out this book Postscript about a year and a half laterI'm glad to say that I might have been wrong about women and chess openings Looking at Bologan's book on the Chebanenko Slav it certainly seems like there's a case for a Stefanova Variation; it goes 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 a6 5 a4 e6 6 Bg5 and now Stefanova's trademark reply is 6 a5? reaching the following positionBologan thinks it may be the best move and explicitly mentions former Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova as the person who's done most to help make it respectable; indeed a uick look at the Chessbase online game database shows that she's defended this position eight times drawing seven and winning one One of her opponents was Beliavsky a previous top 10 player and still very strongGo Stefanova Surely others will follow where she has led? Update Apr 20 2015Former World Championship finalist Nigel Short enters the debate details hereDespite the fact that my lifetime score against Grandmaster Short is 2 0 in my favor I would like to make it clear that I in no way consider myself intelligent than he is Statistics can be very misleading when taken out of context Update May 30 2015The Chessbase site today posted another piece on gender differences in chess and academia Women in chess the role of innate ability beliefs by Wei Ji Ma Although the paper is interesting and makes some excellent points I'm struck by the way the participants in this debate seem to be talking past each other Ma says early on that the available statistical evidence indicates that gender differences in achievement are largely or entirely due to differences in participation But this is exactly what the Howard study uoted by Short claims is not trueI think we need actual data here It would be particularly interesting to see the Howard analysis repeated with proper attention paid to obvious sources of bias introduced by the fact that women play disproportionately often against other women Update Feb 2 2016Nigel Short whose comments about women and chess have been widely circulated lost earlier this week to Harika Dronavalli India in the third round of the Gibraltar Masters Despite the fact that GM Harika thoroughly outplayed him and won a good game as Black it would be premature to draw any sweeping conclusions from a single result Update Apr 15 2017Hou Yifan the highest rated woman player in the world posted a disappointing loss against Vassily Ivanchuk in their recent match But today she came back strong in the first round of the GRENKE Classic and destroyed Fabiano Caruana who's currently World #4 She then followed up by beating Meier a normally very solid German grandmaster and drawing with World Champion CarlsenGo Hou Update Apr 19 2017From a recent interview with chess legend Alexander MorozevichBetween a man and a woman there are differences and significant ones but we’re all first and foremost people Can I simply looking at the notation of a game say that it was played by a woman? I tried it a couple of times and I didn’t manage – there are no clear differences In the results meanwhile there are differences and only a few women have so far been capable of playing on the level of the men’s Top 100 and I don’t fully understand why that’s the case In other intellectual games the proportions are or less the same with the very top occupied by men It would be interesting to do research on that topic Women in chess have one undoubted advantage they can play in men’s tournaments while we can’t play in women’s I once asked a FIDE official “Why is there such an injustice?” His answer surpassed all my expectations “You understand there’s a World Championship for women and a World Championship for people” Update Aug 2 2017Hou Yifan just won the Biel Grandmaster tournament ahead of a field that included a former world champion a former world championship challenger and three other players currently in the world top 40 Details hereNice going Hou


  2. says:

    Didn't realise Cordelia was Australian This is a lovely video of her views ’s say you have read a couple of books on the ‘science’ that ‘explains’ the differences between the sexes So just what are you likely to have been told? Well one thing would be that men have brains that are built to be logical and mathematical than women’s brains this is due to men’s better spatial rotational abilities that are a conseuence of right brain localisation and that this helps to explain why men end up in most of the high status jobs like Engineering or Science just as their greater aggression ensures they end up President or CEO But that this comes at a cost – men tend to be socially dysfunctional – a conseuence of their limited ability to use their somewhat larger brains ‘laterally’ This hinders them in their linguistic abilities men being simply not as fluent as women But this is okay because it is women who need to be able to look after kids and do the house work – something how their brains are ordered allows them to specialise in you know ‘Darling did you see where I left my car keys?’ So while men are off hunting and thereby using their aggression to bring home the bacon women are pacifying the kids with their delightful socialising skills so suited to recognising the emotional needs of others and cleaning the cave These are the tasks the sexes have separately evolved to perform and while these may not have been the brains we would have chosen for the sexes ourselves so as to make the world fair – well look the world simply isn’t fair There’s no point getting all PC about this If evolution and biology have decided that half of the population need to be ‘caring’ rather than ‘logical’ well all I can say is ‘poor dears’ – there is about as much point in complaining about women’s innate difference inferiority is such an ugly word as complaining that fish are forced to live out their lives in water Viva la differenceSuch ideas essentially modern day eugenics are not only peddled by authors of limited intelligence trying to make a uick buck from the enhanced sales such sexist rubbish ensures for their books with titles like Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus or Why Men Don't Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes – but even by people with impressive sounding ualifications who write books called The Female Brain or The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human NatureLike I said if you have read some of these books you will either be feeling rather smug at the moment as if the benefits of having a penis weren’t already ample or rather annoyed It can’t be nice for one half of our population to be told they are innately lesser people But is that really what the latest science does tell us about the differences between male and female brains? Actually the truth may well surprise youRecently I wrote on one of Choupette’s reviews that I would love to find a book that explained just how the latest brain imaging technology works I mean the idea we have been encouraged to have is that it is all a bit like a video game or rather a direct window into the brain No bugger the brain a direct window into the mind as it is being constructed by the brain You lie back in an incredibly expensive piece of machinery and as the author says one that uses uantum mechanics for god sake – but she could just as easily have said and I think even impressively that uses anti matter and they get you to think of something or other solve a maths problem perhaps and then blobs light up on the parts of your brain that are doing the thinking How much proof do you need than that? Thought euals blob euals male superiority EDNo one explains that this isn’t uite ‘real time’ imaging No one explains that this is averaged difference No one explains that we don’t really know what to make of these averaged differences at what level these differences become significant for example No one explains that when the brains of dead salmon have been tested sometimes they have shown ‘significant’ emotional responses to visual stimuli All we get to see are the blobs of colour lighting up – and we assume someone smarter than us has worked out that those blobs mean something significantYou might have been lead to believe that they have done these tests and seen the blobs lighting up and they by they I mean the guys in white have seen blobs firing away in the touchy feely side of women’s brains and at the same time and with the same stimuli blobs lighting up in the hard edged logical sides of men’s brains – so everything still holds true – right? Well it’s not uite as simply as that When the author set out to follow up on some of the research that leads to the million sale books of neurosexism mentioned earlier sometimes that research was found to be somewhat lacking Did you know that the much uoted and much relied on ‘fact’ that women are better able to use both sides of their brain for tasks due to their much extensive corpus callosum was actually based on research on only fourteen brains and besides which the result from this research upon which so many sexist assumptions have been based didn’t even reach statistical significance? The thing that this book shows time and again is just how much edifice can be built on incredibly shaky foundations Sometimes it shows no foundations at allHer demolition of just a small section of The Female Brain is worth the price of the book Surely the fraudulent behaviour of the author of The Female Brain ought to disualify her for life from being able to write another book – but I see that despite a review in Nature after her first book was printed pointing out the remarkable in fact incomprehensible and gobsmacking weaknesses and down right misinformation in that book she was able to publish another on much the same topic called The Male Brain I cannot begin to tell you how outraged I am about this uite simply such work is lying and there should be an appropriate punishmentThis book contains a long section on what is becoming a particularly fascinating area of research for me – called stereotype threat This is detailed in Predictably Irrational The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and I spent the first half of the year reading many of the research papers she discusses here – if I’d read this book at the start of the year it would have made my life so much easier Stereotype threat is the remarkable situation where you can take a group of Asian women and prime half of them to think of themselves as women and the other half to think of themselves as Asian and given our stereotypes of both groups they will perform either better or worse on a maths test depending on how they have been primed And the subtle the priming the effective the result will be Merely getting women to tick a box on an exam paper stating whether they are male or female is enough to reduce their potential scoreThere is a pervasive belief particularly among middleclass parents that they already have tried to bring their kids up in a way that is ‘gender neutral’ and it simply hasn’t worked The only explanation left is that biology ‘will out in the end’ and we should just get used to the idea that gender differences are innate This book makes a remarkably strong case for the fact that our society is so ‘gendered’ it is simply impossible for anyone to bring up their children in a ‘gender neutral’ way and that really no one tries It is like we have ‘half changed our minds’ as she says repeatedly – our conscious minds tell us sexism is wrong but our actions repeatedly confirm sexism From before we are born we are constructed as male or female mothers who are told the sex of their child before it is born imagine boys kick inside them vigorously than mothers of boys who have not been told the sex of their unborn child Pinker may joke that only childless people believe in the social construction of gender – but I think it is very hard to argue that gender is not the most reinforced division in human societiesThis book is uite simply a must read There is a remarkable example in the book – a kind of Tiresias moment Tiresias being a Greek turned into a woman for seven years to settle a bet between the gods where a female lawyer undergoes a sex change operation and overhears someone say that he has proven to be much smarter than his sisterI know I’m always telling you to do this but do read this book And if you do remember it is very important to read the notes as you go For some reason Cordelia Fine has put all of the very best and most interesting information in the book particularly in the first ten chapters or so in the end notes


  3. says:

    A detailed but informal look at the pervasive power of gender stereotypes backed by science Sounds good doesn't it? Not for me though My reading of this included International Women's Day; that wasn't intentional but it felt like undeserved penance for such a day The 2 rating indicates how interesting and enjoyable this book was for me Were I rating in purely objective terms it would be a solid 3 maybe even 4 given the importance of the intended messageIn a NutshellFine debunks the deterministic views of gender that are often based on brain structure and organisation She seems to believe there are NO innate differences between the sexes which is a bit of a stretch to me However she clearly shows the impossibility of investigating possible brain differences without overestimating the multiple and often subtle effects of culture You can't raise or measure children in a societal vacuum She ridicules poorly designed experiments that assume too much from too little but presents less in her own defence It was better at giving concrete examples of how research can be misinterpreted examples below than it was at revealing anything much about genderProblems I had with This Book It doesn't know what it is it's too self consciously jokey for a serious text but with 100 of 350 pages being notes bibliography and index it's thorough than one expects in pop sci The jovial tone makes it a uick casual read but the exhaustive references would be suited to following up with one's own investigation It is painfully repetitive Fine makes good and important points but she makes the sames ones again and again and again I've summarised them below Fine is angry about bad and misinterpreted research Such things need pointing out but sometimes she picks very easy targets papers by 18th century doctors for instance or lays into one or two individuals at excessive length principally Simon Baron Cohen and Louann Brizendine Conversely she is utterly sure of her own rightness even when using anecdotal cases rather than proper studies to back up her points She criticises others for lazy stereotyping and in the next sentence suggests that men are not so keen on attending male dominated conferences because there's less opportunity for sex I am left unsure how much I trust her or those she criticises The important points she makes got lost in the haze of my mounting irritation It is narrowly about malefemale gender roles rather than the broad spectrum of gender identity which is what I am interested in However that's a fault of my expectations rather than the book itself I don't feel I learned much I read plenty of examples of experiments and studies and how to judge their validity but people like Ben Goldacre have long covered that ground very well The gender angle was the context of the debunking but largely confirmed what I already believed Key MessagesMost of these are probably familiar to the sort of people who read a book like this Stereotypes they're pervasive and powerful Even so than you think They start before birth and imbue our life as self fulfilling prophesies however much we try to go against them Even pre schoolers extrapolate beyond what they've been told seeing pointy shapes as inherently masculine than rounded ones like the boubakiki effect often used in synaesthesia studies Gender matters to them because it's the main social grouping they have other than adultchild no geeks sporty types arty divisions yet Context is all This applies to most things in life a crucial consideration in angry online grammar debates Where gender is concerned if we prime people to think of gender eg a maths exam that has a MF tick box people are likely to conform strongly to gendered expectations Neuroplasticity very little behaviour is hard wired in our brains Even if something is typical that doesn't mean it's necessary or inevitable Look carefully at psychology research Is it testing what it claims to test? Comparisons based on different levels of foetal testosterone use a variety of proxies of dubious accuracy the amount found in amniotic fluid mother's blood baby's digit length Is there unconscious bias or knowledge in the testers? If testers know the sex of a baby as they usually will that may skew how they interact Are the results borne out by the numbers? Just under 50% of women have what Baron Cohen classes as a female brain Are the assumptions fallacious? When testing toy choice are the toys really gendered the way the testers assume? Why is a pan feminine to a monkey? Reporting bias it's interesting to report a difference Studies that fail to find one may not be published Various sorts of brain imaging are sexyThey use expensive euipment to produce scientific pictures But they don't necessarily show what we think they do Beware of using biology as a fall back explanationIf a little girl loves pink despite her parents' best efforts to the contrary surely huge marketing hype and peer pressure are at least as much of a factor as hormones? As for the mother who couldn't understand why her daughter swaddled cuddled and put to bed her toy hammer perhaps the reason was that it was always her mother and never her father that put her to bed Gender neutral parenting is almost impossible to achieve Yet until a century ago it was normal for all under 5s to be dressed similarly white dresses and when colours became common it was strong red or pink for boys and pretty blue for girls When we read picture books we tend to use male pronouns for all the unspecified characters human or animal Female leads are remarkably rare in junior fiction none in 42 Dr Seuss but although there are occasional tomboys you never get a sissy boy There's a glass ceiling for ambitious women and a glass escalator for men in traditionally female dominated jobs Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar When are a few dirty cups a symbol of the exertion of male privilege and when are they merely unwashed dishes? Having it all never meant doing it all Gloria Steinem Men aren't from Mars and women aren't from Venus We're probably all from the moonSmilesSome have enjoyed the humour of this It certainly raised a couple of smiles for me but most of the witty asides struck me as rather sarcastic or just cheap uses of the sort of stereotypes she purports to hate For instance when pointing out that the widespread use of strip clubs in corporate hospitality excludes women from important networking she weakens her outrage imo by suggesting that female colleagues fake a headache and stay homeI want to end on a positive note so here are the two best ones In a passage explaining that after about 7 children tend to become slightly flexible in their thinking about gender she adds that those who don't end up with successful careers writing books based on rigid gender stereotypes with a footnote The footnote says This is a joke rather than a scientific fact Yep that really was the second best one imo Following on from caveats about over reliance on neuroimaging Fine cites an empathy study performed on salmon that were dead It produced pretty pictures of brain activity thoughSee Also• Bongiovanni and Jimerson's A uick Easy Guide to TheyThem Pronouns which I reviewed HERE It’s a comic book that is mainly about non binary and genderfluid people who don’t identify fully and consistently as either male or female so prefer non gendered nouns and pronouns • Sally Hines' Is Gender Fluid? which I reviewed HERE It also has a very youthful funky format though not comic book• Alex Iantaffi and Meg John Barker’s Life Isn’t Binary which I reviewed HERE It starts with sexualities and genders but goes on to relationships bodies emotions and thinking Barker likes “they” because “I experience myself as pretty plural”• Robert Webb's autobiography How Not to be a Boy which I reviewed HERE He cites this book as an influence on his ideas about gender preferences not being innate


  4. says:

    I decided to take a break from being girlishly bad at math and reading people's minds with my lady empathizing skills to read this book and I sure am glad I did Because it is hilarious And fascinating Cordelia Fine goes through all the old lines that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times I know I have that men's brains are just better at building stuff and making money while women are just natural nurturers they just want to nurture the shit out of everything because FEELINGS Anyways she takes a closer look at all these claims and experiments and disputes just about every one of them with scientific criticism And she does it in a way that is sarcastic and witty and readable and interesting This book mainly focuses on white middle to upper class gender construction and brain research which makes sense because most claims about brain sex differences are based on middle to upper class white folks It would be interesting however if she wrote a seuel with a wider focus And occasionally the scientific terms get a tad bit overwhelming but if you want a readable academic book about neurosexism you aren't going to find a better interesting readable bookThis book should be on the bestseller list Everyone should read this This should be in the waiting room of every maternity ward and in the break room of every public school I am so glad that I stumbled across this gem of a book and I can't recommend it highly enough It's funny and substantive and that is about the rarest a combination there is


  5. says:

    Things I have never seen1 A male harpist Well alright there was this guy But in an orchestra?2A female bishop in the Church of England3A female angler4A male nursery school teacher 5A female truck driver I'm not saying they don't exist and I'm certainly not saying they shouldn't exist it's just that I've never seen one Actually number 2 really doesn't exist which is odd as women may be ordained in the C of EThings I have heard which I really wish I hadn't1An Austrian mother who said they weren't going to send their daughter to the academic secondary school but to a vocational type school Because an education isn't so important for a girl2A sports jock who said that we'd been really unlucky to only have girls When I looked at him somewhat aghast he said it was because my husband didn't have anyone to play ball with well to do real sport with like football As Cordelia Fine says in her book you'd think that girls were born without arms or legs3Daughter number one now an IT expert so no great damage done reporting on the IT class at school there were 16 in the class and 15 computers It was always the two girls in the class who had to share a computer Every weekUpdate on January 26th 2015 Libby Lane is being consecrated today as Bishop of Stockport Well well


  6. says:

    Truly a brilliant book And laugh out loud funny in uite a few places It's a book so full of interesting information it's very tempting to write a review in which one relates one's favorite experiments factoids or statistics But I will mostly resist What I'd like to highlight are two featuresWe have all heard and perhaps told stories like the following I wanted to bring up my children in a gender neutral way but at a certain point the boy naturally took to smashing up trucks and the girl naturally took to worshipping pink princess paraphernalia So I guess these things must be innate after all This phenomenon is known to sociologists as the biology as fallback position In one particularly grating and smug riff on this theme Steven Pinker is uoted as saying there is a technical term for people who believe that little boys and little girls are born indistinguishable and are molded into their natures by parental socialization The term is 'childless' And Fine goes on to comment The frustration of the naively nonsexist parent has become a staple joke An all but obligatory paragraph in contemporary books and articles about hardwired gender differences gleefully describes a parent's valiant but always comically hopeless attempts at gender neutral parenting 190 1 But then Fine tells us about the Bems psychologists who in the 1970s decided to try gender neutral parenting seriously And what a lot it involved They would doctor all their children’s books whiting out beards lengthening hair and adding breasts to some of the illustrations no doubt to rectify the fact that in the illustrations of children’s books even today males are represented at a ratio of 21 relative to females – oops a factoid just slipped out “deleting or altering sections of the text that described females or males in a sex stereotyped manner” 215 and so on They also taught their children only to allocate people to a gender on the basis of their anatomy and reproductive functions In an amusing story the 4 year old son decided to wear barrettes in his hair to kindergarten He tried to correct his classmate’s misconception by saying that he wasn’t a girl because he had a penis not a vagina The other boy retorted “Everyone has a penis but only girls wear barrettes”As Fine points out the moral of this story is not to elicit admiration or contempt for the Bems but to illustrate just how hard it is to raise a child in a gender neutral way The best efforts of the comically frustrated liberal parents who find their kids acting according to stereotype do not show that differences in gender behavior are innate As Fine describes gendering of children is ubiuitous in the culture and intense to an almost unimaginable degree Not even the Bem children could avoid it altogether And children are acutely sensitive to the multiple instructions they receive in the very air they breathe about how to conform to their genders Children randomly assigned at preschool to a ‘red’ group or a ‘blue’ group and wearing the appropriate colored T shirts to school each day after three weeks with no further reinforcement will find themselves conforming to what they take to be the norms for their respective groups One needs little imagination to see how much intrusive the pressures on gender conformity will be even if the parents are like the BemsThis brings me to the second point I want to emphasize A host of brain researchers now present themselves as radical iconoclasts because they claim that the evidence of fMRIs etc prove that there are innate differences between male and female brains forcing them to buck the prevailing norms of political correctness in the starry eyed gender neutral utopias of which they would so much love to believe Boo hoo As Fine’s book makes amply clear science has always alighted on the newest thing – brain size spinal chord strength nerve fragility energy sapping ovaries – to show why gender ineualities that always accord greater status and power to men are natural Seen in this light fMRIs are just the latest fad Of course that doesn’t prove that the claims made about what they show are false Fine has plenty to say about how shoddy a lot of the research is how biased the interpretations of it and so on But this history is certainly salient enough that anyone presenting themselves as providing scientific evidence for gender differences in psychology and behavior risks looking somewhat ridiculous And it places a burden on such researchers to be doubly careful about extrapolating from their results This is even true in light of the fact that the existence of the claims made for what brain scans show itself influences how well people perform In tests women do less well at male stereotypical tasks when asked to read some ‘scientific’ claims about women’s innate inferiority in such tasks than if asked to read something else first These irresponsible and popular interpretations of neurological evidence neuro bollocks as they have been called do not just support the status uo; they reinforce itFine’s book packs a huge punch In a funny and easy to read way she explodes so much neuro bollocks she ought to get a prize for it


  7. says:

    If I had a dollar for every time someone friend reuested me on Goodreads because of my gender a guy who reads? wow I would probably have enough money to buy a new Kindle As a male who loves books and aims for a career in clinicalcounseling psychology a and female dominated field part of me has always wondered whether I just lack the typical male brain Are girls biologically geared toward the humanities and males toward the hard sciences? Do women really empathize than men because of their brain chemistry?Cordelia Fine offers a clear answer no In Delusions of Gender she unravels the myth that we can chalk up gender differences to our neurology With a keen and unrelenting eye she examines scientific theories and misconceptions like the role testosterone plays in the fetus She dedicates a large portion of the book to knocking down neurosexism In recent years several individuals have boasted about experiments that use fMRI and PET scans to detect differences in the brain; Fine makes sure to reveal the flaws associated with those studies and why we should be skeptical of the conclusions they espouseInstead of relying on faulty science Fine approaches gender differences from a psychological and sociological perspective As a psychology major I loved her incorporation of self fulfilling prophecy and stereotype threat such as including a study about how women who had to check a gender box either male or female performed worse on an exam than women who took the test without marking their gender The section about gender neutral parenting stood out to me too It's not enough to just offer our children toys stereotypically associated with the opposing gender especially when gender distinctions arise so soonHighly recommended for those interested in feminism neuroscience psychology or gender studies In contemporary society we often cling to claims made by people with scientific backgrounds even though some of those claims have no legitimate support I didn't go into too much depth about all of Fine's arguments in this review but she invested a laudable amount of effort into Delusions of Gender the book has about 100 pages of citations and her writing conveys her passion as well


  8. says:

    Let me boil the book down for the busy reader whenever someone chooses to ignore all the documented evidence of discrimination in favor of just so stories about biology in order to keep right on discriminating you can take their evidence as having all the validity of the presenter's good intentions to end discriminationSorry that was a long and awkward summation In justice to the book I'd prefer to be pithy funny and understandable Fine has tackled an immense and largely thankless task First she's read all those awful gender essentialist pop psych books for which she should receive medals cookies and probably hazard pay Next she's actually gone through all the books and articles making claims about how neurobiology is gender destiny That task involved a lot of the work of Simon Baron Cohen who among other things publishes on autism in a sexist and really annoying way Then she went through the references of these many works and actually looked at the studies to show where they were bad and often where they just plain don't say what the authors claim they do Finally she puts it all together along with research from many other areas in a way that is dryly amusing occasionally snarky but I think probably very clear even for those who don't read medical journals for workA sample which amused meSo let us with healthy skepticism summarize all of this as clearly as we can Nonexistent sex differences in language lateralization mediated by nonexistent sex differences in corpus callosum structure are widely believed to explain nonexistent sex differences in language skillsConfused?We've only just begun It's brilliant and authoritative and she loathes bad science reporting just as much as I do so of course I love it But I recommend it to others who might be curious about the topic as well as those who enjoy seeing bad science thoroughly mockedLawrence Sumner for example Men Can't Be Bothered to Be Nice Women Can't be Taught to Be Smart and the likeI do so I'm just guessing what the non scientist would thinkLibrary copy Israeli study shows that blinding math tests lowers boys' grades and raises girls' just as blinded auditions changed orchestrasJust to be clear It is not possible to find biological determinants of gender because gender is learned social behavior and as such varies significantly between social groups and over time


  9. says:

    I really think all educators need to read this book Fine's target is the new gender essentialism the reconstructed sexism that attempts to put women back in their traditional roles as 'unbenders of husbands' brows' and caregivers to children and to keep them out of politics mathematics and the sciences by asserting that they are fitted for their place by essential female abilities and incapacities In 1869 the philosopher John Stuart Mill in his book The Subjection of Women was severe on this fallacy but like a zombie it just keeps getting up backed by the bad science fad of the day 'Neurosexists' are advising school leaders to adjust their teaching for gender differences and with the threat of 'empathy based math' looming Fine felt she must call a halt She selects some choice uotes to show us how little the new sexism differs from the old this is a very funny book then proceeds to dismantle it with a three pronged attackFirst she explores the construction of gender and explains aspects of the present ineuality from her perspective in social psychology She uotes trans woman Jan Morris who describes her former competence in matters of car reversing and bottle opening evaporating after her transition in the face of others' assumptions about her The power of stereotyping is not to be ignored; Fine uotes study after study to show how strongly most people whether consciously or not associate women with empathy and caregiving and men with maths science and power and how priming gender affects subseuent thinking and performance Simply reminding a candidate that she is a woman drastically reduces her score on a maths test demonstrating an effect called 'stereotype threat' which is amazingly easy to remove including an introduction to a test telling participants that 'in ten years of data gathering no gender related performance difference has been found' dramatically boosts the performance of women and girls Cross cultural comparisons also prove instructive making nonsense of ethnocentric gender assumptionsFine explores how stereotypes and the lack of role models work against women in the workplace and in education This section is broadly relevant to racial social class disabled LGBT etc representation and the double bind problem of administrators appointing people like themselves on one side and aspirations being damped by the invisibility of marginalised groups on the other CVs with female names are rated lower and receive fewer responses than identical ones with male names Fine also indicts sexist work practices such as entertaining clients in strip clubs Stereotypes also operate in the home where men are conditioned to believe themselves incompetent the hunter brings home the the carcass and collapses to stare into the fire unless jar opening brawn or plug wiring brains are reuired Fine demonstrates that men are very competent parents Even rat dads with no hormone tampering are readily able to raise perfectly adjusted rat kidsSurveying the data Fine finds very scant evidence for the assumption that women are empathic than men; there is no magical female ability to read people's thoughts and slight differences in young children could easily be due to parents talking to infant girls The evidence for male superiority in mathematicalanalytical tasks is also thin restricted to performance at mentally rotating 3D objects Even this could be due to exposure to active toys and in any case hardly constitutes an excuse to exclude women from the workplace Fine is hilarious when exposing the loaded survey uestions that have been used to find gender differences Research makes it very clear that people will rate themselves higher or lower on abilities stereotyped to or against their gender especially when that aspect of their identity has been primed The search for gender determined ability differences continues with a painstaking survey and critiue of the popular literature enthusiastically claiming they exist and the neurological and psychological research which has supposedly found them Fine is incisive in her discussion and criticism of studies around the effect of testosterone including play differences but she is damning when it comes to the shocking dishonesty and misrepresentation employed by 'neurosexist' popular 'science' books Oh and if you don't manage to read this book please take it from me here and now that anyone trying to persuade you of a gender difference on the basis of pictures from brain scans is to be scornfully ignoredThe final section deals with how children are socialised to perform gender Many parents assume they are providing gender neutral parenting and 'fall back' on a biological explanation when their little girls demand pink dresses and dolls Fine shows just how far parents have to go to eliminate the pressure to perform gender by recording the hilarious experience of the Bem family forced to such lengths as denying that they knew the gender of friends and erasing beards from picture books How can a preference for pink be genetic? In Victorian times it was a male colour while girls wore tranuil Virgin Mary blue Fine demonstrates with survey after survey and study after brilliant study that gender roles are pushed on us by our culture not our chromosomes'As neurophysiologist Ruth Bleier put it over two decades ago we should view biology as potential as capacity and not as static identity Biology itself is socially influenced and defined; it changes and develops in interaction with and in response to our minds and environment as our behaviours do Biology can be said to define possibilities but not determine them; it is never irrelevant but it is also not determinant'


  10. says:

    This nature vs nurture debate is getting oldThis book argues against the claim that women and men have different brains and that this difference causes women to be significantly better or worse at some things and men significantly better or worse at others As far as I knew few legitimate scientists today make this claim which is clearly sexist and would justify discrimination so I was pretty surprised and somewhat skeptical to discover this immense sexist contingent among brain scientists and psychologists some of whom are women I've heard of some of them Steven and Susan Pinker were clearly misrepresented Others such John Gray aren't even scientistsThis book spends most of its pages presenting psychological studies showing that people are suggestible that messages from the culture can influence one's confidence and feeling of belonging even their very identity and personality and that this can impact their abilities to perform or their interest in a subject All this does is show that society can influence people not that brain differences can'tMany of the studies in this book seem legitimate and factual Some of it was pretty persuasive and really made me think But the presentation of these studies often seemed to exaggerate them For example after discussing subtle ways social cues and whether one feels they belong can influence people to prefer and perform differently all very reasonable the book concludes A few words to the effect that a Y chromosome will serve in your favor or a sprucing up of the interior design is all that it takes to bring about surprisingly substantial changes in career interest Having seen what effect on career interests a simple brief manipulation in the lab can have one can't help but wonder at the cumulative influence of that giant inescapable social psychology lab known as lifeWait so there were some findings of subtle influence in a lab and so the book's conclusion based only on one can't help but wonder is that only a few words is all it takes for substantial changes in career interest in life? That's a huge exaggeration of the findings It's also pure speculation based on ideology not facts based on evidence Actually it seems pretty sexist to claim that women are so flimsy and suggestible It sounds suspiciously like the delicate flower argument of traditionalists Be careful what you say to girls lest you crush their fragile little spirits I know it would take a hell of a lot than a few words to talk me out of my dreamsHere's another gem This anecdote suggests a workplace environment that tolerates a deep disrespect for women Mmm anecodotes suggesting deep things Now there's some seriously rigorous researchSometimes she's clearly reaching Like when she talks about a study that found gender differences in babies who are only one day old She claims this study was flawed because there could have been some socialization that happened in that one day since their birthAn argument this book uses over and over again is scientists were wrong before I can almost hear neener neener behind the words So what? Scientists are wrong all the time That's how science works Being wrong isn't cause for dismissal in science That's what ideology does Being wrong in the past does not imply claims in the present are false This is called the continuum fallacy and it's usually employed by pseudoscience cranks like creationists and global warming deniersConsider the facts that are not in dispute We know that humans are a sexually dimorphic species Men and women are physically different They have different reproductive systems and different physical proportions We know that sexual selection is a part of the evolutionary process and we know that males and females have had vastly different selective pressures which have manifested as different mating behaviors in all other dimorphic speciesSo this theory that all of gender psychology is socialized is extremely tenuous It does not suare with what we know about evolution All that is reuired to falsify it is evidence of only one difference It only takes evidence of one innate psychological difference between men and women to prove that there is at least SOME difference Once that is established then it's only a uestion of which differences are genetic and how significant they areSince that is all that is reuired and since this theory is based on presuppositions from feminist ideology than evidence based the easiest way to disprove it is to offer one piece of evidence that coincides with mainstream feminist ideology so they cannot possibly dispute it I will do that nowMost psychologists now agree that sexual preference is at least in part an innate psychological characteristic Homosexuality is innate in some individuals For the rest of us men are innately attracted to women and women are innately attracted to men On average there is a vast difference between men and women as to which gender they find sexually appealing You cannot socialize children to be gay so there is no reason to deny gays the right to marry and it's abusive to try to socialize young homosexuals to be heterosexual This is a position most feminists take very strongly and it's clearly an innate psychological difference between men and womenThe exception is lesbian feminism This is the position that sexual orientation is socialized and that lesbianism is a choice and therefore a legitimate political act However this form of feminism is extremely contentious within the movement as it opens the door for homophobiaOh and then you have difference feminism complete with their own uack psychologists such as Carol Gilligan who claim that yes there are innate differences between men and women but that women's way of knowing is superior to men's I wonder why this wasn't one of those sexist psychologists with talk of brain differences between men and women to be debunked in this book Strange that It seems fallacious gender research gets a free pass as long as it's sexist in the right direction Indeed this book seems to be on board with difference feminism in the chapter Backwards and in High Heels ie everything a man can do a woman can do better in spite of all society does to limit her that's how bad ass she isThis isn't science It's reasoning based on what's politically expedient and expecting reality to conform to that If there are innate differences then she should just say so and stop euivocating Then we can get on to the interesting discussion of how much difference is innate and how significant those differences are It may very well turn out that women are superior to men but they can't simultaneously be better and the sameThe sad thing is this book is very interesting and insightful in so many other ways in outlining some ways human behavior is socialized It could very easily have been a valuable part of that discussion Why can't that be enough? The intellectually honest position would have been to admit that there is much we still don't understand about human psychology and the evidence so far seems to indicate that there is at least some difference between the psychology of men and women but that it is the belief of the author that these differences are not hugely significant and that socialization also plays a major role If that's all she did I'd have trusted this book so much As it stands I find myself dubious even of claims that sound reasonableAdvice for the author check your ideology at the door and let the evidence speak for itself rather than trying to exaggerate or stretch it to fit into your worldview Oh and knock off all the outrage How you feel about what scientists discover has no bearing on the merit of their research It only discredits your presentation of it by making readers suspicious of confirmation bias and emotional reasoning It feels less like science and like propaganda At best it is merely distractingIf you like this book please read The Blank Slate It will show you a completely different side of this issue