Gender and manliness essay example

Implicitly and explicitly, the argument goes, culture tells men and women how men and women should behave. My guest today argues that the drivers of male and female behavior are little more complex than that. Her name is Louann Brizendine.

Gender and manliness essay example

Share via Print At school, girls and boys show similar levels of ability in the sciences. One day after school, I excitedly pointed him out to my mother. To my amazement, she looked at him with shock and said with disgust: I looked over at my teacher and, for the first time, realized that he was an African-American.

I had somehow never noticed his skin colour before, only his spectacular teaching ability. I would like to think that my parents' sincere efforts to teach me prejudice were unsuccessful.

I don't know why this lesson takes for some and not for others. Hypothesis testing Last year, Harvard University president Larry Summers suggested that differences in innate aptitude rather than discrimination were more likely to be to blame for the failure of women to advance in scientific careers.

Harvard professor Steven Pinker then put forth a similar argument in an online debate, and an almost identical view was elaborated in a essay by Peter Lawrence entitled 'Men, Women and Ghosts in Science'.

Gender and manliness essay example

Whereas Summers prefaced his statements by saying he was trying to be provocative, Lawrence did not. Lawrence argued that, even in a utopian world free of bias, women would still be under-represented in science because they are innately different from men.

He further argues that men are innately better equipped to aggressively compete in the 'vicious struggle to survive' in science. I will refer to this view—that women are not advancing because of innate inability rather than because of bias or other factors—as the Larry Summers Hypothesis.

It is a view that seems to have resonated widely with male, but not female, scientists. Here, I will argue that available scientific data do not provide credible support for the hypothesis but instead support an alternative one: You might call this the 'Stephen Jay Gould Hypothesis' see left.

As to who the practitioners of this bias are, I will be pointing my finger at women as much as men.

The sums don't add up

I am certain that all the proponents of the Larry Summers Hypothesis are well-meaning and fair-minded people, who agree that treatment of individuals should be based on merit rather than on race, gender or religion stereotypes. The sums don't add up Like many women and minorities, however, I am suspicious when those who are at an advantage proclaim that a disadvantaged group of people is innately less able.

Historically, claims that disadvantaged groups are innately inferior have been based on junk science and intolerance. Despite powerful social factors that discourage women from studying maths and science from a very young age, there is little evidence that gender differences in maths abilities exist, are innate or are even relevant to the lack of advancement of women in science.

A study of nearly 20, maths scores of children aged 4 to 18, for instance, found little difference between the genders, and, despite all the social forces that hold women back from an early age, one-third of the winners of the elite Putnam Math Competition last year were women.

Moreover, differences in maths-test results are not correlated with the gender divide between those who choose to leave science. I will explain why I believe that the Larry Summers Hypothesis amounts to nothing more than blaming the victim, why it is so harmful to women, and what can and should be done to help women advance in science.

If innate intellectual abilities are not to blame for women's slow advance in science careers, then what is? The foremost factor, I believe, is the societal assumption that women are innately less able than men.

Here are a few examples of bias from my own life as a young woman. As an undergrad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITI was the only person in a large class of nearly all men to solve a hard maths problem, only to be told by the professor that my boyfriend must have solved it for me.

I was not given any credit. I am still disappointed about the prestigious fellowship competition I later lost to a male contemporary when I was a PhD student, even though the Harvard dean who had read both applications assured me that my application was much stronger I had published six high-impact papers whereas my male competitor had published only one.

These studies reveal that in many selection processes, the bar is unconsciously raised so high for women and minority candidates that few emerge as winners. For instance, one study found that women applying for a research grant needed to be 2.

Even for women lucky enough to obtain an academic job, gender biases can influence the relative resources allocated to faculty, as Nancy Hopkins discovered when she and a senior faculty committee studied this problem at MIT. The data were so convincing that MIT president Charles Vest publicly admitted that discrimination was responsible.To survive in a hostile world, guys need to embrace girly jobs and dirty diapers.

Why it’s time to reimagine masculinity at work and at home. While the pre-Code roles of Jean Harlow are never discussed as teen films they were crucially girl roles, dominated by the question of who Harlow’s characters would become.

Gender however is in relation to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, and expectations of what characteristics men or women should portray. Anyone given the opportunity to describe men, they would say words like dominant, non emotional, macho, aggressive, and to be the provider and protector of his family.

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Gender and manliness essay example

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