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8. Gender Differences.




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This article is from the Feminism References FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore tittle@netcom.com with numerous contributions by others.

8. Gender Differences.

Benbow, Camilla Persson. "Sex differences in mathematical reasoning
ability in intellectually talented preadolescents. Their nature,
effects, and possible causes," _Behavioral and Brain Sciences_,
11(1988).169-232.
Talks about the reasons in variations on math scores between males
and females. Her paper is nice in that it also reviews a lot of
the literature.

Benderly, Beryl Lieff. _The Myth Of Two Minds: What Gender Means and
Doesn't Mean_. Doubleday, New York, 1987.
Benderly had heard of scads of new research claiming to have
proven innate biological differences between the brains of men and
women, and decided to do a comprehensive overview of them. She
was surprised to find that *none* of this research proved what it
purported to.

Deaux, K. and T. Emswiller. "Explanations of Successful Performance
on Sex-Linked Tasks: What is skill for the male is luck for the female",
_Journal of Personality and Social Psychology_, 29 (1974), 80-85.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. _Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about
Women and Men_. Basic Books, New York. 1985.
Describes the methods used in research purporting to support
intrinsic differences in women and men. Includes a clear
explanation of intra-group variability: even if there are more men
on the high end of the bell curve in math, the bell curves overlap
so much that this makes no significant difference in the amount of
mathematical aptitude of the sexes when compared against each
other and tells nothing about a given woman and a given man.

Frieze, Irene H. _et al_. _Women And Sex Roles: A Social Psychological
Perspective_. Norton, New York. 1978.
This is a social psychology textbook, and is a handy
resource available for debunking all kinds of sexist claims about
men and women.

Gould, Steven Jay. _The Mismeasure of Man_. Norton, New York. 1981.
A lucid description of how researcher expectations can influence
experimental findings (gender issues is peripheral, but the
analogies are clear).

Halper, Diane F.. _Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities_. Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdate, NJ. 1986.
The author presents the hypotheses and research that point to the
roles of nature and nurture in explaining differences in cognitive
ability; final chapter has an excellent summary.

Holloway, Marguerite, "Profile: Vive la Difference", _Scientific
American_, October 1990, 18-42.

Kimura, Doreen. "Sex Differences in the Brain," in _Scientific
American_ September 1992.
Based on her experiments and others', she concludes that
intellectual differences in men and women cannot be purely
environmental, because of the effects that sex hormones have on
brains, even before puberty.

Lewontin, Richard, Stephen Rose and Leon J. Kamin. _Not In Our Genes:
Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature_. Panthon Books, New York. 1984.
The authors are on a mission to dismantle biological determinism
entirely, right down to its underpinnings in reductionist
materialist philosophy. One needn't agree with them to the same
extent to see the validity of the debunking. Check out the chapter
on "The Determined Patriarchy."

Medzian, Miriam. _Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link between
Masculinity and Violence_.
It's a fascinating book, and if you're concerned about the problem
you should read this. She cites some fascinating studies; for a
teaser, let me mention a study by Hilda and Seymour Parker of the
University of Utah on child abuse. They found a significant
correlation between lack of involvement in child care and
nurturance, and child abuse. This supports a major thesis of the
book, which is that the willingness to commit unprovoked violent
acts arises from inability to connect emotionally with others.

Moir, Anne, and David Jessel. _Brain Sex: The Real Difference between
Men and Women_. Carol Publishing Group, 1991.
This book makes the same assertion as Kimura's article and
discusses how the brain of a fetus is "imprinted" with a certain
sex based on exposure to hormones at a certain critical time in
its development in the womb (about six or seven weeks after
conception). It goes on to explain how the brains of men and
women actually function differently, e.g., men tend to use the
right side of their brain when working on an abstract problem
while women use both sides.

Montagu, Ashley. _The Natural Superiority of Women_. Macmillan
Publishing Company, New York. c1952. New Revised Edition, 1974.
[Author is male.] From foreword: "This book is designed to bring
the sexes closer together, not to set them apart by placing one
above the other. If in these pages the natural superiority of
women is emphasized, it is because the fact has thus far received
far too little attention, and the time is long overdue that both
men and women become aware of it and fully understand its
superiority." The author makes a distinction between *natural*
or biological superiority and social equality of women and men.

Petersen, Anne C. "Biopsychosocial Processes in the Development of
Sex-related Differences", Jacquelynne E. Parsons, ed. _The
Psychobiology of Sex Differences and Sex Roles_. Hemisphere
Publishing Company, Washington. 1980. 31-56.

Pomerleau, Andree, Daniel Bolduc, Gerard Malcuit, and Louise Cossette.
"Pink or Blue: Environmental Gender Stereotypes in the First Two Years
of Life", _Sex Roles: A Journal of Research_, 22 (1990) 359- 367.

Travis, Carol. _The Mismeasure of Woman_. Simon and Schuster. 1992.
The theme is that women are criticized for being too female, or
not female enough - but are mismeasured - by how well they fit
into a male world. Further that the social system dislikes
*angry* women, and that men avoid the responsibility for changing
laws and economic or political policies that hurt women. Travis
takes a thoughtful rather than combative approach and is more
likely to poke fun rather than harshly criticize.

 

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