Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gender Differences

A friend forwarded me the following story (we scream, we swoon). The article is written by a woman about gender differences, with particular criticism for the female sex.

Yes, I'll admit, as a gender we are sometimes ridiculously superficial and dumb. Obama isn't the first presidential candidate to attract female voters based on his swoon-worthy appearance (e.g. JFK), yet even with the beginnings of female contenders, can you ever see males voting for president based on her sex appeal? Yes, some of us have a ridiculous obsession with looks, spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery, botox, etc just to avoid the effects of aging. And yes, as a whole we seem to support intellectually void literature way more than necessary.

However, the author fails to acknowledge the stereotypical male equivalents of such silly shananigans. Take, for instance, the general male obsession with sports, willingness to spend entire days watching other people play on tv, bestowing personal worth based on athletic talent on strangers and family alike, and spending thousands of dollars on high-definition televisions to capture the action better. Another example to view is the willingness of males (more so than females) to resort to violence to solve our differences. And don't get me started on the amount of time and money males spend on hard-core porn (as opposed to the romance novel soft-core equivalents).

The author also choses to cite studies that rely on standardized testing. For those who are unaware, in the scientific community standardized means to test "intelligence" are highly controversial, often biased toward higher socio-economic status and the male gender. For a personal anecdote of gender differences in spatial perception, last year we had a question on a robotics exam that required us to analyze a sketch of a 3 dimensional robot. All 5 females in the class saw the robot differently than our 15 male counterparts and answered the questions accordingly, and didn't realize why our answers were all off until we discussed the drawing with the teacher. On subsequent exams, he used another method to show 3 dimensions, and the females went back to scoring above average.

What I'm saying is this: regardless of gender, people as a whole are not always the brightest. We obsess over stupid things. We focus on the superficial and popular rather than the deep and meaningful. Yes, there are population gender differences, but why should we seek to define any group of people based on the mean? And if one is going to base her arguments on scientific studies, perhaps she should investigate the methods used and what inherent bias they might have. At the very least, perhaps one should use her criticisms to encourage change in her gender's habits, instead of sitting back and accepting inferiority.

No comments: