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Ocean of Freedom
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"2017-08-25 17:28:39"
Steven Pinker - What We Know About Gender Differences
\\our it up privileged to be engaged in a conversation with my colleague Elizabeth's Phalke we go back a long way high we've been colleagues both act at MIT where I helped attract her and at Harvard where he helped attract me I like it of most people in my field I for Liz's brilliant because additions to our time to of the origins of cognition I but we do find ourselves I would from a different perspectives on a I for those of you who just arrived from Mars there's been a certain amount of discussion accurate Harvard on a particular date and that is the under representation of women among tenure track faculty elite universities in physical science math and engineering and hear some ... recent figures now are as with many issues in psychology there are 3 broad classes of explanations ... one can imagine acoustically nature position that males but not females have the talents and temperaments necessary for science needless to say ... only a madman could believe that and bad there aren't any but at that position there's an extreme nurture position that males and females are biologically indistinguishable and all the relevant sector products of social isolation and bias and then there's an intermediate position that the difference is explainable by some combination of biological differences in average temperaments and talents interacting with socializing Asian and bias well this has embraced ... the extreme nurture position ironically enough because I candidly in cognitive science he and I are always put in the same camp as I'd be innate ist's when it comes to explaining the mind but a little sad that there is not a shred of evidence to the biological factor that the case against there being a male advantages so overwhelming that it is hard to see how one can make a case for it on the other side and that this is as conclusive as any finding that I know of in well we certainly aren't ... facing the ... stereotypical gender difference in confidence here ha ha I'm it yeah I'm a I'm a controversial guy had taken a lot of controversial position ... over the years and that I as a member of homo sapiens I think I'm right on all of them but I'm on the other hand I don't think that any of them I would say that there's not a shred of evidence for the other side that ... even the evidence favors one side I don't I would not say that the other side can't even make a case even if I think that their case is not as good as the opposite and ask for I conclude that any finding I inspired this is social science this would imply that the stream nurture positions more convincing than say the evidence that he hung over the center of the solar system on the lot of them theory of evolution plate tectonics Helen I think these are rather extreme statements I'm especially in light of the fact that there is an enormous amount of ... work summarized in in the ... these and many other literature reviews fact I in fact come to a very different conclusion and I'm also like from one of them a I'm book called sex differences in cognitive abilities by Diane helper a out respected psychologist recently elected president of the EPA and someone with no theoretical axe to grind certainly did not subscribe to any particular theory and it's been a critic for example of evolutionary psychology here's what he wrote in the preface to her book at the time I started writing this book seemed clear to me that any between sex differences and thinking abilities who do to socialize ation practices artifact and mistakes in the research after reviewing a pilot journal articles that stood several feet high numerous books and book chat worth the stack of journal articles I changed my mind the literature on sex differences in cognitive abilities is filled with inconsistent findings contradictory theories and emotional claims that are unsupported by the research yet despite all the noise in the data clear and consistent messages I heard there are meal and in some cases typeable sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities socialization practices are undoubtedly important but there's also good evidence that biological factors play a role in establishing and maintaining cognitive sex differences a conclusion I wasn't prepared to make when I began reviewing the relevant this effect captures my assessment like now our again for the benefit of IBM Martians in this room how this isn't just any old issue and I incurable psychology and that there are some political colorings to it and so I want to begin with ... just a confession of my own politics that is how I am a feminist I believe that women have been ... oppressed ruminating against and harassed for thousands of years I believe that the act 2 waves of the feminist movement in the twentieth century ... are among the proudest achievements in he sees on Pat happy to live through one of them and I including the effort to increase representation OB but in our in order to endorse this claim I think it's crucial to distinguish between the moral proper people should not be disk emanated against on a the best that for a family the empirical playing it may also be biologic these are not thing indeed distinguishing them I think or since anyone who said honest interest in science here for the facts to come out either way essential that we don't hold the ideal family hostage to the latest findings that come out of the lab or field which would only result in I it became up one way saying that I guess sex discrimination wasn't so bad after all or else in our furiously spin doctoring the recipe scientific results to preserve the political principle the truth cannot be sexist and I whatever the facts turn out to be I don't think they cop the core Arafat feminism what what study sex differences I believe me being the Bobby Riggs of cognitive science is not my idea of a good time ... and I'm white study them I don't it's not the focus of my own research but on the other hand ... as a curious person are the difference between the sexes is up part of our of the human condition ... we all have a mother and father we are most of us are attracted to members of the opposite sex in the rest of us know noticed the difference out from those who do and we can't help but notice the fact that our children friends and colleagues in every walk of life also the topic of the past sex differences has is a great scientific interest the fundamental problem in biology because sex goes back probably a 1000000000 years differences there's a interesting theory which I won't have time to get into that predicts that there should be an overall with equal investment organisms in males and females neither affects predicted to be superior or inferior but also an elegant theory ... Bob traverse theory of differential minimum parental investment highly specific predictions about when you should expect also with the practical importance ... I think there are aspects of the world that we want to change but if we want to change the world we must first understand it and that includes understanding the sources of sex differences so let me get back to the data to be explained in many ways this is a very exotic phenomenon ... it involves biologically unprepared talents and temperaments evolution certainly did not take any part of her mind in order to be a app professor of mechanical engineering at MIT for example ... and so the data has nothing to do with basic ... cognitive processes or those that we use in our everyday lives ... in school or even at in most college courses where indeed there are few separately so this data is not about art that kind performance we're also talking about extremes of achievement our most women are not qualified to be math professors at Harvard because most men are qualified to be at Harvard we are talking about ... extremes in the population we're talking about a subset of fields that it is not the case that women are under represented to that extent in all academic fields and certainly not in all prestigious professions and also we're talking about a statistical fact this is such a crucial point that I want to ... ... discussed in some detail women are no where near absent even from the fields in which they are underrepresented I and the explanations for differences must be statistical as well and here is just a touchstone for this entire discussion harden these are 2 calcium or normal to distributions bell curves where this is a I anything that you want to measure the X. axis the Y. axis is the opera portion of people act that ability this is what it typically looks like when you compare the sexes on any measure in which they differ mainly have we we have produced example if we say that this is the male curve and this is the female current at the newest may be different but at any particular level of the variable there are always representatives of both genders I'm so right away I number of ... statements that have been made in events of the last couple of that's simply red herrings ... that should not have been made by people who understand this such as the accusation that for example president summers implied that 50 percent of the brightest mine America did not have the right attitude science that women just can't cut it ... and so on these are I think distinctly illiterate and have nothing to do with our what we're actually discussing that report a corollary of 2 overlapping normal distributions one of them is that the normal distribution falls off according to the negative exponential of the square of the difference from the mean and that means that even with small differences in the names of 2 distributions the more extreme the score the greater the disparity in the that is the ratios get more extreme as you go farther out along the tail if we hold the magnifying glass ... up to the tales of the distribution even though they overlap over the bulk of the curve when you get out to the extremes the difference between the 2 curves gets larger and larger which means I hope to give you an example we know that the distribution of height between men and women are overlap it's not the case that all men are taller than all women I am at 5 foot 10 I there are 30 men for every woman where is it 6 feet there are 2000 and for now the asset differences in cognition tend not to be in like that that's just reinforce the another important corollary is the tail ratios are affected by differences variants and ... biologists since Darwin have noted that from many traits and many species males are the more variable gender so even in cases where the need for a women in the mean for man is saying the fact that there are more men ... dispersed at the extremes means that if the tales the portion of man higher at one tail and higher at the other I some as it sometimes I summarized ... more prodigies more idiots so let's let me out let me begin with the 3 first point in connecting the political issue to the scientific issue and that is that ... has economists who study patterns of discrimination have long argued often to no avail there's a crucial conceptual difference between a difference and discrimination that a departure from 505050 ratio in any profession does not by itself imply discrimination unless the interests and aptitudes are statistically equated and let me just illustrate that with an example and I'll use myself ... I am in a field that is ... in fact ... dominated by women has 75 percent of the I mean professional association the study of how languages email as our majority of the keynote speakers at our main conference ... I'm here to tell you that it's not because I was I discriminated against I decided to study language development as opposed to say a mechanical engineering offer many reasons I don't think that ... designing a better automobile transmission is would turn me on as much as ... figuring out how kids acquire language I don't think I'd be as good at it as I am studying child language I'm now all we need to do in order to explain our differences it without the movie getting anyone not upset about possible sexist interpretation is to be a lot to ask whether whatever traits that I have that give me that predisposition are exactly equally distributed statistically among men and among women for all those of you out there who also were not we can I'm engineers then you should I understand what I'm talking I am both genders okay there many similarities between the sexes there are no differences in general intelligence orgy they are exactly the same on the money basic categories of cognition how we negotiate our world that our everyday life our concept of objects number of people living things someone showed no differences and indeed in cases where there are differences this pretty much as many instances in which men do slightly better than women as in which women do slightly better than men just to give you a few examples manner better it throwing women are more dextrous men are better at mentally rotating shapes women are better at visual memory men are better at problem solving out when they're better at not calculations and on and on and on but there are 6 differences that are relevant to this data ... I'd be miniaturists harnesses so enormous back down I'm ... I can only touch her fraction of and I was myself to a few cases where there are enormous datasets war meta and now well down the literature the first difference long noted by ... economist at any point had good men and women differ in what they state how are their own priorities in life that dude's coming up men on average are more likely to chase status at the expense of our family women give a different waiting now again thinks it just sticks it doesn't mean that ... women value family and not status it doesn't mean that men value status or not family nor does it mean that every last woman or every last man has this asymmetry by and large data sets on average that find and one just one example of this is in the study of mathematically precocious you are in this case 1729 people who were selected in I. seventh grade for being in the top one percent of ability in mathematics these are our men and women who are then followed up decades later they are certainly equally talented I if anyone has ever been encouraged map science and these kids were both genders fair equal in terms that they are levels of achievement and their peak they report being equally satisfied with the course of their lives I none the less there are a number of statistical differences in what they say is important to them I it is there a number of cases in which our emails great things higher than males such the building to have a part time career for a limited time in one 's life living close to parents and relatives having a meaningful spiritual life having strong friendships for the trait that man rate to be have rated higher than women on average ... they are include having lots of money I'm venting or creating something having a full time career being successful in my line of work I am it's worth noting that studies of highly successful people note that single mindedness had it is a recurring trait in the I. geniuses of both sexes I have just one other figure from this data set are hasn't you might expect this this sample has a lot of people who like to work herculean hours lot of people who like to work ... 5060 even 7 out of 70 hours a week but there are slight differences each 1 of these ranges they're slightly more men and women who want to ... ... don't care what they're not they have a life yeah our second hot people versus things and ... abstract will systems there is a staggering amount of data on this because there's a whole field and psychology and economics studies people's vocational interests I bet most people in this room taken one of those tests at some point in their lives and there are consistent differences in the kinds of I things that appeal to men and women in their ideal job I'll just discuss one of them which is it area ... desire to work with people versus things where there is a enormous that is one standard deviation in terms of how men over women ... and indeed this will tend to cause people to gravitate in slightly different directions for the are the occupation that strongest at the people and of this continuum is a director of a community services organization the occupations that responds to things and are there the fifth chemist mathematician impute a programmer and biologist I'm and we see this not only in the choice of whether to go into such into ... science but also in which branch of science the sexes go into I needless to say from 1970 to 2002 there's been a huge increase in the in the percentage of our degrees awarded to women high among the PHP script sample you find a ... difference will take the year 2001 that in education 65 percent of the doctors go to women 54 percent of social science degrees 47 percent of life science 26 percent of physical fine 17 percent of engineering which is perfectly predictable by the continuum between people and living things and inanimate objects and this is pretty much the same in 1980 and 2001 despite change with numbers third I would risk out men are by far the more reckless sex I in a large meta analysis involving 150 studies and 100000 participants in 14 out of 16 categories of risk taking on men were over represented ... at the 2 sexes were equal in the other 21 of which was was I smoking for obvious reasons I and 2 of the largest sex differences were in intellectual risk taking and participation in a risky experiment and I think it's because of this that we are in everyday life we do see such a difference men are very much overrepresented in the following categories I may meet the Darling large member aiding those individuals who travel long term survival of our species by removing himself from the gene pool in a surprisingly idiotic fashion in which I think virtually all perhaps all of the winners and I'm 43 dimensional mental transformations the ability to determine whether the each of these pairs of objects represents fame 3 to Sheik are in a again all appeal to a ... a meta analysis to it in 86 data sets 100000 subjects and the authors say we are specified a number of tests that show highly significant factor but a stable across age at least after puberty and of not decreased in recent years I think in this case test there is the advantage goes to the men although as I mentioned the advantage goes to women in other icons of spatial ability but a mental rotation spatial perception and spatial visualization I there are next to it is in tipping in the mail direction now what does that have any relevance to scientific achievement well we don't really know for sure but there's some reason to think that it is that ... 3 dimensional I spatial visualisation is correlated with mathematical problem solving and it figures prominently in the ... memoirs of introspection ... most ... creative physicists and chemists I'm putting Faraday Maxwell Tesla calculate I'm Lawrence all of whom claim to a hit upon their discoveries by ... dynamic and visual imagery and only later stepping down equations a typical quote is as follows psychical entities which seem to service elements in my thought are certain signs and more less clear images it can be voluntarily reproduced in combined hominid Tory place seems to be the essential feature in productive thought before there's any connection with logical construction words or other kind and that is a quote from a fairly well known scientists of mathematical reasoning ... girls and women get better school grades in mathematics and pretty much everything else these days I'm and women are better at mathematical calculation fact are consistently men I Scorton statistically better on mathematical word problems and on tests of mathematical reasoning ... again the a meta analysis 2 it'd 54 data sets 3000000 subjects shows no significant difference in childhood this is the difference that emerges ... act around puberty but there are sizeable differences in adolescence and adulthood especially in high end samples ... here's a an example of the asset mathematical I score where there's about a 40.difference in favor of men that's pretty much consistent from 1970 to 2 I 19 7 in the set study of mathematically precocious youth in which ... seventh graders were given the SAT which of course ordinarily is administered only to college bound and gives you a much older and the ratio of those scoring over 700 is a 2.8 to one meal and that admittedly had interestingly that's down from 25 years ago when it was a 13 to one Sheldon perhaps the reasons ... about ... at the 760 cut off the ratio I now would 721 male female not while they're discrepancy with grades I'm do athlete he's another test of mathematical reasoning under predict grades or 2 grades over predict high and aptitude I'm happy right quick form ... lives was very explicit in which side she takes thing that the tests are no good but it well one question is why did every night major graduate program including MIT and Harvard the very departments where Liz and I selected our graduates do I'm looking at GRE scores still use them if they're so useless I think the reason is second parents school grades in which you are are often often are affected by homework by solving the kind of problems that have already been presented in lecturing books the aptitude tests are designed to test the application the application of mathematical knowledge to unfamiliar problems which is of course the way that matter used in actually doing math and science I am in fact I think contrary to popular opinion of ... Liz and I many intellectuals ... the tests are very good there's an enormous amount of data on the predictive ... power out if a teacher are among people in science careers they overwhelmingly score in the ninetieth percentile in the patentee are a E. now I and they predict earnings occupational choice doctoral degrees the prestige of one 's degree I had the probability of having a tenure track position and number of patents moreover this predictive power is the same for men and women as for why there is that under protection spite and prediction one tenth of the standard deviation to graduate grades I the ... ... College Board did do a study on that and they were able to explain it by a combination of choice of major which differs among sexist and the greater conscientious of women solving that mystery finally as variability I hear it's crucial to have because estimates vary in hand on the tales of the distribution which by definition are are less numerous I and I since people at the pills are likely to be weeded out of many surveys for various reasons important I'd have large representative samples from national populations and for this the gold standard is the science paper by Novell and hedges I with 6 large stratify probability samples in which they found that in 35 and 35 at 35 and 37 tests including all of the ones in Matt space and science the male variance is greater than the female variance one other a gold standard data set is psalm this craft house where the entire population of Scotland was given an intelligence test I what we have here this is like here where the media for 100 and I this is the proportion of man and the proportion of women as you can see there's a very orderly finding in the middle part of the range emails predominate both extremes male slightly part needless to say there's a large to give women at both ends as well but there is also a now the fact that these differences exist does not mean that they are innate and this of course is a much more difficult to answer are too up a prelude is that ... nature and nurture are not alternatives it is possible that the answer involves some of each I but I think that there are 10 kinds of evidence that we suggest that the contribution of biology is greater than 0 Otis certainly nowhere near 100 first is that there are lots of mechanism biological mechanisms by which a sex difference I could occur there are large differences in hot sex hormones in men and women especially prenatally in the first 6 months of life and in ... adolescence after puberty there are receptors for hormones all over the brain including the cerebral cortex there are many small differences that have been noted in the men's and women's brains including the asci overall size of the brain even come correcting for body size and the density of cortical neurons portable asymmetry hypothalamic nuclei and a number of other many are sex differences I certainly some maybe all are universal the idea that there are cultures out there somewhere in which everything is the reverse of here I turns out to be a net I'm in human universals the anthropologist Donald brown serving this literature points out that in all cultures men and women are seen as having different natures that there's a greater involvement of women in direct child care more ... competitiveness in various measures for men and women and a greater spatial range none compared to women in our personality ... there was a least across national sample Feingold's meta analysis he noted gender differences in personality that are consistent across ages years of data collection educational levels nations in terms of us face when math abilities I think we have left data and ... being the honest answer is that we don't have Crabtree cross cultural surveys although we do have cross national surveys I David Geary and that captain desoto I found a expected effect given to mental rotation 10 European countries Ghana Turkey in China and Diane Halpern analyzing results from 7 I country I can country said that the majority of financial meeting cross cultural consistency when comparing males and females on cognitive tests stability over time in like interests and personality there's been little or no change despite 2 generations of 5 second wave of feminism I'm there is also a famously resistance to munity hooker various ideological reasons we're dedicated to static out sex differences and found that they were unable to do so I these include the Israeli kibbutz and various rural American utopian communities at the end of the nineteenth century and contemporary androgynous academic couples yeah ... in the ... mental rotation there'd be meta analysis by for your alpha and no change over time in mathematical reasoning there I has been a ... decline in the difference although it is certainly not disappeared for many of these differences can be seen in other mammals suggesting that it's unlikely that the difference arbitrarily replicated in humans there is a big difference in many mammals between man and Arab males and females in aggression ... investment of offspring in aggressive play versus play parenting in the range sites and also the spatial ability assaulting raises at least in polygynous species I like like ... as humans are had even in a number of primate species and interest in physical objects versus conspecifics as seen in patterns of juvenile play even baby vervet monkeys preferred at B. males preferred to let play with trucks and the I. females without it twice I'm many of these in repair emerged in early childhood high in the literature there's a I said that there is a technical term for people who believe that boys and girls are indistinguishable and are molded into donate their different majors by parental socialization the term for such people is childless yeah some differences ... our theme to emerge even in the first week of life ... grows respond more sounds of distress growth make more eye contact and in that study that I know that Liz disputes that I hope will talk about there is I want spending I've claimed that newborns ... the boys are more interested in physical objects the girls in our people comes to face I little later there are vast and robust and heck differences all over the world boys far more often than girls engaging rough and tumble play involving aggression physical activity and petition girls and a lot more often cooperative play I'm growth engage much more often in play parenting and I guess it really is true that our boys will turn anything into a vehicle or a weapon and girls will turn things into dolls are there differences and intuitive psychology how well kids can read each one others minds but there are number of ... documentations Ave solving the false belief task and in interpreting the mental state of characters stories in favor of ... girls I'm sick genetic boys brought up as girls there I in a famous case sometimes called the John Jones case a out one member of a pair of identical twin boys ... lost his penis in a botched circumcision I was relieved to find that this was not done by a boil but by a bungling as Surgeon we are under advice from the ... gender psychologist of time the parents agreed to have the boy castrated given ... female specific got hormones and brought up as a girl this I was hidden from him until he was 14 I when I was an undergraduate at an undergraduate this case was taught to me as an instance of how I gender roles are completely socially acquired bike I turned out that the attack had been suppressed and when he was this a boy was we visited it turned out that like from IBM earliest ages he ... was ... exhibited male specific patterns ... aggression and rough and tumble play exactly characteristic of boys a greater interest in things ... and and not people I the age of 14 suffering from depression his father finally I told him the truth he underwent further surgery married a woman ... adopted some children and got a job in the slaughter house I now this is not just this is a single instance I am a condition called Waco extra fee on genetic boys are sometimes board without normal male genitalia and when they have been ... again castrated ... and ... brought up as girls in 2525 documented instances bay I felt that they were boys trapped in girls bodies he showed me all specific patterns of rough and tumble play and cast someone I haven't lack of differential treatment by parents and teachers in a this with these 2 pointing surprise a lot of people and one is that if you are looking and Romney did a meta analysis of sex specific social isolation involving 172 studies 28000 actually looking both reports in direct observations how parents treat their sons and daughters and found few or no differences among and prairie Americans ... and in particular there was no difference in the 2 categories of encouraging achievement and occurring encouraging achievement and also there's a widespread net fact I teachers are improved course are still disproportionately female are actually dupes in perpetuating gender and inequities and ... failing to call on girls and otherwise having low expectations of their performance in fact I just echoes in the study of 100 teachers in 1800 students concluded the creature seems to be basing their perceptions of students on those students actual performance and motivation and study the prenatal sex hormones be ... mechanism that makes boys boys and girls girls in the first place there is some evidence although admittedly I'm squishy in parts backed ... this makes a difference even within a social gender in the condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia ... girls are ... in utero are subjected to ... a and increased dose of androgens later are ... nullify post lately but when they grow up they have and male typical toy preferences appear to ... other girls in terms of ... trucks and and guns male typical play patterns more competitive less cooperative mailed typical occupational preference however ... the research on their spatial abilities in because of an eye and will not be willing to say that tag there's been a good demonstration that they have male typical patterns of spatial cognition ... similarly variations in fetal testosterone ... standing in various ways so that people testosterone has a ... Crivello any relationship to I'm reduced eye contact and ace perception at 12 months reduced vocabulary to 18 months greater us on reduce social skills and and greater narrowness of interest at 48 months and a I enhanced mental rotation school age years I'm circulating sex hormones I'm going to go over the slight pretty quickly because I repeat litter carries out now possible that ... all of that is a bogus I suspect that ... that there is something to be salvaged ... out from it from this somewhat contradictory literature ... back down but I will admit that it is is not pretty to a up perfectly clear picture none the less there are many studies showing that a normal to loan me a range of testosterone is associated with better spatial abilities in a variety of ways hormones are compared or manipulated and some evidence disputed that there are I statistical changes in the ... strengthened and I weaknesses in competition of women during the ... menstrual cycle paralleling the changes again and men during the daily and seasonal cycles I left that evidence is are on imprinted X. chromosomes ... that there turns out it's been discovered that there's an entirely separate genetic system capable of implementing a sex differences in a variety of high I ... animals that don't David Hage here have studied in a condition called Turner syndrome a child ... has just one X. chromosome but can get it either from her mother or her father when she inherited X. that is specific to girls and she is on average better at reading emotions body language reading faces ... better vocabulary and better social skills I'm just one note on on that stereotypes and then all I'm all end ... parties stereotypes well many of them are although I must say not all such as email abilities and I spatial memory mathematical calculation and so on there seems to be a widespread assumption in much of this discussion that if there is a stereotype that explains the difference as being the cause of differential expectations but of course the causal arrow could go in either direction stereotypes might reflect differences and in fact there's an enormous literature in cognitive psych it says that people are good intuitive statisticians and that their prototypes and can ... categories track the statistics of the natural world pretty well and that is that it just isn't it at an example we do have a stereotype that basketball players are taller on average than jockeys but certainly doesn't mean that our stereotypes because that difference in height likewise our our legally and I'm just Eckels have shown that up most people's gender stereotypes artifact pretty accurate indeed the error is in the direction of under predicting differences but if I'm up I think there's more than a shred of evidence for sex differences that are relevant to statistical gender disparities in a week finance departments there are reliable average differences in light priorities interesting people versus things that clicking spatial transformations and mathematical reasoning and variability in the straits I there are 10 kinds of evidence that suggest that the difference are not completely explained by socialite nation and bias although they but we are in part just to give a couple of concluding thoughts none of this I think it provides any grounds for ignoring the biopsies and barriers that keep women out of science as long as we keep in mind the distinction between fairness on the one hand and sameness on the other they are different things I'll give the final word to Gloria Steinem who said that there are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina and all the other jobs should be open to both sexes thank you the mmhm //

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