Men are better at Science

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by spuriousmonkey, Jan 18, 2005.

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  1. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

    According to the president of Harvard University men are better suited for science than women.


    Apparently that is not just his own opinion, but also research backs up this conclusion.

    Is he right?
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  3. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

    Not many people volunteer for public beatings.
    Not in the UK. Over here, females tend to outperform males, at least at the age of 16.
    I'll see if I can find some links on this.
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  5. shadarlocoth Registered Senior Member

    girls at younger ages would the mature faster then boys. Not to mention with the state of things today guy's are made fun of and called nurds and geeks if they get good grades. On the other hand girls are cheered on.
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  7. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Its a while since I discussed this with some friends, but if I remember correctly, the starting point is considering a bell curve of ability at science. Now, if you agree that for science you need a fairly logical mind, some numerical and other abilities, there is actually evidence to show that women have a lower tendency for these abilities. For example engineering, men on average have been shown to have greater spatial awareness, 3 dimensional thinking abilities, so if you can imagine 2 bell curves, one for men and one for women. They overlap, so that a percentage of women have greater spatial abilities that many men, but you can just about say that the average man has greater abilities in this respect than the average woman. But then it is silly to say that "Men are better than women" at subject X, because that is a blanket general statement and ignores the many women who are good at "X". Unfortunately I dont have a transcript of his actual words, then we could tell whether he should be tarred and feathered for stupidity.
  8. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Ahh, but things are as usual more complex than people would have you believe.

    Take these for example:
    "The view that there are differences between mathematical abilities in males and females, and that these abilities are due, in large part, to differences in spatial reasoning abilities (to the exclusion of social and affective explanations) is still prominent, and might even be called the received view3. To be fair, there is empirical support for this view (e.g., the Casey et al. study, and those listed in footnote 3). Yet, for decades, there has also been a substantial amount of research demonstrating a.) that spatial differences don't explain differences in math performance and b.) differences in both spatial and mathematical abilities vary greatly depending on the context and population studied."

    "Point in Woman’s favor: they aren’t stupid enough to succumb to the ridiculous demands of the academic establishment.

    But seriously, this isn’t a problem with women. This is a problem with the culture. We have a culture that says it is OK for the boys to shirk family responsibilities and invest time in their careers, but women who do the same are bad mothers. Women are penalized in ways that men aren’t for making a maximal effort in their careers, just as men are penalized for spending more time with their families.

    Do you think Lawrence Summers looks on those high-level male scientists and engineers who are slaving away in the lab for 80+ hours a week, and wonders, “Why is that man neglecting his children?” Part of the problem is that we have administrators and peers who can gleefully apply that kind of career pressure without concern for their ability to function as well-rounded human beings"
  9. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    Research backs it? The research may only back up the influence of social factors that bring about these noticble differences in the first place.

    When it comes to pure technical ability; men and women both are equal.

    When it comes to applying this ability to real life applications; there are far more known male scientists and mathmaticians. Why? Good question...but really, how many women in the 50s were influenced to be thinkers whereas some of these brilliant scientists were achieving things at the same time and now they revel in their acquired fame for their decades of work.

    I say give it another 30 years and the research should be done again.
  10. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

    Equal, huh? Do you have any studies that can back that up? Or maybe even just anything. Personally, I could never believe a claim like that. It's too perfect. Equality.

    Also, here's a link that shows proper use of semicolon.
    Semicolon Link

    It's likely for there are many reasons for the enormous disparity between the numbers of male and female scientists. It's true that men are encouraged to work more than women. Society has much higher expectations of men. It's true that women are encouraged to be at home taking care of children, and it's true that most women lack the mental facilities that men have.
  11. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    If the president of Harvard University had declared that men were more suited to the proper use of the semicolon than men would we have been having a similar debate?

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    I rather think not. It would have been perceived as inconsequential. (So, come to think of it, two thirds of the posters on this forum would have debated it for that very reason!)
    It would seem to me quite remarkable if women were to turn out to have the same abilities as men, on average. Since Science requires a variety of skills one would expect that in some, women are ahead of men, in others behind, and in some, practically the same. (All of these realting to average capability.) Nobody has mentioned the ability of women to multi-task with comparative ease. That could be a major benefit at the analytical stage of any research.
    Movreover, the Sciences are not identical. There has been an emphasis on mathematics in the discussion thus far. Many of the sciences require only a rudimentary grasp of maths.
    As TheMatrixIsReal observed, there has been a kneejerk reaction from some that it is reprehensible that the president of Harvard University should make such an obviously false statement. So, where are the clear facts in either direction? At present they are hugely distorted, as others have pointed out, by cultural pressures. But we should be open to the possibility that when this bias has been removed that one sex may prove to be more effective at science than the other. At present we cannot say which one it will turn out to be. Isn't keeping an open mind till the evidence is in and weighed, what science is about?
  12. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member


    Men are better than women at almost everything. It would be a complete shock to find out that women are equal at science.
  13. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    You have a few studies showing that?
  14. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Men seem to have a recurrent problem in becoming pregnant and bearing children. They are pretty naff at mental multi-tasking. They are ineffective at reading emotions. They seem to have difficulty living as long as women. But I'm sure none of these are important, right?
  15. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    You show me otherwise. There are women who are brilliant at math, at science, there are women who can match men at cognitive ability...that is what I meant when I mentioned technical ability. We aren't talking about numbers here, we are talking about skill. I see no reason that there would be biological differences that would hinder women from having the same thought processing capabilities as men.

    What is it with sciforum members and their anal obsession of grammer? Granted I suck at grammer but you understood the fucking english didn't you.

    Did you even read the rest of my post?

  16. iliketoponder Registered Member

    Why would it be such a shock to discover that men and women are equally capable of thinking scientifically? We're all human. That is part of our human nature. Humans would not have made it this far (from an evolutionary perspective) if primitive men AND women had not been very scientific.

    I think most of us are aware that statistics and reseach, for example SAT scores, show that, in general, men are a better at math than females, and females are a better at language/reading comprehension. Math IS very important in the field of science. But it is not emphasized in schools nearly as much as the use of words. And from my experience I can tell you that no teacher has ever really inspired me to study math, or to like it. If a girl cannot keep up with her male peers in math class, it may discourage her, or if a boy is having trouble in an english class, it might discourage him, and it is impossible to excell in something that you don't understand, enjoy, or if you don't know how to apply to it to anything.

    As for you even know what science is??? It's a process of thinking. Not the blah facts compiled in textbooks. And passing science exams doesn't necessarily mean we are scientific. That means we can do what a computer does: process the information and regurgitate some answers, based on OTHER information. That's not being the open-minded and curious beings we ALL can be.

    When discouraged and pressured to conform to what society wants you to be, it is not very easy to be open-minded. In the past, women have had this problem. Like sargentlard said, we should wait another 30 years before jumping to the conclusion that women suck at everything. lol

    Albert Einstein was scientific. He did not have the highest IQ of all the physicists of his time, and his weak subject, surprisingly, was math. But he was very inquisitive and practical. The hardest thing is not ANSWERING a question. It's to ASK good questions, and then the answer becomes evident. Anyone can question. That is science.

    Men are better than women at almost everything ???? WHAT? That was really blunt! A huge assumption like that and no supporting facts in your post.
  17. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    Apparently it would shatter apendrapew's world.
  18. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

    Says a lot about you.
  19. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Almost exactly, except that in order to avoid misunderstanding you have to rephrase more like:
    "and if on average over the entire population it looks like according to the small amount of study that has gone into this, that men are a little better at mechanical aptitude tests under these current cultural conditions, so what?"
  20. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

    Relax man. It wasn't intended as an insult; I was merely trying to help. I guess this is the thanks I get.

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    First, is there anyone who disagrees with me? All I've gotten is so far is, "Prove it!"

    I don't know why I have to defend this claim, but here goes.

    Sports. Mainstream sports show that men are faster, stronger, tougher, more coordinated, have better perception of the four dimensions, and have better focus than their counterpart. That is why men do not play against women. If the best professional female basketball team played the worst professional male basketball team, the men would destroy the women. No contest. Also another thing to consider: testosterone makes men competitive. Even if men and women had the same strength, speed and all that, men would want to win more and thus be more inclined to win.

    What about less physical persuits? I read in my psychology text book a year ago about chess tournaments. Those too are gender segregated. It's not fair for men to compete with women. Why? Because men are way better at it.

    Ask yourself this. How do you think the qualities that make men superior in competitive events translate in the real world?

    I'm not saying men are better than women. Not at all. I'm saying men are better than women at almost everything. Why can't you see this?
  21. iliketoponder Registered Member

    Personally, I think your argument is very unintelligent. Yes, male and female minds and bodies are different. They have different roles. That doesn't make one better than the other....maybe you think it does but it is certainly not fact, it's opinion.
    Anyway, I read on ABC news about the differences in the male and female brains and this is what it said: males' brains are generally larger by 100 grams, probably due to the fact that they are larger in body size, but women have more synapses. While in the womb, the male fetus's brain development is somewhat inhibited in certain areas by testosterone, and stimulated more than a female's developement in others. It has been proven that most men are a better at math, and females better at language, but that does not mean females are innately mathematically CHALLENGED.

    The reason that men are better at sports is because of their body structure, and muscle mass. If a male mind with no experience in athletics was to be put into a female body (also with no experience in athletics), he would not perform better than the female could.

    And an idea of my own (just a thought): I think that because, like you said, testosterone makes men more aggressive, this MUST, of course, have something to do with the brain. Do you know what causes aggression? Fear. And fear is caused when we don't understand something. When our minds are closed in some way. Often when men are cocky, they're covering up an insecurity. They will never admit that they are insecure, or that they are wrong, BECAUSE they are insecure. I think it is more likely for a girl to realize that she is shy because she is afraid of rejection, or whatever it is. Females are more open with their emotions. They seem to have better intrapersonal skills. I think that has something to do with the absence of testosterone. It makes sense, doesn't it? But, of course, that's just a guess. And I don't mean to say that all men are like that.
  22. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    Who claimed one was "better than the other"?
    People are claiming that one is "better than the other at certain things", which you said yourself...
    So, if it IS true that males are better at math, better at spacial reasoning and better at critical reasoning, wouldn;t it stand to reason that they would be better at sciences?
    It certainly would stand to reason that they are better at most fields of engineering.
    Who said they were?
    I think you are allowing your defensiveness get in the way of reason... wait... are you a woman?

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    (sorry, couldn't resist)

    That's the whole point.

    Females very well may be more inclined to excel at intrapersonal skill and males may be better in sciences.
    There is NOTHING wrong with that.
    In fact, it's what, in my opinion, make women better leaders.

    Boys and girls are different.
    Isn't that quite obvious to everyone?
    Does that mean that women should not be allowed to enter the sciences or be fire fighters?
    Of course not.
    Does it mean that, men will generally excel at some things and women will excel at others.
  23. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    David Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire, said this:
    Another facet of the ideological resistance is the belief that acceptance of evolutionary psychology will cause people to become hopeless about the possibilities of change. As I said earlier, that's also an error as more knowledge of our evolved mechanisms will help change - if you want to change. You could argue that ignorance of these mechanisms is disastrous for the possibilities of change. A third aspect of resistance - which is only in part ideological - is that many people are committed to equality, and yet there's the notion that we value people differently. In my work on mating there's a very profound message that says, "well actually, we have evolved mechanisms for valuing some individuals differently than others". Or, Eugene Burnstein uses the example of a burning building where you only have time to rescue one person - your brother, your cousin, your next door neighbour - who do you save? The responses are very predictable with kin: the higher the degree of relatedness the more likely you are to engage in dangerous forms of helping behaviour. That says that people have intrinsic qualities, and that we have evolved mechanisms for valuing some individuals highly and other individuals not at all. That violates the democratic assumption that people want to have.

    the evolutionist: Is that another evolved mechanism?

    Buss: I don't know. In this respect I've had success in communicating my work to people who are less educated. I think - and this may slide off into another source of resistance - the resistance to evolutionary thinking is correlated with the number of years of education you have, at least in America, in the social sciences. In my opinion, what is taught in main stream social science to millions of people across the United States is outrageous: that there are no sex differences; that everything's arbitrary; and that we're blank slates on which culture, our parents and our teachers write the contents. I think it's awful that the teachings that are now known to be wrong - the myths of social sciences - are perpetrated on people. The more years of education you have the more they cling to these myths. I've actually been thinking about a book called "The Myths of the Social Sciences", exploring the myth of culture as a causal explanation. But I don't think they're necessarily evolved mechanisms: when I talk about sex differences to people who haven't gone to college they don't have any problems with the idea - they've observed them themselves. Even when you talk about selection, they have no trouble grasping the idea. There's a certain amount of 'educational inertia'.
    There's a joke that says "if a social scientist witnesses something that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then he says it's a social construction of a duck". What we're saying is: there are ducks. They have describable features. Not everything is a social construction in the mind of individuals. That's not to say that we don't socially construct things; just that the things we socially construct are not arbitrary.

    He has taken a bit of heat for his reasearch into gender differences. His book is a good read, I recommend it.

    One problem with these sorts of discussions is that our culture tends to value the things men are better at, and devalue the qualities that women tend to be better at. This isn't true in all cultures.

    There are biological differences in the genders. Research into evolutionary psychology continues, in spite of attacks from dogmatists.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2005
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