"The female preference for nurturing play and the male propensity for rough-and-tumble hold cross-culturally and even cross-species."

So did the lack of the right to vote.

Just because it's nearly universal does not mean it's biological.

Across cultures people smile at baby girls more. Is this biological? Possibly, though those same people can't identify a male or female without the diaper off (when told a baby is a girl, they smile more, even if other participants in the same study smile less at said baby because they are told it's a boy).

There is absolutely no way to test the vast majority of claims about whether behavior is social or biological, because all of our behavior is a function of a larger social organism from which we cannot extract an individual without harming said individual.

Until we figure out a way to do isolate a baby from birth without harming the baby, I'm going to assume that my girls can do whatever boys can do intellectually. I don't have a good reason to think otherwise.

I've been glaring at them, telling them to buck up, and introducing them into play groups where girls are publicly shamed for playing with dollies to mimic the male experience.

Joking, of course. I don't think that should happen to any child, although about 50% of the population experiences that level of conditioning from birth. (Then we say they "naturally" behave differently.)

The point is, conditioning happens from day one, so I wouldn't put so much stock into universal experiences. Nearly humans speak a language, but only because they are spoken to. That is a scientific discovery, by the way. Scientists (before we had to get human subjects approval) took a group of orphans and isolated them and expected to speak some kind of uncontaminated, pure, proto-language. (They thought it would be Hebrew.) The children didn't learn any language, and were linguistically hindered for life.

Almost all Japanese people born in Japan speak Japanese, because that's what their brains get as input. It's not biological, but for thousands of years, people thought it was, because you didn't have such mass inter-lingual migrations. People were truly shocked (even scientists) to realize that not just "special" babies but all people learn language not based on genetic makeup, but based on the input they get as infants. And in fact, a lot of people who ought to know better even today, somehow assume that a child will learn a language without it being spoken to them.

This is something that frequently happens when the father of a household speaks a foreign language but not to the children: though many of them know better, they also claim, paradoxically, that they thought their kids would "pick up" the language because they were [insert ethnic group here]. Said men are not stupid--they've just never seen a Dominican child, for example, not speak a Dominican dialect.

Women have had the expectation of universal education, with the demand of being able to participate in the work force so that their survival is dependent on their own skills and not the goodwill of a single man (their husband), for what, 100 years?

10,000 years of civilization and we get 100 years, close so many academic and professional gaps that it's frankly deeply shocking, and we still cite 50-year-old studies and studies based on social norms that are changing rapidly?

We are talking about one of the quickest mass changes in societal behavior in history and it's been more global and more quickly adopted than democratic forms of government. And we still bear the babies and nurse them. That is how prepared women were biologically to be introduced as a culture to the workforce and education.

I don't buy this biological differences stuff. Give us another 100 years, let us get back to getting men in the classrooms for boys (teacher gender balance is disgustingly skewed nowadays), and to a world in which no woman even realizes her mom was was told not to study physics, in which men and women have equal parental leave and every woman has the support to learn to use a breast pump or to take time off to nurse and then return to work, and then you can do some studies to impress me about biological differences. For now, I think the most reasonable assumption is to take each child as a product of a deeply gendered environment (boys and girls) and work to compensate for that so that each child feels comfortable expressing his or her intellectual talents however s/he can.

That also implies things like boys-only ballet classes, because I know two boys who briefly expressed an interest in ballet before immediately retracting it, seeing the desperate attempts of their open-minded parents to hide their surprise. Even our eyebrows tell our children what is "right" and "wrong", even if we don't want to think something is "wrong" (i.e. unusual).

Sorry for the treatise. I just can't stand these pseudo-scientific studies. I see pre-school kids all the time and the #1 thing I see in 100% of the population is that normal human beings are extremely adept at picking up very subtle cues from their social environment regarding norms, expectations, and limits. You don't have to be a sexist jerk for a child to pick up the nanosecond long pause when he asks if he can be a nurse.

Last edited by binip; 03/12/14 09:23 AM.