Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Science Of Gender And Science

The Science Of Gender And Science
Pinker Vs. Spelke, A Debate
Pinker: To sum up: I think there is more than “a shred of evidence” for sex differences that are relevant to statistical gender disparities in elite hard science departments. There are reliable average difference in life priorities, in an interest in people versus things, in risk-seeking, in spatial transformations, in mathematical reasoning, and in variability in these traits. And there are ten kinds of evidence that these differences are not completely explained by socialization and bias, although they surely are in part.


Spelke: My feeling is that where we stand now, we cannot evaluate this claim. It may be true, but as long as the forces of discrimination and biased perceptions affect people so pervasively, we’ll never know. I think the only way we can find out is to do one more experiment. We should allow all of the evidence that men and women have equal cognitive capacity, to permeate through society. We should allow people to evaluate children in relation to their actual capacities, rather than one’s sense of what their capacities ought to be, given their gender. Then we can see, as those boys and girls grow up, whether different inner voices pull them in different directions. I don’t know what the findings of that experiment will be. But I do hope that some future generation of children gets to find out.

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