On the Origin of Gender Differences

Harald Eia på boksignering i Bergen.
Harald Eia på boksignering i Bergen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was in high school, we were told that we could do whatever we wanted to do and we girls mostly wanted to be doctors. In fact, I know the current filed of study of only three of my female classmates. Two are studying medicine and the third is studying pharmacy. Apparently, Norway has a similar problem. Despite being billed as the most equal country in the world, women still concentrated themselves in traditionally female professions (e.g nursing) and men still concentrated themselves in engineering profession.

The same seems to be true in the US as well. In my intro to computer science class, we explored the problem – women are scarce in computer science. It seems that they are scarce in engineering as a whole, but especially in computer science. I don’t remember the numbers, but the dominant problem seemed to be that women are uninterested in it. They find it boring and prefer medicine, teaching, etc.

For most people, it must seem like a no-brainer that men and women are typically interested in different things. The following really informative video attempts to explain why. The verdict is different depending on who you ask. According to the researchers at the Nordic Gender Institute, the causes are purely social. Despite great efforts to the contrary, boys are girls are still treated differently and different things are expected of them. Consequently, children grow up to choose professions in line with those expectations.

Researchers in the UK and US disagreed, arguing that that claim was wrong for several reasons

1. Male and female children express differences in preferences as early as a day after birth, before they have been influenced by society.

2. Research has shown that the preferences of children (which often last into adulthood) depend on the amount of testosterone they are exposed to while in the womb. More testosterone leads to a greater interest in machines and less leads to a greater interest in social activities, hence the predisposition of girls towards professions that involve working with people (medicine and teaching) and of boys towards technical professions (e.g. engineering).

3. Since women are the ones who give birth to children, it makes sense that evolution would provide them with skills and interests necessary to ensure that they survive till childbearing age and are able to care for those children hence the non-confrontational, social and careful nature of women.

4. If the difference in preferences between men and women were purely due to society, they would vary across cultures. However, the difference in preferences remains remarkably the same from Norway, to Saudi Arabia to the US.

Their conclusion: That men and women have innate differences in personality. These differences can be affected a little by cultural perceptions of the sexes, but only a little. In more ‘gender equal’ countries, where both sexes are free to choose their profession as they like, these differences are accentuated as people choose the professions that interest them. In other countries, choice of profession is constrained by other factors like need and societal expectation.

On the other hand, the researchers at the NIKK offered surprisingly little support for their assertions. Instead they suggested that the studies were flawed and the researchers biased. The NIKK was closed down after this video and its sequels were aired whether as a direst result, I do not know.

Brainwash 1:7 – The Gender Equality Paradox from Harald Eia on Vimeo.

I am perfectly willing to accept the talk about the sexes being equal as long as equal does not mean ‘the same’. To me, the difference between men and women is very obvious. I see it in my family, friends and classes. I can count on one hand the number of my male acquaintances that want to be teachers, but that’s what a lot of my girlfriends want. The ratio of guys to girls in my classes is huge. I believe that men and women are equal in the sense that they are both made in God’s image, but I find it difficult to think of any other way in which they are equal.

Further reading:

Nordic Countries Defund Gender Institute

Men and Women’s Differences Extend to Personality

Published by


I’m Tracy

2 thoughts on “On the Origin of Gender Differences”

  1. I get the distinct impression that some of this research has its conclusion written before its results, and of course the basis for that conclusion is ideological. Of course it doesn’t work. You can’t remove differences by positing that they don’t exist, any more than you can facilitate easy communication between a Brit and a Chinaman by declaring that English and Mandarin are effectively the same!

    My take on the gender thing is that all people are different, and the best way to address equality is to look at it on the individual level. If a small fraction of women have a mind suited to some form of engineering, it is important that they aren’t barred from it based on prejudice. Nevertheless if only a small fraction have the talent and indeed the interest to go down that route, insisting on equal representation is daft.

    On the other hand I do think there’s something to be said for pursuing members of under-represented groups (particularly under-represented genders, possibly also personality types) in some cases. This is not because they’re the same but because they’re different, and you need difference to set up an effective team and create a synergy. I believe that a man and a woman are created to make the perfect team in marriage, so it stands to reason that their unique traits could be usefully combined in other spheres too.

    1. ” You can’t remove differences by positing that they don’t exist, any more than you can facilitate easy communication between a Brit and a Chinaman by declaring that English and Mandarin are effectively the same! ”

      True, but you can influence social policies if you are able to convince people to buy your false claims. That’s probably how Norway got its ‘Gender equality status’. Tell everyone that men and women are only different because society makes them so and you can get everyone to institute policies for ‘equality’.

What did you think of my post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s