Brain sex does not exist

Illustration by Simon Fletcher

Neuroscience is methodologically flawed. Even when an effect is objectively measurable, small sample sizes and poor statistical significance plague brain imaging studies. Most results are not replicable and, often, the alleged “findings” are not even based on human research. Extrapolating functional or behavior qualities from these studies is logically tenuous at best.

Click on pictures for source documents/web references.

powerfailure 2013_full

Power failure: Why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience (10 April 2013). Pdf here. Katherine S. Button, John P. A. Ioannidis, Claire Mokrysz, Brian A. Nosek, Jonathan Flint, Emma S. J. Robinson & Marcus R. Munafó
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 365-376 (May 2013) | doi:10.1038/nrn3475
A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles.


TRANSGENDERISM: these scientific authorities demonstrate with exhaustive research and great analytic detail that there are no meaningful differences between male and female brains, making implausible all arguments about transgenderism that depend on a connection between one’s brain and their sex.


Lawrence_brain sex critiqueDr. Anne Lawrence is a male-to-female transsexual and a well-recognized expert on transsexualism.

A Critique of the Brain-Sex Theory of Transsexualism article by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., 2007

The brain-sex theory of transsexualism has never been easy to reconcile with clinical reality: Homosexual and nonhomosexual MtF transsexualism are so different clinically that it is almost impossible to imagine that they could have the same etiology. Nevertheless, for a time the Zhou/Kruijver data gave the brain-sex theory a certain superficial plausibility. In 2002, Chung et al. reported new data that raised serious doubts about the brain-sex theory, but the authors were able to explain why the theory might still be plausible. The new data reported by Hulshoff Pol et al. in 2006 did not invalidate these explanations, but it rendered them largely irrelevant. The simplest and most plausible explanation of the Zhou/Kruijver findings is that they are attributable, completely or predominantly, to the effects of cross-sex hormone therapy administered during adulthood. There is no longer any reason to postulate anything more complicated.

The brain-sex theory was never helpful in explaining clinical observations; now it has become irrelevant to explaining neuroanatomical observations. It is time to abandon the brain-sex theory of transsexualism and to adopt a more plausible and clinically relevant theory in its place.

Bold not in original.


delusions of genderDelusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Differencebook by Cordelia Fine, 2011

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

From a review of Fine’s work in the Washington Post:

Fine gives these scientists no quarter, and her beef isn’t just with brain scanners. Consider her critique of a widely cited study of babies’ gazes, conducted when the infants were just a day and a half old. The study found that baby girls were much more likely to gaze at the experimenter’s face, while baby boys preferred to look at a mobile. The scientists took these results as evidence that girls are more empathic than boys, who are more analytic than girls — even without socialization. The problem, not to put too fine a point on it, is that it’s a lousy experiment. Fine spends several pages systematically discrediting the study, detailing flaw after flaw in its design. Again, it’s a somewhat technical, methodological discussion, but an important one, especially since this study has become a cornerstone of the argument that boys and girls have a fundamental difference in brain wiring.

By now, you should be getting a feeling for the tone and texture of this book. Fine offers no original research on the brain or gender; instead, her mission is to demolish the sloppy science being used today to justify gender stereotypes — which she labels “neurosexism.” She is no less merciless in attacking “brain scams,” her derisive term for the many popular versions of the idea that sex hormones shape the brain, which then shapes behavior and intellectual ability, from mathematics to nurturance.

Two of her favorite targets are John Gray, author of the “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” books, and Louann Brizendine, author of “The Female Brain” and “The Male Brain.” Fine’s preferred illustration of Gray’s “neurononsense” is his discussion of the brain’s inferior parietal lobe, or IPL. The left IPL is more developed in men, the right IPL in women, which for Gray illuminates a lot: He says this anatomical difference explains why men become impatient when women talk too long and why women are better able to respond to a baby crying at night. Fine dismisses such conclusions as nothing more than “sexism disguised in neuroscientific finery.”


brain storm_jordan-youngBrain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differencesbook by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, 2010

In this compelling book, Rebecca Jordan-Young takes on the evidence that sex differences are hardwired into the brain. Analyzing virtually all published research that supports the claims of “human brain organization theory,” Jordan-Young reveals how often these studies fail the standards of science. Even if careful researchers point out the limits of their own studies, other researchers and journalists can easily ignore them because brain organization theory just sounds so right. But if a series of methodological weaknesses, questionable assumptions, inconsistent definitions, and enormous gaps between ambiguous findings and grand conclusions have accumulated through the years, then science isn’t scientific at all.

Elegantly written, this book argues passionately that the analysis of gender differences deserves far more rigorous, biologically sophisticated science. “The evidence for hormonal sex differentiation of the human brain better resembles a hodge-podge pile than a solid structure … Once we have cleared the rubble, we can begin to build newer, more scientific stories about human development.”


Carothers, Bobbi J.; Reis, Harry T. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 104(2), Feb 2013, 385-407. doi:10.1037/a0030437
This is not a brain study, of course; however, if sex-based brain differences had measurable social effects, the results of this study would be the opposite. They would be the opposite because gendered difference between men/males and women/females would register as qualitatively distinct regardless of whether neuroscience was able to pinpoint the exact area of the brain responsible for such differences.

Average differences between men and women are not under dispute, but the dimensionality of gender indicates that these differences are inappropriate for diagnosing gender-typical psychological variables on the basis of sex.

And from an article written by the authors, published in the New York Times:

That men and women differ in certain respects is unassailable. Unfortunately, the continuing belief in “categorical differences” — men are aggressive, women are caring — reinforces traditional stereotypes by treating certain behaviors as immutable. And, it turns out, this belief is based on a scientifically indefensible model of human behavior.

As the psychologist Cordelia Fine explains in her book “Delusions of Gender,” the influence of one kind of categorical thinking, neurosexism — justifying differential treatment by citing differences in neural anatomy or function — spills over to educational and employment disparities, family relations and arguments about same-sex institutions.


ben barresHe, Once a She, Offers Own View on Science Spat

article in the Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2006

Ben Barres, a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University:

…Prof. Barres begs to differ with what he calls “the Larry Summers Hypothesis,” named for the former Harvard president who attributed the paucity of top women scientists to lack of “intrinsic aptitude.” In a commentary in today’s issue of the journal Nature, he writes that “the reason women are not advancing [in science] is discrimination” and the “Summers Hypothesis amounts to nothing more than blaming the victim.”

And quoting another trans scientist on neuroplasticity.

The biggest recent revolution in neuroscience has been the discovery of the brain’s “plasticity,” or ability to change structure and function in response to experiences. “It’s not hard to believe that differences between the brains of male and female adults have nothing to do with genes or the Y chromosome but may be the biological expression of different social settings,” says biologist Joan Roughgarden of Stanford, who completed her own transgender transition in 1998.

You know, it is hard to believe that people continue to support these antiquated “brain sex” theories without reproducible and unambigious scientific proof.


  1. I will put this link on my blog. I am trying to get a set of links and/or outright articles on my blog(with full credit to the author), so women can wade thru the b.s. and see some very clear arguements to counter the b.s. out there.

  2. I have read the works by both Fine and Jordan-Young, and their books really illustrate just how saturated a bias for promoting sex differences is. This is something that has persisted for centuries, long before transsexualism was a known concept. Scientists have long since been trying to prove the existence of male and female brains, changing their focus when they couldn’t find differences or when they found instances of females having “better” qualities. For example, it was noted that males have slightly larger brains than females (the scientists cheered), but then it was determined that females have a larger brain-to-body size ratio than males. The scientists proceeded to look elsewhere for differences.

  3. JPSP is the premier journal on social psychology and gender research (Sex Roles is a good journal, too). I’m not familiar with Carothers’ work, but Reis does a lot of research on intimacy and attraction (not just romantic).

    I always reading enjoy meta-analyses.

  4. Nicely assembled collection, valuable research links. Excellent work, quel usuel.

  5. I agree with you that there are no significant cognitive difference between women and men. However, I think you are completely wrong to say that there is not a qualitative sex difference in te brain.

    You are ignoring people born intersex and otherwise sex re-assigned in infancy. The case history is pretty clear that intersex children often eventually identify as a sex other than the one they were assigned at birth and raised as. This identification would occur despite the concealment of the child’s intersex condition and attempts to raise them in a gender-normative way for the child’s assigned sex. Any theory that the brain has no sex completely fails to explain this. I’m attaching some links.

  6. No, I am not ignoring intersex, but YOU are confusing bodies with gender. Intersex people would appreciate it if you would stop exploiting their physical condition to further your political agenda about the sacred nature of “gender identity.”

    Now regarding your links:

    1> David Reimer is a tragic case of a botched circumcision at EIGHT MONTHS OLD from which absolutely nothing about the natural human condition can be extrapolated. The article you linked to gave SEVERAL explanations given for his misery– including a genetic legacy of clinical depression. Reimer’s life cannot be reduced to some kind of “gender identity” confusion. I find that quite rude, actually.

    2> A sample size of 16 people with a severe birth defect…what’s your point about the essential nature of “gender identity”?? Nothing to see here as far as a biological or neurological basis for “gender identity” is concerned. Yes, it’s true, genital surgery in childhood (having doctors poke and prod at your genitals like you’re a FREAK) causes psycho-social problems. Imagine that.

    3> FAQs about intersex? Again, I’m not understanding what *I* need to learn here, but I will be happy to use that as a source in my upcoming article about “identity libertarianism.”

    Physical conditions are physical conditions. Stop confusing them with behavior or essential characteristics of the self. It’s that simple.

  7. SG, you’re ignoring a few things. First, “intersex children are assigned a gender a birth” needs A LOT more analysis. Come to find out, they’re almost always assigned the female designated gender. Which automagically puts them in the the second class caste. Which naturally, they’d resent. Stop assuming these kids are stupid. They can see that they don’t feel particularly submissive and they can also see that if they “identify” with a male gender then they’d graduate to the default human class.

    And the thing about David Reimer’s case, is that his parents felt terribly guilty about the botched circumcision, plus had desired a boy, plus he was born a healthy male NOT born an intersexed baby, plus the decision to “pretend he’s a girl” didn’t take place until he was several years old. So, it’s highly likely that his parents did a LOUSY job at pretending a healthy boy was a girl, and of course he would pick up on that lie of convenience, and would then profoundly resent being raised as a girl in a sexist society. It’s seriously no wonder that so many psychological traumas were produced from that circumstance. It’s like “follow these steps and you too will get a basket case for a son who kills himself”. Pretty much guaranteed.

    Btw Elizabeth, you’re freaking awesome, love how your brain works! 🙂

  8. What his suicide proves, is that gender matters to people. Just like people are willing to kill themselves and others in order to please their bearded sky fairy friend. Killing oneself or others, doesn’t prove that gender or god actually exists. While someone’s *belief* in god may be real, wishful happy thoughts do not have the magical power to birth their fantastical bearded fairy friend into existence.

    Are we making too much sense here? Probably — that’s why their only response are silencing tactics, intimidation, and threats of violence. Keep up the good work Mz. Hungerford! It is impossible for their “logic” to survive a sustained rebuff, and they know it.

  9. […]  There is no innate feminine or masculine way of experiencing the world.  There is no “brain sex“.  This gendered way of categorizing human actions and characteristics is patriarchal at its […]

  10. There is an excellent online article that I printed out 10 years ago,by Jungian psychologist Dr.Gary S.Toub,called,Jung and Gender:Masculine and Feminine Revisted. On his site it now only has part of this article and it says you have to register to read the full article. I emailed Dr.Toub years ago and he wrote me back several nice emails,in one he said he really liked my letter,and that it was filled to the brim with excellent points and insights.

    In this article he talks about what parts of Jungian thought he finds useful and what he finds problematic. The first thing he says he finds useful is, In the course of Jungian analysis, he often assists female clients to discover traditionally,masculine qualities in their psyche and that he likewise frequently assist male clients to recognize traditionally feminine qualities in their psyche. He says this process frees each gender from the straight-jacket of stereotyped sex roles and expands his clients identities. He then said that the process also mirrors and furthers the breakdown of male-female polarization in our culture,and the cultural shifts towards androgyny.

    He also says that most importantly, his practice of Jungian analysis places the greatest emphasis on facilitating his clients individuation process. He says this means that he tries to assist clients,male or female,to search for their authentic self-definition,distinct from society’s gender expectations.He also says that many Jungian definitions of masculine and feminine are narrow,outdated and sexist.

    He also says that he has found that generalizing about what is masculine and what is feminine is dangerous,often perpetuating gender myths that are discriminatory and damaging.He says while there is some research supporting biological roots to personality differences,the majority of studies suggest that much of what is considered masculine or feminine is culture determined.

    He also says that viewing masculine and feminine as complementary opposites,while useful at times,is problematic. He then says as his gay,lesbian, and transexual clients have taught him,gender is more accurately viewed as encompassing a wide-ranging continumm. He then says that likewise,the more people he sees in his practice,the more he is impressed at the great diversity in human nature. He says he has seen men of all types and varieties,and women of all kinds. He then says,he is hard-pressed to come up with very many generalizations based on gender.He says he knows that there are some statistical patterns,but how useful are they when he works with individuals and in a rapidly changing society? He says if each person is unique,no statistical norm or average will be able to define who my client is.

    He then says,from a psychological perpespective,men and women are not, in fact,opposite. He says his clinical experience is that they are much more psychologically alike than different,and the differences that exist are not necessarily opposing.

  11. I have an excellent book from 1979 written by 2 parent child development psychologists Dr. Wendy Schemp Matthews and award winning psychologist from Columbia University, Dr.Jeane Brooks-Gunn, called He & She How Children Develop Their Sex Role Idenity.

    They thoroughly demonstrate with tons of great studies and experiments by parent child psychologists that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike than different with very few differences but they are still perceived and treated systematically very different from the moment of birth on by parents and other adult care givers. They go up to the teen years.

    They also show that surveys show that boys are overwhelimingly prefered over girls,(sadly nothing has changed and sexist Tee shirts that say( I’m Too Pretty For Homework So I Let My Brother Do It For Me) (and other sexist anti-female ads,pornography,etc do too) like these both reflect and contribute to this injustice.They also explain that when people guess if a pregnant woman is having a girl or a boy,and they list a whole bunch of false unproven old wives tales,that assign all negative characteristics to a woman if they think she’s having a girl,and the imagined girls or given all of the negative characteristics.

    For example they say that author Elana Belotti(1977) explained these examples, The man and woman each take hold of one end of a wishbone and pull it apart.If the longest part comes away in the man’s hand,the baby will be a boy. If you suddenly ask a pregnant woman what she has in her hand and she looks at her right hand first ,she will have a boy;if she looks at her left hand it will be a girl.If the mother’s belly is bigger on the right-hand side a boy will be born,and also if her right breast is bigger than her left,or if her right foot is more restless.

    If a woman is placid during pregnancy she will have a boy,but if she is bad-tempered or cries a lot,she will have a girl.If her complexion is rosy she’s going to have a son;if she is pale a daughter. If her looks improve,she’s expecting a boy;if they worsen,a girl.If the fetal heartbeat is fast,it is a boy;if it is slow it is a girl.If the fetus has started to move by the fortieth day it will be a boy and the birth will be easy,but if it doesn’t move until the ninetieth day it will be a girl.( Belotti 1977,pp.22-23)

    Dr.Brooks-Gunn and Wendy Schempp Matthews then say, now rate each of the characteristics above as positive or negative. A woman expecting a girl is pale,her looks deteriorate,she is cross and ill-tempered,and she gets the short end of the wishbone,all negative characteristics. They then say,furthermore ,a girl is symbolized by the left-the left hand,the left side of the belly,the left foot,the left breast. They say,left connotes evil,a bad omen,or sinister,again the girls have all of the negative characteristics. They then say,that sex-role stereotypes about activity also characterize Belotti’s recipes:boys are believed to be active from the very beginning and girls have slower heartbeats and begin to move around later.They then say,the message although contradictory(girls cause more trouble even though they are more passive) is clear in that it reflects the sex-role stereotype that boys “do” while girls “are” and the belief that boys are more desirable than girls.

    I once spoke with Dr.Brooks-Gunn in 1994 and I asked her how she could explain all of these great studies that show that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike with few differences but are still perceived and treated so differently anyway, and she said that’s due to socialization and she said there is no question, that socialization plays a very big part.

    I know that many scientists know that the brain is plastic and can be shaped and changed by different life experiences and different enviornments too and Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen told this to me too when I spoke to her 13 years ago. DR.Van Leeuwen also said that humanbeings don’t have sex fixed in the brain and she told me that humans have a unique highly developed cerebral cortex that allows us to make choices in our behaviors and we can learn things that animals can’t.

    There was another case in Canada that I read about online some years ago about another case in which a normal genetic male baby’s penis was destroyed when he was an infant and in this case he was raised as a girl from the much younger age of only 7 months old,not as late as 21 months as was David Reimer,and research shows that the core gender identity is learned by as early as 18 months old.

    In this other case,it was reported in 1998 he was still living as a woman in his mid 20’s but a bisexual woman. With David Reimer they raised him as a girl too late after he learned most of his gender identity as a boy from the moment he was born and put into blue clothes, treated totally differently, given gender stereotyped toys, perceived and treated totally differently than girls are in every way(in the great book,He and She:How Children Develop Their Sex Role Identity it explains that a lot of research studies and tests by parent child psychologists found that they give 3 month old babies gender stereotyped toys long before they are able to develop these kinds of preferences or ask for these toys. They also found that when adults interacted with the same exact baby they didn’t know was a girl or boy who was dressed in gender neutral clothes,they decided if they *believed* it was a girl or boy. And those adults who thought the baby was a boy,always handed the baby a toy foot ball,but never a doll and were asked what made them think it was a girl or boy and they said they used characteristics of the baby to make the judgement . Those who thought the baby was a boy described characteristcs such as strength,those who thought the baby was a girl described the baby as having softness and fragility,and as the Dr.Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Wendy Schempp Mathews explain,Again remember that the same infant was being characterized as strong or soft,the actual distinction by sex characteristics being only in the minds of the adults.

    They also explain that in the toy preference studies,girl toddlers often show an intitial interest in the trucks,but eventually abandon them for a more familiar type of toy. Also check out Kate Bornstein’s books,Gender Outlaw and My Gender Workbook,and recently a co-written book,Gender Outlaws. Kate used to be a heterosexual married man who fathered a daughter and then had a sex change and became a lesbian woman who now doesn’t idenity as a man or a woman. I heard Kate interviewd in 1998 on a local NPR show and she totally debunks gender myths,and rejects the “feminine” and “masculine” categories as the mostly socially constructed categories that they really are.She even said,what does it mean to feel or think like a woman(or man) she said what does that really mean.

  12. Public release date: 4-Nov-1999
    Print E-mail Share

    Contact: Penny Burge or Sharon Snow or
    Virginia Tech

    20-year-old sex-role research survey still valid
    BLACKSBURG, Va. ­ In the late 1970s, Penny Burge, director of Virginia Tech’s Women’s Center, was working on her doctoral dissertation at Penn State University researching the relationship between child-rearing sex-role attitudes and social issue sex-role attitudes among parents. As part of her research, Burge designed a 28-question survey in which respondents were asked to mark how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as: “Only females should receive affectionate hugs as rewards,” “I would buy my son a doll,” and “I would be upset if my daughter wanted to play little league baseball.”

    Hard-hitting questions, many of them. But Burge carried on. She received her degree in 1979, and in 1981 her research findings were published in the Home Economics Research Journal.

    Among her findings were that respondents who named the mother as their child’s primary caretaker held more traditional child-rearing sex-role attitudes than respondents who named both parents. In addition, those respondents who held more traditional child-rearing sex-role attitudes also held more traditional social issue sex-role attitudes, and fathers were more conventional than mothers with respect to the issue of whether or not boys and girls should be raised differently.

    “We found that parents do cling to traditional sex-role attitudes,” Burge said. “It was more pronounced with male children where pressure to achieve was more intense.”

    Over the years, Burge occasionally received requests from other researchers for permission to use her survey in their own research. Burge always granted permission, but had redirected her research focus to gender equity in education. She had moved on in her career, serving on the faculty in Virginia Tech’s College of Human Resources and Education from 1979 to 1994 when she became director of the Women’s Center.

    But a recent request from a researcher at New Mexico State University sparked her interest. The researcher, Betsy Cahill, had used Burge’s survey (with some modifications and additions) to conduct research on early childhood teachers’ attitudes toward gender roles. After the results of Cahill’s research were completed and published in The Journal of Sex Roles in 1997, some unexpected events occurred.

    The Educational Testing Service, a national resource that makes research instruments more widely available to other researchers, requested permission to use the Burge and Cahill survey tools in its upcoming Test Collection, a reference publication for future researchers. “I was honored,” Burge said. “It was nice to have another researcher include my survey instrument in her own. And the request from the Educational Testing Service gave an additional sanction to my survey. It’s amazing to me that the same type of social questions are still valid after 20 years.”

    And no one can dispute the past two decades have brought enormous social changes in the world, which leads to the second unexpected occurrence.

    Cahill found that many of the findings from Burge’s research were still very much the same. For example, teachers who espoused traditional gender role beliefs for adults also did for children. For those who were more accepting of cross-gender role behaviors and aspirations, they were more accepting of these behaviors from girls than boys.

    Enter Sharon Snow, newly hired assistant director of the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, and the third coincidence regarding Burge’s survey tool. As part of a survey research class Snow took while working on her graduate degree at Texas Woman’s University, she cited Burge’s study in her literature review.

    “As part of the class, we conducted a survey of students to determine their attitudes about gender roles in children,” Snow said. “We found that parents do indeed drive gender-based behavior. It’s not something that just happens naturally.”

    So 20 year later, researchers find that parents still have a profound influence on their children’s gender roles.

    “The most amazing finding is that despite tremendous societal change over the past two decades, many parents still hold fast to raising their children with traditional sex-roles,” Burge said.

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    Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women by Virginia Valian
    $27.00 List Price

    Overview –
    Product Details
    Pub. Date: February 1999
    Publisher: MIT Press

    Why do so few women occupy positions of power and prestige? Virginia Valian uses concepts and data from psychology, sociology, economics, and biology to explain the disparity in the professional advancement of men and women. According to Valian, men and women alike have implicit hypotheses about gender differences — gender schemas — that create small sex differences in characteristics, behaviors, perceptions, and evaluations of men and women. Those small imbalances accumulate to advantage men and disadvantage women. The most important consequence of gender schemas for professional life is that men tend to be overrated and women underrated.Valian’s goal is to make the invisible factors that retard women’s progress visible, so that fair treatment of men and women will be possible. The book makes its case with experimental and observational data from laboratory and field studies of children and adults, and with statistical documentation on men and women in the professions. The many anecdotal examples throughout provide a lively counterpoint.

    The MIT Press

    Publishers Weekly

    Social psychologist Valian thinks that the Western world has gotten gender all wrong. “As social beings we tend to perceive the genders as alternatives to each other, as occupying opposite and contrasting ends of a continuum,” she writes, “even though the sexes are not opposite but are much more alike than they are different.” Indeed, despite nearly three decades of feminism, “gender schema”the assumption that masculine and feminine characteristics determine personality and abilitycontinue to influence the expectations and thinking of most Americans. Just about everyone, Valian writes, assumes that men are independent, task-oriented and assertive, while women are tagged as expressive and nurturing. As such, women lag behind in many professions and continue to do the lion’s share of housework and child-rearing. Girls remain less attentive in math and science, while even women who attend medical school tend to steer themselves into “gender appropriate” slots such as family practice or pediatrics. Valian bases her findings on research conducted by social scientists in fields as disparate as psychology, education, sociology and economics, and the result is a work that is both scholarly and anecdotally rich. But it also posits concrete suggestions for changing the way we view the sexes, from stepped-up affirmative action programs, to timetables for rectifying gender-based valuations. Accessible and lively, Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women’s movement to a new, more productive phase. (Jan.)

    More Reviews and Recommendations
    Editorial Reviews –

    What People Are Saying
    ” Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women”s movement to a new, more productive phase.” Publisher”s Weekly

    The MIT Press

    Features –
    Why So Slow?
    Table of Contents
    Table of Contents
    A Note on Method and Scope
    1 Gender Schemas at Work 1
    2 Gender Begins – and Continues – at Home 23
    3 Learning About Gender 47
    4 Biology and Behavior 67
    5 Biology and Cognition 81
    6 Schemas That Explain Behavior 103
    7 Evaluating Women and Men 125
    8 Effects on the Self 145
    9 Interpreting Success and Failure 167
    10 Women in the Professions 187
    11 Women in Academia 217
    12 Professional Performance and Human Values 251
    13 Affirmative Action and the Law 277
    14 Remedies 303
    Notes 333
    References 353
    Author Index 385
    Subject Index 393

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  14. Below is part of a presentation by Eastern College Gender and Christian Scholar,Psychology Professor Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

    Trinity 2007

    Opposite Sexes or Neighboring Sexes?

    C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and
    the Psychology of Gender
    Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

    Gender and Modern Social Science

    C. S. Lewis was no fan of the emerging social sciences. He saw practitioners of the social sciences mainly as lackeys of technologically-minded natural scientists, bent on reducing individual freedom and moral accountability to mere epiphenomena of natural processes (See Lewis 1943 and 1970 b). And not surprisingly (given his passion for gender-essentialist archetypes), aside from a qualified appreciation
    of some aspects of Freudian psychoanalysis (See Lewis 1952 (Book III, Chapter 4) and 1969). “Carl Jung was the only philosopher [sic] of the Viennese school for whose work [Lewis] had much respect” (Sayer 102).

    But the social sciences concerned with the psychology of gender have since shown that Sayers was right, and Lewis and Jung were wrong: women and men are not opposite sexes but neighboring sexes—and very close neighbors indeed. There are, it turns out, virtually no large, consistent sex differences in any psychological traits and behaviors, even when we consider the usual stereotypical suspects: that men are more aggressive, or just, or rational than women, and women are more empathic, verbal, or nurturing than men. When differences are found, they are always average—not absolute—differences. And in virtually all cases the small, average—and often decreasing—difference between the sexes is greatly exceeded by the amount of variability on that trait within members of each sex. Most of the “bell curves” for women and men (showing the distribution of a given psychological trait or behavior) overlap almost completely. So it is naïve at best (and deceptive at worst) to make even average—let alone absolute—pronouncements about essential archetypes in either sex when there is much more variability within than between the sexes on all the trait and behavior measures for which we have abundant data.

    This criticism applies as much to C. S. Lewis and Carl Jung as it does to their currently most visible descendent, John Gray, who continues to claim (with no systematic empirical warrant) that men are from Mars and women are from Venus (Gray 1992).

    And what about Lewis’s claims about the overriding masculinity of God? Even the late Carl Henry (a theologian with impeccable credentials as a conservative evangelical) noted a quarter of a century ago that:

    Masculine and feminine elements are excluded from both the Old Testament and New Testament doctrine of deity. The God of the Bible is a sexless God. When Scripture speaks of God as “he” the pronoun is primarily personal (generic) rather than masculine (specific); it emphasizes God’s personal nature—and, in turn, that of the Father, Son and Spirit as Trinitarian distinctions in contrast to impersonal entities… Biblical religion is quite uninterested in any discussion of God’s masculinity or femininity… Scripture does not depict God either as ontologically
    masculine or feminine. (Henry 1982, 159–60)

    However well-intentioned, attempts to read a kind of mystical gendering into God—whether stereotypically masculine, feminine, or both—reflect not so much careful biblical theology as “the long arm of Paganism” (Martin 11). For it is pagan worldviews, the Jewish commentator Nahum Sarna reminds us, that are “unable to conceive of any primal creative force other than in terms of sex… [In Paganism] the sex element existed before the cosmos came into being and all the gods themselves were creatures of sex. On the other hand, the Creator in Genesis is uniquely without any female counterpart, and the very association of sex with God is utterly alien to the religion of the Bible” (Sarna 76).

    And if the God of creation does not privilege maleness or stereotypical masculinity, neither did the Lord of redemption. Sayers’s response to the cultural assumption that women were human-not-quite-human has become rightly famous:

    Perhaps it is no wonder that women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind or no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is not act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel which borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about women’s nature. (Sayers 1975, 46)

    It is quite likely that Lewis’s changing views on gender owed something to the intellectual and Christian ties that he forged with Dorothy L. Sayers. And indeed, in 1955—two years before her death, Lewis confessed to Sayers that he had only “dimly realised that the old-fashioned way… of talking to all young women was v[ery] like an adult way of talking to young boys. It explains,” he wrote, “not only why some women grew up vapid, but also why others grew up (if we may coin the word) viricidal [i.e., wanting to kill men]” (Lewis 2007, 676; Lewis’s emphasis). The Lewis who in his younger years so adamantly had defended the doctrine of gender essentialism was beginning to acknowledge the extent to which gendered behavior is socially conditioned. In another letter that same year, he expressed a concern to Sayers that some of the first illustrations for the Narnia Chronicles were a bit too effeminate. “I don’t like either the ultra feminine or the ultra masculine,” he added. “I prefer people” (Lewis 2007, 639; Lewis’s emphasis).

    Dorothy Sayers surely must have rejoiced to read this declaration. Many of Lewis’s later readers, including myself, wish that his shift on this issue had occurred earlier and found its way into his better-selling apologetic works and his novels for children and adults. But better late than never. And it would be better still if those who keep trying to turn C. S. Lewis into an icon for traditionalist views on gender essentialism and gender hierarchy would stop mining his earlier works for isolated proof-texts and instead read what he wrote at every stage of his life.

    Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen is Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

    This essay originally was presented as the Tenth Annual Warren Rubel Lecture on Christianity and Higher Learning at Valparaiso University on 1 February 2007.

    The Cresset


    Evans, C. Stephen. Wisdom and Humanness in Psychology: Prospects for a Christian Approach. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
    Gray, John. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
    Hannay, Margaret. C. S. Lewis. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981.
    Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Vol. V. Waco, Texas: Word, 1982.
    Lewis, C. S. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. III. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
    HarperSanFrancisco, 2007.
    _____. The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1964.
    _____. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. I: 1905–1931. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
    HarperSanFrancisco, 2004a.
    _____. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. II: 1931–1949. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
    HarperSanFrancisco, 2004b.
    _____. “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,”[1952] Reprinted in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, ed., Walter Hooper, 22–34. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
    _____. “Priestesses in the Church?” [1948]. Reprinted in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper, 234–39. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970a.
    _____. “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,”[1954]. Reprinted in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper, 287–300. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970b.
    _____. “Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism,”[1942]. Reprinted in Selected Literary Essays, ed. Walter Hooper, 286–300. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1969.
    _____. [N. W. Clerk, pseudo.] A Grief Observed. London: Faber and Faber, 1961.
    _____. The Four Loves. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960.
    _____. Till We Have Faces. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1956.
    _____. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. London: Collins, 1955.
    _____. Mere Christianity. London: Collins, 1952.
    _____. That Hideous Strength. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1945.
    _____. The Abolition of Man. Oxford: Oxford University, 1943.
    _____. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Oxford: Oxford University, 1942.
    The Cresset
    _____. Perelandra. London: The Bodley Head, 1942.
    Martin, Faith. “Mystical Masculinity: The New Question Facing Women,” Priscilla Papers, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Winter 1998), 6–12.
    Reynolds, Barbara. Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul. New York: St. Martins, 1993.
    Sarna, Nahum M. Understanding Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel. New York: Schocken, 1966.
    Sayer, George. Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.
    Sayers, Dorothy L. “The Human-Not-Quite-Human,”[1946]. Reprinted in Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women
    Human?, 37–47. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1975.
    Sayers, Dorothy L. Gaudy Night. London: Victor Gollancz, 1935.
    Sterk, Helen. “Gender and Relations and Narrative in a Reformed Church Setting.” In After Eden: Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation, ed., Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, 184–221. Grand Rapids:

    Eerdmans, 1993.
    Copyright © 2007 Valparaiso University Press


  15. Sword between the Sexes?, A: C. S. Lewis and the Gender Debates – Page 188 – Google Books
    Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen – 2010 – Religion
    C. S. Lewis and the Gender Debates Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen … indicates that women and men, boys and girls, are overwhelmingly more alike than different

  16. Men and Women: No Big Difference

    Studies show that one’s sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership.
    The Truth about Gender “Differences”

    Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. A 2005 analysis of 46 meta-analyses that were conducted during the last two decades of the 20th century underscores that men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership. Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological variables, resulting in what she calls a gender similarities hypothesis. Using meta-analytical techniques that revolutionized the study of gender differences starting in the 1980s, she analyzed how prior research assessed the impact of gender on many psychological traits and abilities, including cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression, leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors.

    Hyde observed that across the dozens of studies, consistent with the gender similarities hypothesis, gender differences had either no or a very small effect on most of the psychological variables examined. Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

    Furthermore, Hyde found that gender differences seem to depend on the context in which they were measured. In studies designed to eliminate gender norms, researchers demonstrated that gender roles and social context strongly determined a person’s actions. For example, after participants in one experiment were told that they would not be identified as male or female, nor did they wear any identification, none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive. In fact, they did the opposite of what would be expected – women were more aggressive and men were more passive.

    Finally, Hyde’s 2005 report looked into the developmental course of possible gender differences – how any apparent gap may open or close over time. The analysis presented evidence that gender differences fluctuate with age, growing smaller or larger at different times in the life span. This fluctuation indicates again that any differences are not stable.

    Learning Gender-Difference Myths

    Media depictions of men and women as fundamentally “different” appear to perpetuate misconceptions – despite the lack of evidence. The resulting “urban legends” of gender difference can affect men and women at work and at home, as parents and as partners. As an example, workplace studies show that women who go against the caring, nurturing feminine stereotype may pay dearly for it when being hired or evaluated. And when it comes to personal relationships, best-selling books and popular magazines often claim that women and men don’t get along because they communicate too differently. Hyde suggests instead that men and women stop talking prematurely because they have been led to believe that they can’t change supposedly “innate” sex-based traits.

    Hyde has observed that children also suffer the consequences of exaggerated claims of gender difference — for example, the widespread belief that boys are better than girls in math. However, according to her meta-analysis, boys and girls perform equally well in math until high school, at which point boys do gain a small advantage. That may not reflect biology as much as social expectations, many psychologists believe. For example, the original Teen Talk Barbie ™, before she was pulled from the market after consumer protest, said, “Math class is tough.”

    As a result of stereotyped thinking, mathematically talented elementary-school girls may be overlooked by parents who have lower expectations for a daughter’s success in math. Hyde cites prior research showing that parents’ expectations of their children’s success in math relate strongly to the children’s self-confidence and performance.

    Moving Past Myth

    Hyde and her colleagues hope that people use the consistent evidence that males and females are basically alike to alleviate misunderstanding and correct unequal treatment. Hyde is far from alone in her observation that the clear misrepresentation of sex differences, given the lack of evidence, harms men and women of all ages. In a September 2005 press release on her research issued by the American Psychological Association (APA), she said, “The claims [of gender difference] can hurt women’s opportunities in the workplace, dissuade couples from trying to resolve conflict and communication problems and cause unnecessary obstacles that hurt children and adolescents’ self-esteem.”

    Psychologist Diane Halpern, PhD, a professor at Claremont College and past-president (2005) of the American Psychological Association, points out that even where there are patterns of cognitive differences between males and females, “differences are not deficiencies.” She continues, “Even when differences are found, we cannot conclude that they are immutable because the continuous interplay of biological and environmental influences can change the size and direction of the effects some time in the future.”

    The differences that are supported by the evidence cause concern, she believes, because they are sometimes used to support prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory actions against girls and women. She suggests that anyone reading about gender differences consider whether the size of the differences are large enough to be meaningful, recognize that biological and environmental variables interact and influence one other, and remember that the conclusions that we accept today could change in the future.

    Cited Research
    Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291-322.

    Barnett, R. & Rivers, C. (2004). Same difference: How gender myths are hurting our relationships, our children, and our jobs. New York: Basic Books.

    Eaton, W. O., & Enns, L. R. (1986). Sex differences in human motor activity level. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 19-28.

    Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 429-456.

    Halpern, D. F. (2000). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (3rd Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Associates, Inc. Publishers.

    Halpern, D. F. (2004). A cognitive-process taxonomy for sex differences in cognitive abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (4), 135-139.

    Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J. S. (2005). The Gender Similarities Hypothesis. American Psychologist, Vol. 60, No. 6.

    Leaper, C. & Smith, T. E. (2004). A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children’s language use: Talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology, 40, 993-1027.

    Oliver, M. B. & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29-51.

    Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M. & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. P., (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250-270.


    American Psychological Association, October 20, 2005

    Find this article at:

  17. Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
    Research debunks myths about cognitive difference.

    What the Research Shows

    Are boys better at math? Are girls better at language? If fewer women than men work as scientists and engineers, is that aptitude or culture? Psychologists have gathered solid evidence that boys and girls or men and women differ in very few significant ways — differences that would matter in school or at work — in how, and how well, they think.

    At the University of Wisconsin, Janet Shibley Hyde has compiled meta-analytical studies on this topic for more than 10 years. By using this approach, which aggregates research findings from many studies, Hyde has boiled down hundreds of inquiries into one simple conclusion: The sexes are more the same than they are different.

    In a 2005 report, Hyde compiled meta-analyses on sex differences not only in cognition but also communication style, social or personality variables, motor behaviors and moral reasoning. In half the studies, sex differences were small; in another third they were almost non-existent. Thus, 78 percent of gender differences are small or close to zero. What’s more, most of the analyses addressed differences that were presumed to be reliable, as in math or verbal ability.

    At the end of 2005, Harvard University’s Elizabeth Spelke reviewed 111 studies and papers and found that most suggest that men’s and women’s abilities for math and science have a genetic basis in cognitive systems that emerge in early childhood but give men and women on the whole equal aptitude for math and science. In fact, boy and girl infants were found to perform equally well as young as six months on tasks such as addition and subtraction (babies can do this, but not with pencil and paper!).

    The evidence has piled up for years. In 1990, Hyde and her colleagues published a groundbreaking meta-analysis of 100 studies of math performance. Synthesizing data collected on more than three million participants between 1967 and 1987, researchers found no large, overall differences between boys and girls in math performance. Girls were slightly better at computation in elementary and middle school; in high school only, boys showed a slight edge in problem solving, perhaps because they took more science, which stresses problem solving. Boys and girls understood math concepts equally well and any gender differences narrowed over the years, belying the notion of a fixed or biological differentiating factor.

    As for verbal ability, in 1988, Hyde and two colleagues reported that data from 165 studies revealed a female superiority so slight as to be meaningless, despite previous assertions that “girls are better verbally.” What’s more, the authors found no evidence of substantial gender differences in any component of verbal processing. There were even no changes with age.

    What the Research Means

    The research shows not that males and females are – cognitively speaking — separate but equal, but rather suggests that social and cultural factors influence perceived or actual performance differences. For example, in 1990, Hyde et al. concluded that there is little support for saying boys are better at math, instead revealing complex patterns in math performance that defy easy generalization. The researchers said that to explain why fewer women take college-level math courses and work in math-related occupations, “We must look to other factors, such as internalized belief systems about mathematics, external factors such as sex discrimination in education and in employment, and the mathematics curriculum at the precollege level.”

    Where the sexes have differed on tests, researchers believe social context plays a role. Spelke believes that later-developing differences in career choices are due not to differing abilities but rather cultural factors, such as subtle but pervasive gender expectations that really kick in during high school and college.

    In a 1999 study, Steven Spencer and colleagues reported that merely telling women that a math test usually shows gender differences hurt their performance. This phenomenon of “stereotype threat” occurs when people believe they will be evaluated based on societal stereotypes about their particular group. In the study, the researchers gave a math test to men and women after telling half the women that the test had shown gender differences, and telling the rest that it found none. Women who expected gender differences did significantly worse than men. Those who were told there was no gender disparity performed equally to men. What’s more, the experiment was conducted with women who were top performers in math.

    Because “stereotype threat” affected women even when the researchers said the test showed no gender differences – still flagging the possibility — Spencer et al. believe that people may be sensitized even when a stereotype is mentioned in a benign context.

    How We Use the Research

    If males and females are truly understood to be very much the same, things might change in schools, colleges and universities, industry and the workplace in general. As Hyde and her colleagues noted in 1990, “Where gender differences do exist, they are in critical areas. Problem solving is critical for success in many mathematics-related fields, such as engineering and physics.” They believe that well before high school, children should be taught essential problem-solving skills in conjunction with computation. They also refer to boys having more access to problem-solving experiences outside math class. The researchers also point to the quantitative portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which may tap problem-solving skills that favor boys; resulting scores are used in college admissions and scholarship decisions. Hyde is concerned about the costs of scientifically unsound gender stereotyping to individuals and to society as a whole.

    Sources & Further Reading
    Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53-69.

    Hyde, J.S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J.S. (2005) The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592.

    Spelke, Elizabeth S. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: A critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950-958.

    Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M., & Quinn, D.M. (1999) Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    American Psychological Association, January 18, 2006
    Research in Action

    Testing and Assessment

    Gender Issues




    Database: PsycINFO
    [ Journal Article ]

    Pink or blue: Gender-stereotypic perceptions of infants as conveyed by birth congratulations cards.

    Bridges, Judith S.
    Psychology of Women Quarterly, Vol 17(2), Jun 1993, 193-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1993.tb00444.x


    Examined societal gender stereotypes of infants by investigating the visual images and verbal messages present in birth congratulations cards. 61 girl and 61 boy cards from 18 establishments in 4 municipalities were subjected to a content analysis that revealed several differences between girl and boy cards. Visual images indicative of physical activity, such as action toys and active babies, were more prominent on boy than girl cards. Verbal messages of expressiveness, including sweetness and sharing, appeared on more girl than boy cards. In addition, more boy than girl birth cards presented a message of happiness for the parents and/or the baby. Findings are discussed in the context of gender stereotypes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved

  19. Below is an email I wrote to Oxford University Gender communication professor Deborah Cameron author of the great important book,The Myth Of Mars and Venus Do Men and women Really Speak Different Languages?.

    Dear Deborah,

    I recently read your great important book, The Myth Of Mars & Venus. I read a bad review of the book, The Female Brain on US by psychologist David H.Perterzell he called it junk science.

    I also thought you would want to know that John Gray got his “Ph.D” from Columbia Pacific University which was closed down in March 2001 by the California Attorney General’s Office because he called it a diploma mill and a phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

    Also there is a Christian gender and psychology scholar and author psychology professor Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leewuen who teaches the psychology and Philosophy of Gender at the Christian College Eastern College here in Pa. She has several online presentations that were done at different colleges from 2005- the present debunking the Mars & Venus myth.

    One is called , Opposite Sexes Or Neighboring Sexes and sometimes adds, Beyond The Mars/Venus Rhetoric in which she explains that all of the large amount of research evidence from the social and behavorial sciences shows that the sexes are very close neighbors and that there are only small average differences between them many of which have gotten even smaller over the last several decades and in her great even longer article that isn’t online anymore called,What Do We Mean By “Male-Female Complentarity”? A Review Of Ronald W.Pierce,Rebecca M.Groothuis,and Gordon D.Fee,eds Discovering Biblical Equality:Complentarity Without Hierarchy, which she says happened after 1973 when gender roles were less rigid and that genetic differences can’t shrink like this and in such a short period of time, and that most large differences that are found are between individual people and that for almost every trait and behavior there is a large overlap between them and she said so it is naive at best and deceptive at worst to make claims about natural sex differences. etc.

    She says he claims Men are From Mars & Women are From Venus with no emperical warrant and that his claim gets virtually no support from the large amount of psychological and behavioral sciences and that in keeping in line with the Christian Ethic and with what a bumper sticker she saw said and evidence from the behavioral and social sciences is , Men Are From,Earth ,Women Are From Earth Get Used To It. Comedian George Carlin said this too.

    She also said that such dichotomous views of the sexes are apparently popular because people like simple answers to complex issues including relationships between men and women. She should have said especially relationships between them.

    Sociologist Dr.Michael Kimmel writes and talks about this also including in his Media Education Foundation educational video. And he explains that all of the evidence from the psychological and behavioral sciences indicates that women and men are far more alike than different.

    Yet Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen says that there are no consistent large psychological sex differences found.

    I have an excellent book from 1979 written by 2 parent child development psychologists Dr. Wendy Schemp Matthews and award winning psychologist from Columbia University, Dr.Jeane Brooks-Gunn, called He & She How Children Develop Their Sex Role Idenity.

    They thoroughly demonstrate with tons of great studies and experiments by parent child psychologists that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike than different with very few differences but they are still perceived and treated systematically very different from the moment of birth on by parents and other adult care givers. They go up to the teen years.

    I once spoke with Dr.Brooks-Gunn in 1994 and I asked her how she could explain all of these great studies that show that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike with few differences but are still perceived and treated so differently anyway, and she said that’s due to socialization and she said there is no question, that socialization plays a very big part.

    I know that many scientists know that the brain is plastic and can be shaped and changed by different life experiences and different enviornments too and Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen told this to me too when I spoke to her 12 years ago.Dr.Van Leeuwen said that humanbeings don’t have sex fixed in the brain,humanbeings adapt to their environments and they develop certain characteristics in response to those envirornments,but they aren’t fixed and unchangeable.

    Also there are 2 great online rebuttals of the Mars & Venus myth by Susan Hamson called, The Rebuttal From Uranus and Out Of The Cave: Exploring Gray’s Anatomy by Kathleen Trigiani.

    Also have you read the excellent book by social psychologist Dr.Gary Wood at The University of Birmingham called, Sex Lies & Stereotypes:Challenging Views Of Women, Men & Relationships? He clearly demonstrates with all of the research studies from psychology what Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen does, and he debunks The Mars & Venus myth and shows that the sexes are biologically and psychologically more alike than different and how gender roles and differences are mostly socially created.

    Anyway, if you could write back when you have a chance I would really appreciate it.

    Thank You

  20. Pink Brain, Blue Brain

    Claims of sex differences fall apart.

    By *Sharon Begley | NEWSWEEK

    Published Sep 3, 2009

    From the magazine issue dated Sep 14, 2009

    Among certain parents, it is an article of faith not only that they should
    treat their sons and daughters alike, but also that they do. If Jack gets
    Lincoln Logs and Tetris, and joins the soccer team and the math club, so
    does Jill. Lise Eliot, a neuroscientist at Rosalind Franklin University of
    Medicine and Science, doesn’t think these parents are lying, exactly. But
    she would like to bring some studies to their attention.

    In one, scientists dressed newborns in gender-neutral clothes and misled
    adults about their sex. The adults described the “boys” (actually girls) as
    angry or distressed more often than did adults who thought they were
    observing girls, and described the “girls” (actually boys) as happy and
    socially engaged more than adults who knew the babies were boys. Dozens of
    such disguised-gender experiments have shown that adults perceive baby boys
    and girls differently, seeing identical behavior through a gender-tinted
    lens. In another study, mothers estimated how steep a slope their
    11-month-olds could crawl down. Moms of boys got it right to within one
    degree; moms of girls underestimated what their daughters could do by nine
    degrees, even though there are no differences in the motor skills of infant
    boys and girls. But that prejudice may cause parents to unconsciously limit
    their daughter’s physical activity. How we perceive children—sociable or
    remote, physically bold or reticent—shapes how we treat them and therefore
    what experiences we give them. Since life leaves footprints on the very
    structure and function of the brain, these various experiences produce sex
    differences in adult behavior and brains—the result not of innate and inborn
    nature but of nurture.

    For her new book, *Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into
    Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About It,* Eliot immersed herself in
    hundreds of scientific papers (her bibliography runs 46 pages). Marching
    through the claims like Sherman through Georgia, she explains that
    assertions of innate sex differences in the brain are either “blatantly
    false,” “cherry-picked from single studies,” or “extrapolated from rodent
    research” without being confirmed in people. For instance, the idea that the
    band of fibers connecting the right and left brain is larger in women,
    supposedly supporting their more “holistic” thinking, is based on a single
    1982 study of only 14 brains. Fifty other studies, taken together, found no
    such sex difference—not in adults, not in newborns. Other baseless claims:
    that women are hard-wired to read faces and tone of voice, to defuse
    conflict, and to form deep friendships; and that “girls’ brains are wired
    for communication and boys’ for aggression.” Eliot’s inescapable conclusion:
    there is “little solid evidence of sex differences in children’s brains.”

    Yet there are differences in adults’ brains, and here Eliot is at her most
    original and persuasive: explaining how they arise from tiny sex differences
    in infancy. For instance, baby boys are more irritable than girls. That
    makes parents likely to interact less with their “nonsocial” sons, which
    could cause the sexes’ developmental pathways to diverge. By 4 months of
    age, boys and girls differ in how much eye contact they make, and
    differences in sociability, emotional expressivity, and verbal ability—all
    of which depend on interactions with parents—grow throughout childhood. The
    message that sons are wired to be nonverbal and emotionally distant thus
    becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The sexes “start out a little bit
    different” in fussiness, says Eliot, and parents “react differently to
    them,” producing the differences seen in adults.

    Those differences also arise from gender conformity. You often see the claim
    that toy preferences—trucks or dolls—appear so early, they must be innate.
    But as Eliot points out, 6- and 12-month-olds of both sexes prefer dolls to
    trucks, according to a host of studies. Children settle into sex-based play
    preferences only around age 1, which is when they grasp which sex they are,
    identify strongly with it, and conform to how they see other, usually older,
    boys or girls behaving. “Preschoolers are already aware of what’s acceptable
    to their peers and what’s not,” writes Eliot. Those play preferences then
    snowball, producing brains with different talents.

    The belief in blue brains and pink brains has real-world consequences, which
    is why Eliot goes after them with such vigor (and rigor). It encourages
    parents to treat children in ways that make the claims come true, denying
    boys and girls their full potential. “Kids rise or fall according to what we
    believe about them,” she notes. And the belief fuels the drive for
    single-sex schools, which is based in part on the false claim that boy
    brains and girl brains process sensory information and think differently.
    Again, Eliot takes no prisoners in eviscerating this “patently absurd”
    claim. Read her masterful book and you’ll never view the sex-differences
    debate the same way again.

    *Begley is NEWSWEEK’s science editor.*

    Find this article at

  21. Women’s Activism and Oral History Project Smith College
    Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
    Northampton, MA

    Interviewed by
    November 6, 2008
    New York, NY

    © Sophia Smith Collection 2008
    Women’s Activism and Oral History Project Smith College


    Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a writer and journalist. She was born in 1939 in Jamaica, Queens. She graduated high school early and entered Brandeis University at the age of sixteen. She graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in English. After she graduated, she worked for the publishing company Bernard Geis Associates for ten years. She was soon promoted as an executive. Her first book, How to Make it in a Man’s World, reflected her experience in the company. Because it was extremely well-received, she was able to support herself as a full-time writer, first of a column in the Ladies Home Journal. She is one of the co-founders of Ms. Magazine and was a frequent contributor to it. Her articles covered a number of observations on women’s places in modernAmerican society, from the idea of motherhood to competition among women to short stories for children.


    Allison Payne is a student at Mount Holyoke College.

    This oral history covers various aspects of Pogrebin’s life but specifically focuses on her experiences at Ms. Magazine and her work on nonsexist childrearing.

    Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Transcript has been reviewed and approved by Letty Cottin Pogrebin.

    Bibliography: Pogrebin, Letty Cottin. Interview by Allison Payne. Tape recording, November 4,
    2008. An Activist Life Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection.

    Transcript of interview conducted November 6 2008, with:
    New York City


    PAYNE We’ll start from the beginning then, and then we’ll see where we can


    PAYNE Let’s see…can you tell me about what it was like growing up in
    Jamaica, Queens with your family, um…how did you grow up as a girl,
    were you treated differently from boys, by you parents, or…?

    POGREBIN I never noticed anything.

    PAYNE You never noticed?

    POGREBIN Did you read Deborah, Golda and Me?

    PAYNE Yeah.

    POGREBIN OK. Um…I don’t think there was that kind of consciousness. I mean, I
    was born in 1939, my earliest memories of anyitng political was the
    second world war, I was very aware that jews were suffering, I was
    aware that my family was sending food and clothing overseas, I knew
    about Hitler—I didn’t notice anything else. I don’t even think I was
    aware of the inequities in Judaism until I thought back on it, until I was
    excluded from the memorial minyin for public prayer. When I was
    excluded I registered this isn’t fair, because I had had a full Hebrew
    school education and I had had a botmitzvah. Are you Jewish?

    PAYNE Uh…not exactly. But…so, yeah, my family on my mom’s side is
    Jewish, but my grandmother lost her faith at some point so it never got
    handed down to my mother, and it never got handed down to me.
    POGREBIN It happens. But I’m just saying, you can stop me if you don’t recognize any of these terms—you know what a botmitzvah is…

    PAYNE Yeah, sure.

    POGREBIN So, I didn’t really register anything until then. I thought it was extremely
    unfair because my mother, she was dead, and I was 15, and why didn’t I
    count, and so on—So that was my first recognition of inequality—well,
    not really. When I was in Hebrew school the boys were given
    privileges and the girls weren’t, and they weren’t smart when some of
    the girls were.

    PAYNE What kind of privileges?

    POGREBIN Well, they could run the service—the junior congregation service—they
    could go up and have blessings….It was just clear that there were
    favored positions for boys. I graduated very early from high school,
    from college, and I was one of the youngest—was the youngest person
    ever to go to Brandeis. I was 16 when I entered and 19 when I
    graduated. So that was a very good experience because I sort of you
    know without my mother sort of raised myself [CANT

    UNDERSTAND] And when I graduated I don’t think I noticed very
    much then either because there was no feminist movement, there was
    nothing sort of raising my consciousness. I went to work because I
    couldn’t have afforded not to, and, uh, I wasn’t surprised when I was
    hired to be a secretary when the boys who graduated got distinct jobs.
    You took that for granted in those days. That was just the way the
    world worked. I knew that there was a gross unfairness in salary, I
    knew that. There was a limit on how much girls would be paid, 80
    dollars a week at the publishing company. I remember hearing that the
    most they’ll pay women is 80 dollars a week, and you better get used to
    that. And that was a lot of money to me then, to be hired at 55 dollars
    week. So 80 sounded like a lot.

    But when I got to that point where I couldn’t go any further, I
    knew that I wasn’t fair. But I didn’t make a fuss, we didn’t make a fuss
    back then. So, I…I kind of went through my 20s as a career woman and
    as a mother and as a wife, and didn’t really pay attention to anything,
    um, about equality or not equality, cause I advanced fairly quickly in
    book publishing, and uh I became an executive, and eventually I was
    paid a lot of money, cause I moved from the publishing company to
    [CAN’T UNDERSTAND]… And uh, when I was uh 29 years old, I
    think it was, I started writing the book How to Make it in a Man’s
    World, about my career. Um…that made me sort of how to think about
    my life a little more analytically. When that book was published my
    editor said, You know, you’re going to be attacked by women’s lib. I
    said, “Who’s that?” She said, “It’s a movement, and they’re gonna look
    at your book and it’s gonna be all about you and how you made it and
    how, you know, you’re a Queen B.” I said, “What’s that?” (laughter)
    I’d never heard of any of those things. And then my editor—you know,
    this is when the manuscript had just been handed in—and she gave me
    all this stuff to read, and one of the things she gave me to read was the
    manuscript for Kate Millet’s book, Sexual Politics. And it just blew my

    PAYNE So was that, like, your first awareness of feminism then?

    POGREBIN Mm, no. My first awareness of feminism was after my book was
    published, when I had be to be forewarned that I would go on radio and
    television shows and that I would probably be put on in kind of an
    adversarial situation with a women’s libber, and by the time I had read
    all the material that my editor had given me—because she knew all
    about this stuff because she was publishing Kate—by the time I was
    done reading all of that stuff I had converted myself and my husband.
    PAYNE (laughs) Just out of curiosity, how was your book received, did you get
    the response that your editor—

    POGREBIN Uh-huh

    PAYNE –anticipated?

    POGREBIN Well I got, you know, perfectly pleasant and unchallenging response
    from most people, most women, because you had to be ahead of the
    curb to know what was going on in the radical sort of circles. But I did
    have some women’s liberation people challenge me on the grounds did I
    think that my career as described in How to Make it in a Man’s World,
    if that was something anyone could do? And at that time I knew of
    course…no. ‘Cause I had read all of these analysis, I had become
    awakened to the fact that there were some places where women were
    limited to 80 dollars a week, you know, and that equivalent. So…I was
    sort of, um, self-educated at that point, and I knew enough to place my
    experience in a context.

    PAYNE Mm-hmm. OK. Um…so, how has your attachment to feminism—this is a
    very broad question—how has your attachment to feminism changed
    over time, if at all?

    POGREBIN Well I should first probably tell you about how I got involved in the
    women’s movement. From my career in publishing to my becoming an
    active feminist on a day-to-day basis was a, a sort of a giant step. When
    my first book was published, I left my job in publishing to become a
    full-time writer. Why? Because I got asked to write a column for the
    Ladies Home Journal called “Working Woman,” and I also got many
    assignments from them. That’s not how it works, usually. Writers
    scrounge and claw and I was just very fortunate that I got a good review
    for my first book. People reached out to me, so I started writing on
    women’s issues, and next thing you know I get a call from Betty
    Freidan. I don’t remember if this is in Deborah…

    PAYNE I don’t think so.

    POGREBIN I got a call from Betty Freidan, and um she said we’re gonna be starting a
    National Women’s Political Caucus and we’re having a conference in
    Washington, and I want you to come down and help me. So that was
    the sort of way Betty Freidan operated—“You will do this, you will do
    that,” and you did it! And when I got down there to this conference I
    met Gloria Steinem, and I found that I was much more compatible with
    her and her kind of feminism, which was more inclusive and less white

    PAYNE Yeah. That’s a good point.

    POGREBIN So then I got friendly with Gloria, and she asked if I wanted to help start
    Ms., and so that how I got into kind of professional feminism.

    PAYNE: About Ms. Magazine, um…What was the environment like in the early
    days among the founders and the writers?

    POGREBIN: Well, very…ultra-egalitarian. In other words, everyone was assumed to
    have authority and everyone was assumed to be equal and of course that
    wasn’t true, it was idealized because who were incapable of doing
    things were given jobs on the grounds that women have been suppressed
    and if you give them a chance they can do it—and they all were not able
    to be editors or writers. So that took us a while to sort out. We were
    using shoestrings, my desk was the carton from a dishwasher that
    somebody had thrown out. I cut a little hole in the carton for me knees,
    put my typewriter on it.. It wasn’t even an electric typewriter, it was a
    manual. And we, we were five women who started Ms. Magazine and
    we were in two tiny offices, adjoining offices. It was very low-key,

    PAYNE: So…it was a garage band, then.

    POGREBIN: Yeah, it was, it really was. And you know, we were so low-budget we
    would have published on mimeographs. But somebody came along and
    advised us that it would be cheaper to publish a real magazine, in the
    long run…We professionalized….Well, I should tell you, when we first
    published, we assumed that the magazine would be on sale for six
    weeks, eight weeks…and it sold out in 8 days all over the country.

    PAYNE: Wow.

    POGREBIN: And that’s when we knew we really…

    PAYNE: There was a real interest.

    POGREBIN: There was a movement.

    PAYNE: Yes, there was. Ms. Magazine founders were of all different
    backgrounds, just across race, class, um, religion, sexual orientation,
    and so on. How did this influence, contribute to, perhaps even disrupt
    group dynamics, if at all?

    POGREBIN: The fact that people were all different things?

    PAYNE: Yeah, or how did it change or represent the magazine as a whole?

    POGREBIN: It being the diversity?

    PAYNE: Yeah.

    POGREBIN: Um…well we were aware of the need for diversity. We had, we had,
    you know, black women—not the original first five. The original first
    five were two Jews, two Protestants—no, yeah Christians, I’m not sure
    what kind—and Gloria who was half and half. But we didn’t have any
    black women or any Latino women in the first five. But we were very
    aware of that and our editors were all different kinds, and our—and in
    our articles we were always very aware of it, and—you know, the
    hardest issue was class. Class is a very tough issue still to this day.
    Because you want to acknowledge the authentic experience of everyone,
    but…you’re not going to be able to have a high school drop out as an

    PAYNE: Yeah.

    POGREBIN: So you have a problem there. Who’s going to represent a constituency
    of lesser-educated, economically, you know, challenged people? So
    that was tough.

    PAYNE: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Um…did group dynamics change after
    Gloria Steinem’s rise to fame?

    POGREBIN: She was already very famous.

    PAYNE: At that point?

    POGREBIN: Yes. Famous enough to get people to raise money by her having lunch
    with people. She was famous, she was beautiful, she was smart, I mean,
    I think the magazine really benefited from all the things she brought to
    the table.

    PAYNE: How did working with Gloria Steinem and the whole Ms. team
    influence your ideas on feminism?

    POGREBIN: Well, I think by the time I joined Ms. I think I had become a pretty
    committed feminism from everything that I’d read. I’d read myself into
    feminism, and I, you know, I became an editor immediately, and…what
    I’d probably brought to the table, I think I was one of the few that had
    children. So I brought a kind of awareness of the family woman’s
    issues and the challenges of the home and raising kids and also having a
    job. I brought that. I also started the Stories for Free Children section
    in the magazine, which every month ran children’s stories, which was
    pretty ironic because one of the claims was that feminists didn’t like
    children and were anti-family. You know, they would like to defame us
    in any way that they could. So that was one of the charges…
    Meanwhile, we were the only magazine that had a childrens’ stories
    section. We who hated children had devoted at least four pages a month
    to children…. We had many articles on childrearing and marriage and
    house work…you know, and the inequities of the homemaker’s role… I
    think we were remarkable in that we were so ahead of the game.
    PAYNE: Definitely. And that is very important, especially then—at any time,
    really—because so many members of your audience probably also had

    POGREBIN: Yes they did.

    PAYNE: And so—

    POGREBIN: It’s a full time job.

    PAYNE: A struggle…

    POGREBIN: Yeah.

    PAYNE: What do you think was your most well-received article at Ms.?

    POGREBIN: Um…I did a piece on motherhood… Um…that was talked about a lot,
    because I really looked at the structure of motherhood and sort of the
    sociology of motherhood… Um…I did a piece called, Do women make
    men violent? Which was talked about a lot.

    PAYNE: I’m sure.

    POGREBIN: I did a piece on the power of beauty…so I kind of deconstructed beauty
    to be more honest about it, because as feminists we like to believe that
    beauty doesn’t count, it doesn’t matter, no make-up, no this, no that,
    but that was never a general rule, we simply unpacked it, we picked it
    apart, we looked at it in our lives, like what role it played in getting
    hired, not just in getting boyfriends or husbands but you know, in
    lesbian relationships it figures just as much, in jury selections—up and
    down the line beauty plays a role and people didn’t really wanna look at
    it frankly or analytically and we did.

    PAYNE: It’s a symbol of your worth.

    POGREBIN: Yeah. Still is.

    PAYNE: What do you make of the evolution of Ms.?

    POGREBIN: Well, I think it’s gone through a lot of incarnations, and now it’s
    operated by the Feminist Majority, and I think it’s fine. It doesn’t have
    a real kind…populace…mass market feeling, which we at that point, we
    really did. You could pick us up a the newsstand, but you can’t do that
    anymore. And we were able therefore to appeal to a very broad
    spectrum. Now, Ms. appeals to committed movement women and
    people in college. Which is fine, because you know what, all the other
    women’s magazines now run stuff that we used to be the only ones that
    ran, things on sexual harassment or rape or poverty, I mean, you can
    read that now in Redhook and McCalls. If there is a Redhook and
    McCall now.

    PAYNE: I don’t know about Redhook or McCalls, but you can read it in Oprah,

    POGREBIN: Yeah. So Ms. doesn’t have to have any CANT UNDERSTAND that we
    did. And I don’t think you can buy it on a newsstand. But I think it’s
    useful for college people to see international feminism.

    PAYNE: Yeah, definitely.

    POGREBIN: What school are you from?

    PAYNE: I go to Mount Holyoke.

    POGREBIN: How did you come to me in the first place?

    PAYNE: I’m taking a class at Smith called Oral History and Women’s Activism.

    POGREBIN: Mmhmm.

    PAYNE: And we each have to find someone who we would like to do an oral
    history on. So I chose to get in touch with you because I’m very
    interested in journalism and you worked with Ms. and I love Ms.

    POGREBIN: I see.

    PAYNE: Um…So, back to the questions. So much of your work has been about
    non-sexist childrearing. I was wondering if you could talk about how
    you came to this subject…I’m guessing you had children?

    POGREBIN: (laughs) Good guess.

    PAYNE: Go me…

    POGREBIN: In 1971 the first issue—um…the first issue came out—actually, January
    of ’72, but we were working on it in 1971. In 1971 I had two six year
    old girls and a three year old boy. So my kids were raised on my—I
    was educating myself as I was raising them—and, if you get to read that
    article you’ll see how it made me stop and think about everything I was
    doing. And it basically happened when I was coming home from
    work—I worked 3 days a week, a ten hour day, so by the end of the
    week I had worked maybe 30 hours or 36 hours, and then of course I
    brought work home and I wrote and so on. But the point is that I was
    working at Ms. and I was able to do both. And the other four days—or
    the two days of the weekend—I was really like a full-time mom. So…I
    never kind of looked at my life in any sort of—Well, what should I
    change or what should I challenge or what would a feminist do except
    where my own life was concerned. I never looked at it where my kids
    were concerned. So one day I come home from work with a basketball
    set that you attach to a closet door and it comes with a little nerve door
    that doesn’t beak the lamps…And I put it on the door of my son’s closet.
    And my husband came home and said, “Why did you put it on David’s
    door, he’s 3 years old!” You can’t do this. (laughter) And it was like, a
    light when off in my head—Yeah, I have two six year old girls, very
    athletic, they’re very active, they do everything, and I put this on my
    son’s door. It was like this unconscious boy equals basketball. That I
    will always remember was my first moment of…epiphanic moment, and
    I started to look at everything I did that was so unthinking. You know I
    mean, ‘Have the boys do this and the girls do that,’ and it had nothing to
    do with age, it had nothing to do with reality, it had everything to do
    with pink is girl and blue is boy. And so I started to, in their rooms, I
    would make sure that the girls had every kind of toy—trucks and action
    toys and books about adventure—and the boy’s room would have tea
    sets and dolls. That’s why you see in that painting, he has two dolls, he
    also has a rocket. (laughs) You know what I mean? They were a
    product of the open-opportunity childhood…In 1976, my girls were
    eleven, so they had had many years of our changed way of childrearing.
    I became fascinated by how we track and brainwash children and don’t
    let them become who they are, who they’re meant to be. So I started to
    kind of…blow that all open and…You know Free to Be You and Me?

    PAYNE: No…

    POGREBIN: Well go right out—run, do not walk—and get Free to Be You and Me.
    You will…really, you will be so charmed… And you know, Stories for
    Free Children, the stories that were in every issue of Ms. Magazine, I
    put together a book of those stories and they were all about, you
    know…girls becoming adventurers and boys discovering their feelings
    and mommies can be anything and all of that. And that became a

    fascination, almost an obsession of mine, and I wrote about called
    Growing Up Free, which is on nonsexist childrearing, published in

    PAYNE: Just a quick question… Did you find that your nonsexist childrearing
    ever conflicted with the messages your children were receiving from the

    POGREBIN: Oh, yes.

    PAYNE: How did they deal with that?

    POGREBIN: Well it was completely counter to the received wisdom all around them,
    which was that boys don’t play with dolls. But everyone who came to
    this house—we had consciousness raising meetings in this room and
    they would be up there sitting on the balcony listening, so it was
    normalized in our family. But they would see me on—every year I used
    to do a review of the toys on the market, and this room would be full of
    sample toys, because I would write about them in the magazine. You’ll
    see if you look back at the December issues every year, toys for free
    children. And so my kids would see me testing toys and I would say,
    Look at this package…[CAN’T UNDERSTAND]… And it really
    makes girls feel odd, choosing. Same with pink and blue. So they kind
    of came along with me, and we would all try out the toys. First of all,
    most of it was junk. I would rate them based on safety, quality,
    packaging, and sexism. And they [my children] were tuned in. The rest
    of the culture would be sending them messages and they would feel
    sorry for the rest of the kids who weren’t allowed to play with certain
    toys. They were allowed to play with anything! I never said, You can’t
    play with that because you’re a boy, or You can’t play with that because
    you’re a girl. So…they started to feel sorry for kids who were limited
    by parents who were, like…nuts. Why doesn’t their mom let them do
    that? You know, and we would have discussions about it.

    PAYNE: Yes, they sound much freer.

    POGREBIN: They were much freer.

    PAYNE: OK. What were some difficulties in raising children—sons in
    particular—to be nonsexist?

    Letty Cottin Pogrebin, interviewed by Allison Payne Tape 1 of 1 Page 10 of 14
    Women’s Activism and Oral History Project Smith College

    POGREBIN: Well, only that he had the safety in this house of being whoever he
    wanted to be. And when he went out into the world he
    was…unconventional. So he would have to answer for himself. And
    that was very strengthening for him. My son loves to cook, he ended up
    going to chef school, he became a chef, now he’s in the restaurant

    PAYNE: Does he have a restaurant in the city?

    POGREBIN: He works on the West Side. He’s a general manager.

    POGREBIN: OK. I’ll always remember when—I don’t know if you’ve ever been to
    summer camp……we were listening and we were all sitting around
    here….And at one point he said we have a wonderful man-made lake, a
    great art program…. The guy leaves, it sounded like a really wonderful
    camp, and my son says, “I’m not going to that camp.” So we said,
    “Why? What’s wrong with it?” And he said, “it’s sexist.” And we
    said, “Well how do you know it’s sexist?” “He said they had a manmade
    lake!” … He would never say man-made, he would say artificial.
    Because when a kid hears “man-made” they see men making something.
    And he knew enough—he was very tuned-in to language… Another
    time, he was with his class somewhere—in the Botanical Gardens, I
    think—and he said, “Oh, that’s such a lovely flower!” And his friends
    made fun of him for saying lovely.

    PAYNE: That’s sad!

    POGREBIN: I know, it’s awful. But he talked back. He knew enough to say, “I use
    all kinds of words. I use all the words that I know. And that is a lovely

    PAYNE: It shows that feminism can liberate men too.

    POGREBIN: Exactly.

    PAYNE: So…I wanna shift the conversation more towards feminism in general.
    You wrote in your book, Deborah, Golda and Me, “every woman is the
    author of her own emancipation.” I love that. How would you describe
    your own emancipation?

    POGREBIN: Well certainly it was through my research. I researched feminism in a
    way that freed me to become who I was and also freed me from the
    scriptures of old thinking. I was an executive in a book publishing
    company, but I would have spent my life in a very naïve universe had I
    not come to understand the condition of other women.


    Transcribed by Allison Payne, 2008.
    © Sophia Smith Collection 2008

  22. Feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s son didn’t reject playing with dolls and tea sets, just as her identical twin daughters didn’t reject the non-gender stereotyped toys and behaviors she encouraged them to have. And her son didn’t grow up gay he’s married and I think has children,but he didn’t grow up to be a macho football player either,as Letty said he’s a chef and loves to cook.

    And as you all already know and understand, there is a lot wrong with sexist very limiting gender roles,gender myths and gender stereotypes that are mostly artificially created by the very sexist,gender divided,gender stereotyped,woman-hating male dominated family and society we all live in,which makes both sexes,into only half of a person,instead of full human people able to develop and express their full shared *human* traits,abilities,and behaviors etc. And then these artificial gender differences continue to re-inforce gender inequalites,male dominance and men’s violence against women,children and even each other.

    There is a great 2005 book,Sex Lies And Stereotypes Challenging Views Of Women,Men and Realtionships by social and cognitive British psychologist Dr.Gary Wood.He too shows plenty of great important research studies done over decades by many different psychologists that finds small average sex differences,and the sexes are much more sminilar than different.He also thoroughly demonstrates that gender roles,gender myths and gender stereotypes which are mostly socially and cultrually constructed,harm both sexes because they are very limting,cause conflicts and misunderstands between women and men,and only allow each of them to become half of a person which can cause mental and physical conditions and diseases.

  23. […] On this blog there are also other interesting articles and statements such as one on the “brain sex argument” of transsexuals. Gender Identity Disorder is very much a mental illness – This is an […]

  24. cerulean blue · ·

    A discussion of the poor quality of brain science, containing an interview with John Ioaniddis is the cover story of this week’s New Scientist– “Mirages of the mind: the more we probe the brain, the less we understand it.”

    Article is behind a paywall, but definitely worth a look– here are some key paragraphs/ideas:

    A link to a 2008 article by Vul, Pashler, et al that examined 53 fMRI studies and found half of them had “seriously defective” methods, making their results untrustworthy.

    “…consider that a typical fMRI scan of the whole brain contains as many as 100,000 three-dimensional pixels, called voxels – a vast amount of data to analyse. Researchers use specialised software to find clusters of voxels that light up when participants view images that trigger, say, empathy or emotional responses. However, the challenge is that true signals can be obscured by underlying random fluctuations in those voxels – a bit like the static noise on an untuned TV. fMRI software tries to filter that out but it cannot work miracles, so many areas will inevitably show some increased activity simply by fluke.

    Ideally, neuroimagers should use two sets of scans. One set is for identifying which voxel clusters are highly activated during the experiment. Having found these regions, you then look at them specifically in the second set of scans to confirm that the response wasn’t due to random fluctuations, and then measure its size. But Pashler and Vul found that many researchers instead made the mistake of using just one data set for both the initial and final analysis, which allows the random noise to inflate an apparent link to a behavioural response or trait. Such “double-dipping” led researchers to some exciting but premature conclusions, including overly simplistic ideas about the origin of personality traits. Neuroticism, for instance, was chalked up to stronger activity in a pair of almond-shaped regions called the amygdalae, which are known to be involved in fear and other negative emotions.

    Confirming that the problem was spread far and wide, Baker and colleagues at NIMH looked at all the fMRI studies published in five top journals in 2008. Of the 134 papers, 42 per cent had made double-dipping errors (Nature Neuroscience, vol 12, p 535). The flawed method is also common in studies of single-neuron responses in animals, as well as in genetic analyses, Baker’s team noted.”

    “After the furore died down, many fMRI researchers realised that the critiques were essentially right. Voodoo correlations and double-dipping appear to be less common now, and the idea that you can map complex personality traits to a few specific regions like the amygdalae is increasingly considered to be “a pipe dream”, says cognitive neuroscientist Tal Yarkoni, also at the University of Texas at Austin. Personality traits are now thought to be associated “with lots of different brain regions interacting in complex ways”, he says.

    But as researchers patched up those holes in their methods, other equally serious concerns began to emerge. Last year, for instance, a jaw-dropping study from the University of Michigan demonstrated that an fMRI experiment could be analysed in nearly 7000 ways – and the results could vary hugely. With so much flexibility, neuroimagers can unintentionally (or indeed deliberately) analyse their experiments in a way that yields the most favourable results. One tongue-in-cheek report showed that even a dead salmon’s brain could appear to be “thinking” inside a scanner if the wrong techniques were used.

    The most alarming wake-up call came from Ioannidis this May, with a paper showing that the problems run much deeper than flawed fMRI studies. Working with experimental psychologists Katherine Button and Marcus Munafo of the University of Bristol, UK, and others, he analysed 48 review papers that collectively had scrutinised 730 studies examining the risk factors and treatments for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic pain. The experiments used many different methods, including measures of cognitive functioning, gene testing, and clinical trials. From this, the team estimated the odds that each study was able to detect something that was truly there to be discovered – otherwise known as its “statistical power”.

    The results were grim. The average overall power was about 20 per cent, largely because the number of subjects used in the experiments was simply too small for reliable results to come out of them, even if they passed the standard statistical tests (Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol 14, p 365). In other words, four out of five studies might have been missing the actual biological effect or mechanism sought, and therefore reported false negatives.

    But that’s not all. The low power delivers a double whammy of uncertainty: not only are you likely to be missing the evidence even if it’s under your nose, but “if you do detect something that seems to be significant, it has a higher chance of being a false positive”, Ioannidis says.

    The picture was even more troubling when looking specifically at structural MRI studies that studied the physical anatomy of the brain (as opposed to the changing neural activity that shows up in functional MRI). The average statistical power of studies linking structural abnormalities to mental health conditions such as depression or autism was a feeble 8 per cent – meaning that 92 per cent of the investigations would have failed to make true discoveries and in many cases detected something that was not really there.”

    “As in many fields, published neuroscience studies tend to show more positive results than would be expected, something Ioannidis and his colleagues confirmed through further work examining bias in fMRI investigations and animal studies of neurological illnesses. Some of this bias arises simply because negative studies are not published very often. But another possibility, Ioannidis says, is “data dredging” – researchers fishing through and analysing subsets of their results until they find something favourable to publish.

    To know exactly which or how many of the reports are right or wrong would mean attempting to replicate all the findings, which usually is not done. But based on his experience with other research fields, Ioannidis thinks that the vast majority of neuroscience studies published these days are likely to be incorrect. “Neuroscience is in serious trouble,” he says.”

    “A sceptic’s guide to neuromania
    While the neuroscientist’s toolkit comes into question (see main article), there are also many common pitfalls in the way the results are interpreted to explain complex traits and behaviours.

    For instance, you will often read about differences in brain activity or structure that appear to be linked to psychopathic tendencies, with studies showing that convicted murderers have reduced activity in areas associated with empathy when they see images of people suffering. Defence lawyers might use this as evidence that a defendant had diminished responsibility, and some pundits have even pondered whether it might be possible to identify people who are more likely to commit a crime. But there are probably plenty of people who show the similar quirks in the brain scanner, with no criminal intensions. (Indeed, doctors are thought to tone down their own empathic response to pain to help them manage a patient’s distress.) And differences in a murderer’s brain may be the result of their past brutality, not the cause.

    Similar “neurocentric” arguments are sometimes used when talking about drug abuse as a “brain disease”. There is no doubt that addictive substances do create long-lasting changes to our neural circuity, but as psychiatrist Sally Satel and clinical psychologist Scott Lilienfeld point out in their book Brainwashed (Basic Books, 2013), this view can devalue many other factors, including stress, the influence of friends, and access to drugs. In this way, it might distract addicts from psychological strategies such as avoiding cues that trigger a craving. Satel and Lilienfeld also point out that placing all the blame on the brain’s circuits could diminish people’s belief in their own self-control, whereas about 80 per cent of addicts do manage to kick the habit.

    Brain science clearly has big potential for medicine and the law. But it is crucial to realise that our neurology need not rule our fate.”

  25. […] Unless you are referring to the “male” and “female” brain, which has been debunked. (x)(x) Or perhaps you are referring to biological sex? Which, all of the plastic surgery in the world […]

  26. So scientists have been trying to prove sex differences for years to justify female oppression, to find a reason why men should remain in control of their mind. To prove female thinking is flawed in some way to make her incapable of rationality. Now they hope to achieve it in this new biological era, and they are gonna achieve it hands down. Why? Because they have ensured not many women are in science, and ones that are end up doing mini tasks on the projects men run.

  27. Sorry to burst your bubble but none these appear to be actual studies on the human brain, they appear to simply highlight the flaws in brain-sex theory instead, do you know anywhere where I can find actual experiments?

  28. You are not bursting my bubble. Buy or download the books and look at the biobliographies. That’s how you find the studies they are critiquing.

  29. […] Brain sex does not exist […]

  30. Wildcat · ·

    I always was surprised how scientists could jump into conclusions without really convincing study. I am a physicist, not a neuroscientist, but there are basic rules for any experimental study – good representative statistics, repeatability, realizing the fact that correlation doesn’t mean causation. Now, I see that the theory is not only incorrect, it is harmful for society. We see an increase of number of “transgender” kids. They are not homosexual, they are even too young to think about sexuality but they just don’t want to fit in one of two narrow boxes – male or female. They want to play with dolls and play soccer or football and wear pink and blue and they could be good in math… Now, the only way they can escape prejudice is to say they are transgender. But what will they do when they will figure out that they are heterosexual boys and girls and start felling in love with opposite sex but they still don’t fit the gender stereotypes? Why can’t we just admit that it is a part of normal for a girl to have stereotypically male brain and for a boy to have stereotypically female brain. It doesn’t make they a deviation or abnormal.

  31. Hi Elizabeth

    I really enjoy your work and have found your analysis of gender to be very insightful and inspiring 🙂 I wonder if I could ask your opinion on julia serano’s holistic gender theory? I have been formulating my own critique and would love to hear your insights. Im not sure serano has ever explicitly mentioned brain sex, but does argue that biological, cultural and psychological factors all play a role in “gender”, which according to serano is neither wholly artificial nor wholly natural. Would much appreciate any thoughts!

    With thanks and kind regards

  32. […] You have addressed that before. You demonstrated it as fact. But, the truth is, its a theory. Its not a proven fact. Brain sex does not exist | Sex matters. […]

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