Men vs. women: Why we’re imagining equality all wrong
It's possible to seek equality without seeking sameness.
Heather Heying is an evolutionary biologist and former Professor at Evergreen State College. She applies the tool kit of evolutionary theory to problems large and small, some seemingly intractable, some possibly trivial—what to eat, how to teach and parent and be an upstanding citizen, what to avoid, and what to seek.
Heather came to prominence after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers at Evergreen State College.
HEATHER HEYING: Should we seek identical outcomes for men and women on all tasks because our imagining of what equality looks like is that equality must be same?
Male and female are concepts that are real and far older than us as humans, older than primates, older than mammals, older than vertebrates. Man and woman obviously are the human names for adult forms of male and female and it would be beyond surprising if we were identical in every way except for the obvious ways that we're reproductively not identical. We can, we should recognize our difference and be equal under the law, be equal in our expectations for what we can achieve, be equal in our ability to move into particular careers that we might want to move into while simultaneously recognizing that at the population level males as a population and females as a population are on average different. It's not to say better or worse on average across the board, but that there will be places, there will be things that you can measure, there will be parameters that are actually relevant to being human and to moving around in the world where women are on average better than men and places where men are on average better than women.
With regard to some measures of mathematical intelligence the greater male variability hypothesis, for which there is research evidence, suggests that males and females are basically the same on average, but the standard deviation for men is higher, which means that you expect to see more men at both tails of the distribution, which is to say more male geniuses in this particular regard and more male idiots as well, men who can't do math at all and men who are much better than the vast majority of the population. Not to say that there aren't women in both of those categories as well, but you expect to see more men. To take an example of a character on which women on average are better than men we have measures of linguistic capability such as reading and writing. With regard to reading and writing and other linguistic activities women are on average better.
I would argue then that we should seek equality without seeking sameness: seeking equality means recognizing difference, being honest with ourselves about what differences are and honoring the choices that people make when you're in a system in which all barriers to entry for various careers have been eroded. So allow girls and boys equally to make choices that they would like to make, but instead of, for instance, forcing girls to play with trucks and boys to play with dolls, some of them want to, many of them don't, many girls don't want to play with dolls either, let children choose what they want to choose and don't be appalled and don't assume that society is putting people down when on average there are differences between the sexes.
- Males and females as a population, on average, are different. Beyond obvious differences in reproductive systems, research has shown measurable differences between the sexes in areas such as linguistic capabilities.
- Evolutionary biologist Heather Heying argues that while males and females should be equal under the law, that does not mean that their differences should be ignored. "We should seek equality without seeking sameness."
- People should be given the freedom to make choices, not forced to engage in activities in the name of equality.
New study of gamma rays and gravitational lensing points to the possible presence of dark matter.
- Analyzing data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, researchers find hints of dark matter.
- The scientists looked to spot a correlation between gravitational lensing and gamma rays.
- Future release of data can pinpoint whether the dark matter is really responsible for observed effects.
An inside look at common relationship problems that link to how we were raised.
- Fear of abandonment or other attachment issues can stem from childhood loss (the death of a parent) but can also stem from mistreatment or emotional neglect as a child.
- Longitudinal studies have proven that a child's inability to maintain healthy relationships may be significantly impaired by having an insecure attachment to a primary caregiver during their early development.
- While these are common relationship problems that may be rooted in childhood experiences, as adults, we can break the cycle.
Tech is rising and America's middle class is vanishing. Here's what to do.
- The rise of new technologies is making the United States more economically unequal, says Professor Ramesh Srinivasan. Americans should be pushing the current presidential candidates hard for answers on how they will bring economic security and how they will ensure that technological transitions benefit all of us.
- "We are at an inflection point when it comes to top-down control over very many different aspects of our lives through privatized corporate power over technology," says Srinivasan. Now is the time to debate solutions like basic income and worker-owned cooperatives.
- Concurrently, individuals should develop digital literacy and get educated on the potential solutions. Srinivasan recommends taking free online and open courses from universities like Stanford and MIT, and reading books and quality journalism on these issues.