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Gender Differences

So, on Wednesday evening I popped over to the Dana Centre for a talk on The War of the Sexes.

Bit of an unrepresentative title as the most of the research discussed was to do with inter-gender differences rather than cross-gender ones.

In short the findings of the research covered suggested:

- Men are generally better at whole arm movements then fine hand and finger movements and can generally work better with objects in far-sight.
- Women are generally better at fine hand and finger movements then whole arm movements and can generally work better with objects in near-sight.

It was speculated this was due to originally being hunter-gathers. The male hunters would need whole arm movements to use tools for hunting and defending and would generally be looking at distant objects. The female gathers would generally be using fine finger movements to pick, gather and care for the young and would generally be looking at objects close by.

There was no discussion as to how the ranges over-lapped for men and women though.

- People colour preferences can be measured as a combination of a red-green and blue-yellow scale. Women generally have a preference for the red end of the red-green scale, but the same is not true for men.

This apparently showed up in cultures where there wasn't such a strong social connection between pink and girls. Although, it was speculated that this explained the pink for girls, blue for boys thing, there didn't seem to be any strong preference for blue in boys, but then thinking about our culture the blue for boys thing doesn't seem as strong a cultural norm as the pink for girls.

It was once again speculated that this was down to our hunter-gather origins and the need for gathers to pick out red (e.g. berries) from green (e.g. leaves).

- If you put a child in a circle of toys they tend to play more with the ones stereotypical for their gender.

It was clear how much cultural expected impacted on this though. However, it was apparently also true to an extent for monkeys with female monkeys tending to play more will dolls and male ones more with cars. Obvious maternal instinct was speculated as the reason for the dolls. Apparently they had a habit of turning them upside down to find out what sex they were.

All in all it was an interesting talk, but wasn't quite what it was advertised to be. I got the impression there were a lot of people there who were expecting to be able to discuss how much gender difference should influence roles in society, which this didn't even touch upon.

There certainly didn't seem much here to argue for the traditional partitioning of roles between the genders, especially when most modern roles require less manual labour and are more service based.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
7th Feb, 2009 13:06 (UTC)
Apparently they had a habit of turning them upside down to find out what sex they were.

But of course when the boy monkeys turned the cars upside down, it had nothing to do with that. :-p
9th Feb, 2009 19:43 (UTC)
I was vaguely under the impression that the pink/blue thing was relatively recent - last hundred years or so - though I don't have a cite for this unfortunately. The kind of thing that ought to be thoroughly established one way or another before going on to speculate about evolutionary origins though!
9th Feb, 2009 21:40 (UTC)
As I said, the results were similar in countries where there isn't a strong pink=girls culture, so it may be something instinctive.

However, none of the scientists were pushing the speculation that much, it was more of an "it could be this" type thing.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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