An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Are men and women INHERENTLY DIFFERENT?

There is a fair bit of controversy on the differences between genders. Do men and women think and behave differently? A year ago, the president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.

Science is a broad area. And it includes not only Physics and Chemistry but also Biology. Now an British scientist Peter Lawrence – in his paper titled “Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science” has questioned why, when 60 per cent of biology students are female (which kind of counters Summers assertion of lack of scientific zeal amongst women), only 10 per go on to become professors. That is indeed an important question.

Peter Lawrence does give the benefit of “evaluating” men and women “differently” so that women could get their due. But for that to happen, Political correctness in the intellectual world needs to be worked upon!

Here I will argue, as others have many times before, that men and women are born different. Yet even we scientists deny this, allowing us to identify the “best” candidates for jobs and promotions by subjecting men and women to the same tests. But since these tests favour predominantly male characteristics, such as self-confidence and aggression, we choose more men and we discourage women. Science would be better served if we gave more opportunity and power to the gentle, the reflective, and the creative individuals of both sexes. And if we did, more women would be selected, more would choose to stay in science, and more would get to the top.

Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, like in her earlier tirade against Summers is also active in lobbying against the Brit scientist! His paper was not published by Science with this explanation, which on the face of it sounds patently facetious:

“So much has been written on all sides of this problem that it sets a very high bar for novelty and persuasiveness, and although we liked your essay we have had to decide to reject it.”

Is the testing and evaluation techniques and mechanics heavily loaded in favor of males – whose inherently prominent characteristics form the basis of the sine qua non of success? What if the world of science and business, did away with the “male bias” by first and foremost getting above the political correctness and admitting that there is an INHERENT DIFFERENCE in the genders and address them accordingly!

The amazing thing is that the objection to the admission comes most vehemently from women.. the VERY constituency the future in the “gender different” world would serve BEST!

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2 Comments
  1. Ambhoja says

    While evolution may play a role in what we perceive are learned behaviors, gender bias is not one of them. I am aware of issue after issue of female scientists who did research under male led teams only to
    be forgetten when great breaking discoveries were published. The cancer researcher Candace Pert would be a good example. Some scientists seem to be able to use empirical reasoning with a test tube, but not with human relations.

  2. Ambhoja says

    While evolution may play a role in what we perceive are learned behaviors, gender bias is not one of them. I am aware of issue after issue of female scientists who did research under male led teams only to
    be forgetten when great breaking discoveries were published. The cancer researcher Candace Pert would be a good example. Some scientists seem to be able to use empirical reasoning with a test tube, but not with human relations.

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