Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

23 December 2009

Girls Rule... Boys Drool?

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog. 

Maria Shriver says that the battle of the sexes is over, but I think she's wrong. Not because I think that women and girls are better than those of another gender, but because there are still battles to be fought.

The SAT released their latest findings in gender differences on the standardized test and some want to interpret it as more proof that girls can't do math and science. OK, to explain why there aren't more women in science at least. Same conclusion in my eyes. Of course the flip side of that argument is that there aren't any gender differences. But wait a minute; medical science continues to prove that there are biological differences between men and women, this time in the arena of heart drugs. So what's the real deal with gender differences then?
Dr. Lise Eliot tries to answer that question in a tome of a book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain. What I found in PBBB is simply yes, there are differences between the genders, but how those differences are interpreted is often within our control.

Eliot spends a lot of time in the book looking at gender differences in the womb and in early infancy, where there is minimal influence by meddling parents and the society. As the mother of a girl and two boys, Eliot was just trying to filter out bad media reports and misused scientific reports. She told me that she is a feminist who believes that there is a boys crisis, that classrooms need to be more boy-friendly and that competition is good for girls, too. But she also believes that the way we socialize infants and toddlers plays out in how well they do with caregiving and spatial tasks in the future.

So where does that leave us?

I guess that depends on whether or not you think that girls will be girls or you can raise a boy to be equally adept at math as he is at changing diapers. AND if you think you can have any effect on that outcome. As I said in my review, Pink Brain, Blue Brain, is a lengthy book, but I do think it's a fair book about the issues. As your parents told you about dinner, take small bites and chew slowly. That sage advice applies to exploring gender differences as well.


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