June 25, 2006
"this kind of bias makes me physically ill..."
There is clear evidence that men perform better at spatial tasks and women outpace men on tests of verbal usage and perceptual speed, according to research conducted by Wendy Johnson, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Minnesota, and Thomas Bouchard, director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Adoption Research. The findings, which will be published in the journal Intelligence, indicate that there is little difference in how the genders fare as far as general intelligence, however. But since engineering positions are overwhelmingly filled by men, this further supports the theory that spatial abilities are key to success in the field.
The researchers examined three dimensions of intelligence:
• Rotation-verbal--higher spatial (mental rotation) abilities vs. higher verbal abilities;
• Focus-diffusion--problem solving by focusing on details in a linear fashion, vs. problem solving from many different perspectives at once, synergistically; and
• Memory--information retention independent of general intelligence.
Johnson and Bouchard found that there are substantial differences in how men and women approach these dimensions. Men are more likely to be geared toward the rotation and focus dimensions, while women tend to be more verbal, diffuse, and able to excel in the memory dimension. They also learned that "general intelligence [or IQ] serves as an all-purpose problem-solving ability that masks sex differences in more specialized abilities." This underscores the need to measure the individual dimensions, not just IQ, to deliver a more holistic view of a person's intelligence.
Sensible folks realize that aptitude testing only leads to the reinforcement of outdated gender stereotypes.
Posted by Cassandra at June 25, 2006 11:48 AM
Maybe if we pooled our strengths and abilities we could solve more problems? Just a thought!
Posted by: vet66 at June 25, 2006 01:41 PM
Women are certainly more verbose, but what percentage of the great poets have been women? If you answered, "Less than one percent," I think you're pretty close.
That's not to say that women don't have a special kind of 'verbal intelligence,' so to speak. It's just to say that intelligence is even more specialized than this study shows. Even in verbal ability, there are certain modes of expression that are largely 'female modes,' and others that are largely masculine.
Posted by: Grim at June 25, 2006 03:06 PM
The nit I pick with the phrase "out-moded gender stereotypes" is that rather than allowing individuals follow their talents, it has allowed for the dismissal as "unworthy" particular roles of the old "women's work" stereotype.
Thus you have that idiot professor/philosopher Linda Hirschman who contends that child-rearing and housekeeping are shit jobs for anyone (boy, I bet that makes kids feel good about themselves) or the continued snide remarks about people - especially men - who take time off from work to stay home with their small children - as "failures" (one of the usual slams against Jeff Goldstein.)
I love the second link ... all human beings should have the opportunity to develop their natural abilities—their distinctive gifts—so they can attain fulfillment in their lives, and through these gifts contribute to society.
It's nice to go to a hospital and see not only female doctors but male nurses.
Each to his/her own drummer and dance like no one is watching!
Posted by: Darleen at June 25, 2006 03:25 PM
Let me get this straight: Linda thinks being a stay at home mom is a crappy job, but thinks men who choose to do so are emasculated? Clearly she has issues with her parents and either needs to get Dr. Laura to shrink her head or she needs to get in touch with her inner chylde and participate in primal scream therapy.
Fortunately my happiness in life is not dependent on her opinion of me or what I chose and continue to choose to do.
Her musings would be worthy of fertilizing the houseplants, except that would be too cruel to them.
Posted by: Cricket at June 25, 2006 06:08 PM