ReadingGuide4 - Reading Guide Week 4 Reflection Topic The...

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Reading Guide - Week 4 Reflection Topic: The population of men and women differ on average in how well they perform on some skill tests (e.g., SATs, various spatial and memory tasks). For example, women tend to score higher on certain verbal and memory tests, whereas men tend to score higher on (some but not all) spatial tests, particularly mental spatial rotations. There is greater variance in men’s IQ, but in terms of averages, men’s and women’s mean intelligence is about the same on general intelligence tests. The role of testosterone and other androgens as a proximate cause behind sex differences has been identified by many studies. Adult women who were exposed to unusually high levels of androgens in the womb due to a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia score significantly higher on tests of spatial ability. Girls with this condition play more with "boys' toys" and less with "girls' toys" than unaffected controls. Many studies find positive correlations between testosterone levels in normal males and measures of spatial ability. As suggested by sex differences in skills tests, it is possible that sexual dimorphism may also exist in regard to intellectual abilities in humans, and that these differences are products of selection for sexually dimorphic behavior in the EEA. Another possibility is the effects of socialization. Girls are sometimes discouraged from studying math or science. Similarly, boys are sometimes discouraged from displaying empathy, or from spending excessive time reading for pleasure. These findings have provoked controversy at various times, often because political implications were perceived to be attached to them. Recently, evidence for whether men and women have different aptitudes has been taken to reveal whether disproportionate employment or payment of men is a form of sexism or simply a reflection of innate aptitudes. In January 2005, Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, unintentionally provoked a public controversy when MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins leaked comments he made at a closed economics conference at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In analyzing the disproportionate numbers of men over women in high-end science and engineering jobs, he suggested that after the conflict between employers' demands for high time commitments and women's disproportionate role in the raising of children, the next most important factor might be the above-mentioned greater variance in intelligence among men than women, and that this difference in variance might be intrinsic, adding that he "would like nothing better than to be proved wrong". The controversy generated a great deal of media attention. Some of the criticism arose because Summers' assertion was misconstrued to mean that men are somewhat more intelligent than women on average. As a result of reactions to his comments, Summers was forced to make a number of apologies, and led Harvard to commit $50 million to the recruitment and hiring of women faculty. Should people in
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  • Spring '08
  • CindyBenelli
  • Sociology, Inequity aversion, Advantageous inequity aversion

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