As Barriers Disappear, Some Gender Gaps Widen

By JOHN TIERNEY

Correction Appended

When men and women take personality tests, some of the old Mars-Venus stereotypes keep reappearing. On average, women are more cooperative, nurturing, cautious and emotionally responsive. Men tend to be more competitive, assertive, reckless and emotionally flat. Clear differences appear in early childhood and never disappear.

What’s not clear is the origin of these differences. Evolutionary psychologists contend that these are innate traits inherited from ancient hunters and gatherers. Another school of psychologists asserts that both sexes’ personalities have been shaped by traditional social roles, and that personality differences will shrink as women spend less time nurturing children and more time in jobs outside the home.

To test these hypotheses, a series of research teams have repeatedly analyzed personality tests taken by men and women in more than 60 countries around the world. For evolutionary psychologists, the bad news is that the size of the gender gap in personality varies among cultures. For social-role psychologists, the bad news is that the variation is going in the wrong direction. It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India’s or Zimbabwe’s than in the Netherlands or the United States. A husband and a stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France. The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge.

These findings are so counterintuitive that some researchers have argued they must be because of cross-cultural problems with the personality tests. But after crunching new data from 40,000 men and women on six continents, David P. Schmitt and his colleagues conclude that the trends are real. Dr. Schmitt, a psychologist at Bradley University in Illinois and the director of the International Sexuality Description Project, suggests that as wealthy modern societies level external barriers between women and men, some ancient internal differences are being revived.

The biggest changes recorded by the researchers involve the personalities of men, not women. Men in traditional agricultural societies and poorer countries seem more cautious and anxious, less assertive and less competitive than men in the most progressive and rich countries of Europe and North America.

To explain these differences, Dr. Schmitt and his collaborators from Austria and Estonia point to the hardships of life in poorer countries. They note that in some other species, environmental stress tends to disproportionately affect the larger sex and mute costly secondary sexual characteristics (like male birds’ displays of plumage). And, they say, there are examples of stress muting biological sex differences in humans. For instance, the average disparity in height between men and women isn’t as pronounced in poor countries as it is in rich countries, because boys’ growth is disproportionately stunted by stresses like malnutrition and disease.

Personality is more complicated than height, of course, and Dr. Schmitt suggests it’s affected by not just the physical but also the social stresses in traditional agricultural societies. These villagers have had to adapt their personalities to rules, hierarchies and gender roles more constraining than those in modern Western countries — or in clans of hunter-gatherers.

“Humanity’s jaunt into monotheism, agriculturally based economies and the monopolization of power and resources by a few men was ‘unnatural’ in many ways,” Dr. Schmitt says, alluding to evidence that hunter-gatherers were relatively egalitarian. “In some ways modern progressive cultures are returning us psychologically to our hunter-gatherer roots,” he argues. “That means high sociopolitical gender equality over all, but with men and women expressing predisposed interests in different domains. Removing the stresses of traditional agricultural societies could allow men’s, and to a lesser extent women’s, more ‘natural’ personality traits to emerge.”

Some critics of this hypothesis question whether the international variations in personality have more to do with the way people in different cultures interpret questions on personality tests. (For more on this debate, go to http://www.nytimes.com/tierneylab.) The critics would like to see more direct measures of personality traits, and so would Dr. Schmitt. But he notes that there’s already an intriguing trend reported for one trait — competitiveness — based on direct measures of male and female runners.

Competitive running makes a good case study because, to mix athletic metaphors, it has offered a level playing field to women the past two decades in the United States. Similar numbers of males and females run on high school and college teams and in road races. Female runners have been competing for equal shares of prize money and receiving nearly 50 percent more scholarship aid from Division I colleges than their male counterparts, according to the N.C.A.A.

But these social changes have not shrunk a gender gap among runners analyzed by Robert Deaner, a psychologist at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, who classifies runners as relatively fast if they keep close to the pace of the world’s best runners of their own sex. When Dr. Deaner looks at, say, the top 40 finishers of each sex in a race, he typically finds two to four times as many relatively fast male runners as relatively fast female runners.

This large gender gap has persisted for two decades in all kinds of races — high school and college meets, elite and nonelite road races — and it jibes with other studies reporting that male runners train harder and are more motivated by competition, Dr. Deaner says. This enduring “sex difference in competitiveness,” he concludes, “must be considered a genuine failure for the sociocultural conditions hypothesis” that the personality gap will shrink as new roles open for women.

If he and Dr. Schmitt are right, then men and women shouldn’t expect to understand each other much better anytime soon. Things could get confusing if the personality gap widens further as the sexes become equal. But then, maybe it was that allure of the mysterious other that kept Mars and Venus together so long on the savanna.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 10, 2008
The Findings column on Tuesday, about gender gaps, misidentified the educational affiliation of Robert Deaner, a psychologist who analyzed competitive runners. He is at Grand Valley State University, in Michigan — not Colgate University, where he received his bachelor’s degree.

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6 Responses to “”

  1. MHC Says:

    You really need to read the excellent thorough book, Myths Of Gender:Biological Theories of Women and Men. by Brown University Biologist and geneticist Dr.Anne Fausto-Sterling. But I'm sure it wouldn't do any good to get through to you and other ignorant people like you.

    Also there is a lot of evidence from sociologists and anthropologists that debunks the claims in the New York Times article and shows are inaccurate. Many anthropologists like Walter Williams author of the award winning,The Spirit and The Flesh,and many other anthropologists have done field work for decades in places like Tahiti and Malaysia, women and men are encouraged to have androgynous roles there and they are not polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles,and they are more alike in their personalities and behaviors.

    And the men there unlike in our very gender divided,gender stereotyped, sexist male dominated society ,aren't punished for being similar to women, they are encouraged and rewarded for it! And it's in the very gender divided, gender stereotyped sexist male dominated societies where the sexes are polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles that makes *more* gender differences!

    There are also a lot of studies by good parent child development psychologists that clearly demonstrate that female and male babies are actually born biologically more alike than different with very few differences,yet they are perceived and treated systematically very differently right from the moment of birth on from parents and other care givers.

    There is also tons of psychological studies from decades showing that most psychological differences between the sexes are very small in most areas and that most large differences are actually individual people differences.

    And there are also plenty of very good academic studies by communication professors and experts that have actually found very small differences in communication between women and men.

    Women and men are actually biologically and psychologically more alike than different and gender is mostly an artificial socially consructed category!

    Our brains are actually more alike than different just as our external genitals are and plenty of research shows that the structure and function of the brain can actually be changed by the interaction with different life long enviornments,different life long experiences,and social and cultural conditioning.
    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage
    Gender Issues

    Men and Women: No Big Difference
    Studies show that one's sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership

    The Truth about Gender "Differences"

    Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. A 2005 analysis of 46 meta-analyses that were conducted during the last two decades of the 20th century underscores that men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership. Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological variables, resulting in what she calls a gender similarities hypothesis. Using meta-analytical techniques that revolutionized the study of gender differences starting in the 1980s, she analyzed how prior research assessed the impact of gender on many psychological traits and abilities, including cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression, leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors.

    Hyde observed that across the dozens of studies, consistent with the gender similarities hypothesis, gender differences had either no or a very small effect on most of the psychological variables examined. Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

    Furthermore, Hyde found that gender differences seem to depend on the context in which they were measured. In studies designed to eliminate gender norms, researchers demonstrated that gender roles and social context strongly determined a person's actions. For example, after participants in one experiment were told that they would not be identified as male or female, nor did they wear any identification, none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive. In fact, they did the opposite of what would be expected – women were more aggressive and men were more passive.

    Finally, Hyde's 2005 report looked into the developmental course of possible gender differences – how any apparent gap may open or close over time. The analysis presented evidence that gender differences fluctuate with age, growing smaller or larger at different times in the life span. This fluctuation indicates again that any differences are not stable.

    Learning Gender-Difference Myths

    Media depictions of men and women as fundamentally “different” appear to perpetuate misconceptions – despite the lack of evidence. The resulting “urban legends” of gender difference can affect men and women at work and at home, as parents and as partners. As an example, workplace studies show that women who go against the caring, nurturing feminine stereotype may pay dearly for it when being hired or evaluated. And when it comes to personal relationships, best-selling books and popular magazines often claim that women and men don't get along because they communicate too differently. Hyde suggests instead that men and women stop talking prematurely because they have been led to believe that they can't change supposedly “innate” sex-based traits.

    Hyde has observed that children also suffer the consequences of exaggerated claims of gender difference — for example, the widespread belief that boys are better than girls in math. However, according to her meta-analysis, boys and girls perform equally well in math until high school, at which point boys do gain a small advantage. That may not reflect biology as much as social expectations, many psychologists believe. For example, the original Teen Talk Barbie ™, before she was pulled from the market after consumer protest, said, “Math class is tough.”

    As a result of stereotyped thinking, mathematically talented elementary-school girls may be overlooked by parents who have lower expectations for a daughter's success in math. Hyde cites prior research showing that parents' expectations of their children's success in math relate strongly to the children's self-confidence and performance.

    Moving Past Myth

    Hyde and her colleagues hope that people use the consistent evidence that males and females are basically alike to alleviate misunderstanding and correct unequal treatment. Hyde is far from alone in her observation that the clear misrepresentation of sex differences, given the lack of evidence, harms men and women of all ages. In a September 2005 press release on her research issued by the American Psychological Association (APA), she said, “The claims [of gender difference] can hurt women's opportunities in the workplace, dissuade couples from trying to resolve conflict and communication problems and cause unnecessary obstacles that hurt children and adolescents' self-esteem.”

    Psychologist Diane Halpern, PhD, a professor at Claremont College and past-president (2005) of the American Psychological Association, points out that even where there are patterns of cognitive differences between males and females, “differences are not deficiencies.” She continues, “Even when differences are found, we cannot conclude that they are immutable because the continuous interplay of biological and environmental influences can change the size and direction of the effects some time in the future.”

    The differences that are supported by the evidence cause concern, she believes, because they are sometimes used to support prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory actions against girls and women. She suggests that anyone reading about gender differences consider whether the size of the differences are large enough to be meaningful, recognize that biological and environmental variables interact and influence one other, and remember that the conclusions that we accept today could change in the future.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291-322.

    Barnett, R. & Rivers, C. (2004). Same difference: How gender myths are hurting our relationships, our children, and our jobs. New York: Basic Books.

    Eaton, W. O., & Enns, L. R. (1986). Sex differences in human motor activity level. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 19-28.

    Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 429-456.

    Halpern, D. F. (2000). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (3rd Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Associates, Inc. Publishers.

    Halpern, D. F. (2004). A cognitive-process taxonomy for sex differences in cognitive abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (4), 135-139.

    Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J. S. (2005). The Gender Similarities Hypothesis. American Psychologist, Vol. 60, No. 6.

    Leaper, C. & Smith, T. E. (2004). A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children's language use: Talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology, 40, 993-1027.

    Oliver, M. B. & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29-51.

    Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M. & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. P., (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250-270.

    American Psychological Association, October 20, 2005

    For more on GENDER ISSUES, click here.

    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage

    Gender Issues

    Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
    Research debunks myths about cognitive difference

    What the Research Shows

    Are boys better at math? Are girls better at language? If fewer women than men work as scientists and engineers, is that aptitude or culture? Psychologists have gathered solid evidence that boys and girls or men and women differ in very few significant ways — differences that would matter in school or at work — in how, and how well, they think.

    At the University of Wisconsin, Janet Shibley Hyde has compiled meta-analytical studies on this topic for more than 10 years. By using this approach, which aggregates research findings from many studies, Hyde has boiled down hundreds of inquiries into one simple conclusion: The sexes are more the same than they are different.

    In a 2005 report, Hyde compiled meta-analyses on sex differences not only in cognition but also communication style, social or personality variables, motor behaviors and moral reasoning. In half the studies, sex differences were small; in another third they were almost non-existent. Thus, 78 percent of gender differences are small or close to zero. What's more, most of the analyses addressed differences that were presumed to be reliable, as in math or verbal ability.

    At the end of 2005, Harvard University's Elizabeth Spelke reviewed 111 studies and papers and found that most suggest that men's and women's abilities for math and science have a genetic basis in cognitive systems that emerge in early childhood but give men and women on the whole equal aptitude for math and science. In fact, boy and girl infants were found to perform equally well as young as six months on tasks such as addition and subtraction (babies can do this, but not with pencil and paper!).

    The evidence has piled up for years. In 1990, Hyde and her colleagues published a groundbreaking meta-analysis of 100 studies of math performance. Synthesizing data collected on more than three million participants between 1967 and 1987, researchers found no large, overall differences between boys and girls in math performance. Girls were slightly better at computation in elementary and middle school; in high school only, boys showed a slight edge in problem solving, perhaps because they took more science, which stresses problem solving. Boys and girls understood math concepts equally well and any gender differences narrowed over the years, belying the notion of a fixed or biological differentiating factor.

    As for verbal ability, in 1988, Hyde and two colleagues reported that data from 165 studies revealed a female superiority so slight as to be meaningless, despite previous assertions that “girls are better verbally.” What's more, the authors found no evidence of substantial gender differences in any component of verbal processing. There were even no changes with age.

    What the Research Means

    The research shows not that males and females are – cognitively speaking — separate but equal, but rather suggests that social and cultural factors influence perceived or actual performance differences. For example, in 1990, Hyde et al. concluded that there is little support for saying boys are better at math, instead revealing complex patterns in math performance that defy easy generalization. The researchers said that to explain why fewer women take college-level math courses and work in math-related occupations, “We must look to other factors, such as internalized belief systems about mathematics, external factors such as sex discrimination in education and in employment, and the mathematics curriculum at the precollege level.”

    Where the sexes have differed on tests, researchers believe social context plays a role. Spelke believes that later-developing differences in career choices are due not to differing abilities but rather cultural factors, such as subtle but pervasive gender expectations that really kick in during high school and college.

    In a 1999 study, Steven Spencer and colleagues reported that merely telling women that a math test usually shows gender differences hurt their performance. This phenomenon of “stereotype threat” occurs when people believe they will be evaluated based on societal stereotypes about their particular group. In the study, the researchers gave a math test to men and women after telling half the women that the test had shown gender differences, and telling the rest that it found none. Women who expected gender differences did significantly worse than men. Those who were told there was no gender disparity performed equally to men. What's more, the experiment was conducted with women who were top performers in math.

    Because “stereotype threat” affected women even when the researchers said the test showed no gender differences – still flagging the possibility — Spencer et al. believe that people may be sensitized even when a stereotype is mentioned in a benign context.

    How We Use the Research

    If males and females are truly understood to be very much the same, things might change in schools, colleges and universities, industry and the workplace in general. As Hyde and her colleagues noted in 1990, “Where gender differences do exist, they are in critical areas. Problem solving is critical for success in many mathematics-related fields, such as engineering and physics.” They believe that well before high school, children should be taught essential problem-solving skills in conjunction with computation. They also refer to boys having more access to problem-solving experiences outside math class. The researchers also point to the quantitative portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which may tap problem-solving skills that favor boys; resulting scores are used in college admissions and scholarship decisions. Hyde is concerned about the costs of scientifically unsound gender stereotyping to individuals and to society as a whole.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53-69.

    Hyde, J.S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J.S. (2005) The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592.

    Spelke, Elizabeth S. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: A critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950-958.

    Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M., & Quinn, D.M. (1999) Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    American Psychological Association, January 18, 2006

    Learn more about EDUCATION, TESTING AND ASSESSMENT or GENDER ISSUES
    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    National News

    Three New Studies Question Boys, Girls Differences – New Purity Balls Show Stereotypes Still Alive & Well
    Date: 4-Aug-2008

    WASHINGTON — A new study by two psychologists found that boys, told they could play with any toy they wanted, chose "girl" toys nearly half the time, about as often as they chose "boy" toys. The key to the study was that the boys were left alone in a room, and also told that no one – including their parents – would find out

    Another study by the same psychologists published in the journal Sex Roles shows that girls tend to make less stereotypic choices as they age. Girls chose more neutral sports, computer games and toys. However, their television viewing in the "tween" years tended strongly toward shows seen as more traditionally feminine.

    Meanwhile, a new study of 7 million high school students published in Science magazine found no difference between boys and girls, now that both sexes are enrolling equally in advanced courses.

    Study co-author Janet Hyde, of the University of Wisconsin, noted that widely held stereotypes that math isn't for girls means parent and teachers still steer them away from specific courses and careers involving math. "I still hear anecdotes about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math," said Hyde.

    Taken together, all three new studies are consistent with the Gender Similarities Hypothesis and Social-Role Theory. The former holds that boys and girls are basically psychologically similar, while the latter holds that most behavioral differences between boys and girls result from each trying to fulfill the behaviors, choices, and aptitudes that are expected of them.
    "I still hear about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math."

    The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms and communities are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed — whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity. To learn more, visit http://www.gpac.org

    Another fact, is that John Gray author of the Mars & Venus sexist,gender stereotyped,woman hating,damaging garbage and myths, got his "Ph.D" in psychology from Columbia Pacific University and what the California Attorney General closed down in 2001 because he said it was a diploma mill and phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

    Sex,Lies and Stereotypes: Challenging Views of Women, Men, and Relationships (Paperback)
    by Dr.Gary W. Wood (Author)

    Product details
    Paperback: 176 pages
    Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd (1 Mar 2005)
    Language English
    ISBN-10: 1843308940
    ISBN-13: 978-1843308942
    Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 1.6 cm
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    Product Description

    Book Description

    Many people, even today, find it difficult to interact with a baby unless they spy the tell-tale signs of 'pink for a girl' and 'blue for a boy'. This labelling (our gender) sets up a lifelong chain of expectations in terms of roles and relationships.
    'Sex, Lies and Stereotypes' explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He argues that pop psychology over-emphasizes differences between the sexes, whilst underplaying the similarities. Furthermore he concludes that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy. Rigid gender roles mean that we only get to live half of the human experience. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that at the very least there are grey areas in most people's gender identities. At best, we could embrace a whole spectrum!
    of possibility if you let go of our limiting beliefs.

    * Includes quizzes and exercises to help discover your views of men and women, and to help reframe relationships in a more cooperative light

    * Advice on improving communication skills

    Synopsis
    Sex, Lies and Stereotypes explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He suggests that pop psychology focuses too much on the differences between the sexes, and argues that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy, as aspects of femininity can spill over into males, and vice versa. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that there are grey areas in most people's gender identities.

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    Customer Reviews
    6 Reviews
    5 star: (6)

    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
    a fairground ride, 10 Mar 2005
    By c hughes – See all my reviews

    Fast moving and colourful, Sex, Lies and Stereotypes by Dr Gary Wood is a slim volume that could be read in a week-end, but you won't want to read it that quickly; you'll want to digest and discuss with friends and lovers some of the eclectic ideas and evidence presented before reading on, maybe even compare scores on some of the quizzes designed to reflect back attitudes on sex and gender to the reader.
    The book is an intelligent response to the kind of books (typified by the different planet mentality) that perpetuate the myth that what divides men and women is more important than what unites us as human beings; an example of what he refers to as binary thinking. The last chapter is wonderfully titled, "Men are from earth and women are from earth, get over it."!!!
    The book draws together research and ideas from a broad spectrum that includes the classics, anthropology, biology and psychology, but the tone is conversational, witty and openly persuasive. Dr Wood has a knack of making facts funny and memorable. I will always think of Procrustes now as "a kind of Greek Basil Fawlty".
    Ultimately, this book is a plea that we embrace and celebrate the notion of complexity in our relationships; that we move beyond a polarising and adversarial stance, in favour of seeking win/win solutions for our own health as well as for the good of others. He concludes with advice on how we might go about improving our communications with others. I found the book highly enjoyable, thought provoking and useful and ultimately reassuring. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
    Like atlas shrugging, 18 Jan 2006
    By Gabriel (UK. London) – See all my reviews

    Deceptive little book that combines fun, poetry, quizzes, academic evidence. Very thought provoking and covers a whole range of topics in its journey to challenge gender stereotypes. Some passages of prose and the most beautiful I've ever read in self-help books, especially the 'Declaration of Inter-dependence'. Enormously optimistic and inspiring. A perfect anti-dote to the usual 'battle of the sexes' stuff. A must read. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
    Cooperation not sabotage.,

    19 April 2008
    By K. T. Blaydon – See all my reviews

    Having got the author's excellent 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . .Swim Out To Meet It', suitably impressed, I was intrigued by this, now quite rare, book. Quite simply, it is a breathtaking tour of gender myths. It focuses on our profound similarites rather than surface differences and offers a model of relationships based on cooperation rather than competition. Dr Gary Wood's parody of the Mars and venus mythology is hilarious and exposes the nonsense of the 'different planet' approach. Hopefully it won't be too long before this is back in print.

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  2. MHC Says:

    You really need to read the excellent thorough book, Myths Of Gender:Biological Theories of Women and Men. by Brown University Biologist and geneticist Dr.Anne Fausto-Sterling. But I'm sure it wouldn't do any good to get through to you and other ignorant people like you.

    Also there is a lot of evidence from sociologists and anthropologists that debunks the claims in the New York Times article and shows are inaccurate. Many anthropologists like Walter Williams author of the award winning,The Spirit and The Flesh,and many other anthropologists have done field work for decades in places like Tahiti and Malaysia, women and men are encouraged to have androgynous roles there and they are not polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles,and they are more alike in their personalities and behaviors.

    And the men there unlike in our very gender divided,gender stereotyped, sexist male dominated society ,aren't punished for being similar to women, they are encouraged and rewarded for it! And it's in the very gender divided, gender stereotyped sexist male dominated societies where the sexes are polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles that makes *more* gender differences!

    There are also a lot of studies by good parent child development psychologists that clearly demonstrate that female and male babies are actually born biologically more alike than different with very few differences,yet they are perceived and treated systematically very differently right from the moment of birth on from parents and other care givers.

    There is also tons of psychological studies from decades showing that most psychological differences between the sexes are very small in most areas and that most large differences are actually individual people differences.

    And there are also plenty of very good academic studies by communication professors and experts that have actually found very small differences in communication between women and men.

    Women and men are actually biologically and psychologically more alike than different and gender is mostly an artificial socially consructed category!

    Our brains are actually more alike than different just as our external genitals are and plenty of research shows that the structure and function of the brain can actually be changed by the interaction with different life long enviornments,different life long experiences,and social and cultural conditioning.
    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage
    Gender Issues

    Men and Women: No Big Difference
    Studies show that one's sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership

    The Truth about Gender "Differences"

    Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. A 2005 analysis of 46 meta-analyses that were conducted during the last two decades of the 20th century underscores that men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership. Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological variables, resulting in what she calls a gender similarities hypothesis. Using meta-analytical techniques that revolutionized the study of gender differences starting in the 1980s, she analyzed how prior research assessed the impact of gender on many psychological traits and abilities, including cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression, leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors.

    Hyde observed that across the dozens of studies, consistent with the gender similarities hypothesis, gender differences had either no or a very small effect on most of the psychological variables examined. Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

    Furthermore, Hyde found that gender differences seem to depend on the context in which they were measured. In studies designed to eliminate gender norms, researchers demonstrated that gender roles and social context strongly determined a person's actions. For example, after participants in one experiment were told that they would not be identified as male or female, nor did they wear any identification, none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive. In fact, they did the opposite of what would be expected – women were more aggressive and men were more passive.

    Finally, Hyde's 2005 report looked into the developmental course of possible gender differences – how any apparent gap may open or close over time. The analysis presented evidence that gender differences fluctuate with age, growing smaller or larger at different times in the life span. This fluctuation indicates again that any differences are not stable.

    Learning Gender-Difference Myths

    Media depictions of men and women as fundamentally “different” appear to perpetuate misconceptions – despite the lack of evidence. The resulting “urban legends” of gender difference can affect men and women at work and at home, as parents and as partners. As an example, workplace studies show that women who go against the caring, nurturing feminine stereotype may pay dearly for it when being hired or evaluated. And when it comes to personal relationships, best-selling books and popular magazines often claim that women and men don't get along because they communicate too differently. Hyde suggests instead that men and women stop talking prematurely because they have been led to believe that they can't change supposedly “innate” sex-based traits.

    Hyde has observed that children also suffer the consequences of exaggerated claims of gender difference — for example, the widespread belief that boys are better than girls in math. However, according to her meta-analysis, boys and girls perform equally well in math until high school, at which point boys do gain a small advantage. That may not reflect biology as much as social expectations, many psychologists believe. For example, the original Teen Talk Barbie ™, before she was pulled from the market after consumer protest, said, “Math class is tough.”

    As a result of stereotyped thinking, mathematically talented elementary-school girls may be overlooked by parents who have lower expectations for a daughter's success in math. Hyde cites prior research showing that parents' expectations of their children's success in math relate strongly to the children's self-confidence and performance.

    Moving Past Myth

    Hyde and her colleagues hope that people use the consistent evidence that males and females are basically alike to alleviate misunderstanding and correct unequal treatment. Hyde is far from alone in her observation that the clear misrepresentation of sex differences, given the lack of evidence, harms men and women of all ages. In a September 2005 press release on her research issued by the American Psychological Association (APA), she said, “The claims [of gender difference] can hurt women's opportunities in the workplace, dissuade couples from trying to resolve conflict and communication problems and cause unnecessary obstacles that hurt children and adolescents' self-esteem.”

    Psychologist Diane Halpern, PhD, a professor at Claremont College and past-president (2005) of the American Psychological Association, points out that even where there are patterns of cognitive differences between males and females, “differences are not deficiencies.” She continues, “Even when differences are found, we cannot conclude that they are immutable because the continuous interplay of biological and environmental influences can change the size and direction of the effects some time in the future.”

    The differences that are supported by the evidence cause concern, she believes, because they are sometimes used to support prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory actions against girls and women. She suggests that anyone reading about gender differences consider whether the size of the differences are large enough to be meaningful, recognize that biological and environmental variables interact and influence one other, and remember that the conclusions that we accept today could change in the future.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291-322.

    Barnett, R. & Rivers, C. (2004). Same difference: How gender myths are hurting our relationships, our children, and our jobs. New York: Basic Books.

    Eaton, W. O., & Enns, L. R. (1986). Sex differences in human motor activity level. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 19-28.

    Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 429-456.

    Halpern, D. F. (2000). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (3rd Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Associates, Inc. Publishers.

    Halpern, D. F. (2004). A cognitive-process taxonomy for sex differences in cognitive abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (4), 135-139.

    Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J. S. (2005). The Gender Similarities Hypothesis. American Psychologist, Vol. 60, No. 6.

    Leaper, C. & Smith, T. E. (2004). A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children's language use: Talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology, 40, 993-1027.

    Oliver, M. B. & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29-51.

    Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M. & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. P., (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250-270.

    American Psychological Association, October 20, 2005

    For more on GENDER ISSUES, click here.

    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage

    Gender Issues

    Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
    Research debunks myths about cognitive difference

    What the Research Shows

    Are boys better at math? Are girls better at language? If fewer women than men work as scientists and engineers, is that aptitude or culture? Psychologists have gathered solid evidence that boys and girls or men and women differ in very few significant ways — differences that would matter in school or at work — in how, and how well, they think.

    At the University of Wisconsin, Janet Shibley Hyde has compiled meta-analytical studies on this topic for more than 10 years. By using this approach, which aggregates research findings from many studies, Hyde has boiled down hundreds of inquiries into one simple conclusion: The sexes are more the same than they are different.

    In a 2005 report, Hyde compiled meta-analyses on sex differences not only in cognition but also communication style, social or personality variables, motor behaviors and moral reasoning. In half the studies, sex differences were small; in another third they were almost non-existent. Thus, 78 percent of gender differences are small or close to zero. What's more, most of the analyses addressed differences that were presumed to be reliable, as in math or verbal ability.

    At the end of 2005, Harvard University's Elizabeth Spelke reviewed 111 studies and papers and found that most suggest that men's and women's abilities for math and science have a genetic basis in cognitive systems that emerge in early childhood but give men and women on the whole equal aptitude for math and science. In fact, boy and girl infants were found to perform equally well as young as six months on tasks such as addition and subtraction (babies can do this, but not with pencil and paper!).

    The evidence has piled up for years. In 1990, Hyde and her colleagues published a groundbreaking meta-analysis of 100 studies of math performance. Synthesizing data collected on more than three million participants between 1967 and 1987, researchers found no large, overall differences between boys and girls in math performance. Girls were slightly better at computation in elementary and middle school; in high school only, boys showed a slight edge in problem solving, perhaps because they took more science, which stresses problem solving. Boys and girls understood math concepts equally well and any gender differences narrowed over the years, belying the notion of a fixed or biological differentiating factor.

    As for verbal ability, in 1988, Hyde and two colleagues reported that data from 165 studies revealed a female superiority so slight as to be meaningless, despite previous assertions that “girls are better verbally.” What's more, the authors found no evidence of substantial gender differences in any component of verbal processing. There were even no changes with age.

    What the Research Means

    The research shows not that males and females are – cognitively speaking — separate but equal, but rather suggests that social and cultural factors influence perceived or actual performance differences. For example, in 1990, Hyde et al. concluded that there is little support for saying boys are better at math, instead revealing complex patterns in math performance that defy easy generalization. The researchers said that to explain why fewer women take college-level math courses and work in math-related occupations, “We must look to other factors, such as internalized belief systems about mathematics, external factors such as sex discrimination in education and in employment, and the mathematics curriculum at the precollege level.”

    Where the sexes have differed on tests, researchers believe social context plays a role. Spelke believes that later-developing differences in career choices are due not to differing abilities but rather cultural factors, such as subtle but pervasive gender expectations that really kick in during high school and college.

    In a 1999 study, Steven Spencer and colleagues reported that merely telling women that a math test usually shows gender differences hurt their performance. This phenomenon of “stereotype threat” occurs when people believe they will be evaluated based on societal stereotypes about their particular group. In the study, the researchers gave a math test to men and women after telling half the women that the test had shown gender differences, and telling the rest that it found none. Women who expected gender differences did significantly worse than men. Those who were told there was no gender disparity performed equally to men. What's more, the experiment was conducted with women who were top performers in math.

    Because “stereotype threat” affected women even when the researchers said the test showed no gender differences – still flagging the possibility — Spencer et al. believe that people may be sensitized even when a stereotype is mentioned in a benign context.

    How We Use the Research

    If males and females are truly understood to be very much the same, things might change in schools, colleges and universities, industry and the workplace in general. As Hyde and her colleagues noted in 1990, “Where gender differences do exist, they are in critical areas. Problem solving is critical for success in many mathematics-related fields, such as engineering and physics.” They believe that well before high school, children should be taught essential problem-solving skills in conjunction with computation. They also refer to boys having more access to problem-solving experiences outside math class. The researchers also point to the quantitative portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which may tap problem-solving skills that favor boys; resulting scores are used in college admissions and scholarship decisions. Hyde is concerned about the costs of scientifically unsound gender stereotyping to individuals and to society as a whole.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53-69.

    Hyde, J.S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J.S. (2005) The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592.

    Spelke, Elizabeth S. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: A critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950-958.

    Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M., & Quinn, D.M. (1999) Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    American Psychological Association, January 18, 2006

    Learn more about EDUCATION, TESTING AND ASSESSMENT or GENDER ISSUES
    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    National News

    Three New Studies Question Boys, Girls Differences – New Purity Balls Show Stereotypes Still Alive & Well
    Date: 4-Aug-2008

    WASHINGTON — A new study by two psychologists found that boys, told they could play with any toy they wanted, chose "girl" toys nearly half the time, about as often as they chose "boy" toys. The key to the study was that the boys were left alone in a room, and also told that no one – including their parents – would find out

    Another study by the same psychologists published in the journal Sex Roles shows that girls tend to make less stereotypic choices as they age. Girls chose more neutral sports, computer games and toys. However, their television viewing in the "tween" years tended strongly toward shows seen as more traditionally feminine.

    Meanwhile, a new study of 7 million high school students published in Science magazine found no difference between boys and girls, now that both sexes are enrolling equally in advanced courses.

    Study co-author Janet Hyde, of the University of Wisconsin, noted that widely held stereotypes that math isn't for girls means parent and teachers still steer them away from specific courses and careers involving math. "I still hear anecdotes about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math," said Hyde.

    Taken together, all three new studies are consistent with the Gender Similarities Hypothesis and Social-Role Theory. The former holds that boys and girls are basically psychologically similar, while the latter holds that most behavioral differences between boys and girls result from each trying to fulfill the behaviors, choices, and aptitudes that are expected of them.
    "I still hear about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math."

    The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms and communities are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed — whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity. To learn more, visit http://www.gpac.org

    Another fact, is that John Gray author of the Mars & Venus sexist,gender stereotyped,woman hating,damaging garbage and myths, got his "Ph.D" in psychology from Columbia Pacific University and what the California Attorney General closed down in 2001 because he said it was a diploma mill and phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

    Sex,Lies and Stereotypes: Challenging Views of Women, Men, and Relationships (Paperback)
    by Dr.Gary W. Wood (Author)

    Product details
    Paperback: 176 pages
    Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd (1 Mar 2005)
    Language English
    ISBN-10: 1843308940
    ISBN-13: 978-1843308942
    Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 1.6 cm
    Average Customer Review

    See Complete Table of Contents

    Product Description

    Book Description

    Many people, even today, find it difficult to interact with a baby unless they spy the tell-tale signs of 'pink for a girl' and 'blue for a boy'. This labelling (our gender) sets up a lifelong chain of expectations in terms of roles and relationships.
    'Sex, Lies and Stereotypes' explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He argues that pop psychology over-emphasizes differences between the sexes, whilst underplaying the similarities. Furthermore he concludes that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy. Rigid gender roles mean that we only get to live half of the human experience. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that at the very least there are grey areas in most people's gender identities. At best, we could embrace a whole spectrum!
    of possibility if you let go of our limiting beliefs.

    * Includes quizzes and exercises to help discover your views of men and women, and to help reframe relationships in a more cooperative light

    * Advice on improving communication skills

    Synopsis
    Sex, Lies and Stereotypes explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He suggests that pop psychology focuses too much on the differences between the sexes, and argues that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy, as aspects of femininity can spill over into males, and vice versa. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that there are grey areas in most people's gender identities.

    See all Product Description

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    Customer Reviews
    6 Reviews
    5 star: (6)

    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
    a fairground ride, 10 Mar 2005
    By c hughes – See all my reviews

    Fast moving and colourful, Sex, Lies and Stereotypes by Dr Gary Wood is a slim volume that could be read in a week-end, but you won't want to read it that quickly; you'll want to digest and discuss with friends and lovers some of the eclectic ideas and evidence presented before reading on, maybe even compare scores on some of the quizzes designed to reflect back attitudes on sex and gender to the reader.
    The book is an intelligent response to the kind of books (typified by the different planet mentality) that perpetuate the myth that what divides men and women is more important than what unites us as human beings; an example of what he refers to as binary thinking. The last chapter is wonderfully titled, "Men are from earth and women are from earth, get over it."!!!
    The book draws together research and ideas from a broad spectrum that includes the classics, anthropology, biology and psychology, but the tone is conversational, witty and openly persuasive. Dr Wood has a knack of making facts funny and memorable. I will always think of Procrustes now as "a kind of Greek Basil Fawlty".
    Ultimately, this book is a plea that we embrace and celebrate the notion of complexity in our relationships; that we move beyond a polarising and adversarial stance, in favour of seeking win/win solutions for our own health as well as for the good of others. He concludes with advice on how we might go about improving our communications with others. I found the book highly enjoyable, thought provoking and useful and ultimately reassuring. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
    Like atlas shrugging, 18 Jan 2006
    By Gabriel (UK. London) – See all my reviews

    Deceptive little book that combines fun, poetry, quizzes, academic evidence. Very thought provoking and covers a whole range of topics in its journey to challenge gender stereotypes. Some passages of prose and the most beautiful I've ever read in self-help books, especially the 'Declaration of Inter-dependence'. Enormously optimistic and inspiring. A perfect anti-dote to the usual 'battle of the sexes' stuff. A must read. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
    Cooperation not sabotage.,

    19 April 2008
    By K. T. Blaydon – See all my reviews

    Having got the author's excellent 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . .Swim Out To Meet It', suitably impressed, I was intrigued by this, now quite rare, book. Quite simply, it is a breathtaking tour of gender myths. It focuses on our profound similarites rather than surface differences and offers a model of relationships based on cooperation rather than competition. Dr Gary Wood's parody of the Mars and venus mythology is hilarious and exposes the nonsense of the 'different planet' approach. Hopefully it won't be too long before this is back in print.

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    Gender Myth Buster
    Really busts all of the gender myths that endlessly do the rounds. Discovered this after reading the author's personal development book 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In… Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Nick Green

    Great Accurate Debunking Of Mars & Venus Myths!
    I ordered this great helpful book last year and Dr.Gary Wood as a social psychologist who specializes in relationships,and has a lot of research studies and experience to debunk… Read more
    Published on 24 Mar 2006 by fab4

    Star dust not star wars
    Great to find a relationship book that actually has something new to say and indeed challenge some of the well worn paths that books usually cover. Read more
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  3. MHC Says:

    You really need to read the excellent thorough book, Myths Of Gender:Biological Theories of Women and Men. by Brown University Biologist and geneticist Dr.Anne Fausto-Sterling. But I'm sure it wouldn't do any good to get through to you and other ignorant people like you.

    Also there is a lot of evidence from sociologists and anthropologists that debunks the claims in the New York Times article and shows are inaccurate. Many anthropologists like Walter Williams author of the award winning,The Spirit and The Flesh,and many other anthropologists have done field work for decades in places like Tahiti and Malaysia, women and men are encouraged to have androgynous roles there and they are not polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles,and they are more alike in their personalities and behaviors.

    And the men there unlike in our very gender divided,gender stereotyped, sexist male dominated society ,aren't punished for being similar to women, they are encouraged and rewarded for it! And it's in the very gender divided, gender stereotyped sexist male dominated societies where the sexes are polarized into "opposite" categories and gender roles that makes *more* gender differences!

    There are also a lot of studies by good parent child development psychologists that clearly demonstrate that female and male babies are actually born biologically more alike than different with very few differences,yet they are perceived and treated systematically very differently right from the moment of birth on from parents and other care givers.

    There is also tons of psychological studies from decades showing that most psychological differences between the sexes are very small in most areas and that most large differences are actually individual people differences.

    And there are also plenty of very good academic studies by communication professors and experts that have actually found very small differences in communication between women and men.

    Women and men are actually biologically and psychologically more alike than different and gender is mostly an artificial socially consructed category!

    Our brains are actually more alike than different just as our external genitals are and plenty of research shows that the structure and function of the brain can actually be changed by the interaction with different life long enviornments,different life long experiences,and social and cultural conditioning.
    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage
    Gender Issues

    Men and Women: No Big Difference
    Studies show that one's sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership

    The Truth about Gender "Differences"

    Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. A 2005 analysis of 46 meta-analyses that were conducted during the last two decades of the 20th century underscores that men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership. Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological variables, resulting in what she calls a gender similarities hypothesis. Using meta-analytical techniques that revolutionized the study of gender differences starting in the 1980s, she analyzed how prior research assessed the impact of gender on many psychological traits and abilities, including cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression, leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors.

    Hyde observed that across the dozens of studies, consistent with the gender similarities hypothesis, gender differences had either no or a very small effect on most of the psychological variables examined. Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

    Furthermore, Hyde found that gender differences seem to depend on the context in which they were measured. In studies designed to eliminate gender norms, researchers demonstrated that gender roles and social context strongly determined a person's actions. For example, after participants in one experiment were told that they would not be identified as male or female, nor did they wear any identification, none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive. In fact, they did the opposite of what would be expected – women were more aggressive and men were more passive.

    Finally, Hyde's 2005 report looked into the developmental course of possible gender differences – how any apparent gap may open or close over time. The analysis presented evidence that gender differences fluctuate with age, growing smaller or larger at different times in the life span. This fluctuation indicates again that any differences are not stable.

    Learning Gender-Difference Myths

    Media depictions of men and women as fundamentally “different” appear to perpetuate misconceptions – despite the lack of evidence. The resulting “urban legends” of gender difference can affect men and women at work and at home, as parents and as partners. As an example, workplace studies show that women who go against the caring, nurturing feminine stereotype may pay dearly for it when being hired or evaluated. And when it comes to personal relationships, best-selling books and popular magazines often claim that women and men don't get along because they communicate too differently. Hyde suggests instead that men and women stop talking prematurely because they have been led to believe that they can't change supposedly “innate” sex-based traits.

    Hyde has observed that children also suffer the consequences of exaggerated claims of gender difference — for example, the widespread belief that boys are better than girls in math. However, according to her meta-analysis, boys and girls perform equally well in math until high school, at which point boys do gain a small advantage. That may not reflect biology as much as social expectations, many psychologists believe. For example, the original Teen Talk Barbie ™, before she was pulled from the market after consumer protest, said, “Math class is tough.”

    As a result of stereotyped thinking, mathematically talented elementary-school girls may be overlooked by parents who have lower expectations for a daughter's success in math. Hyde cites prior research showing that parents' expectations of their children's success in math relate strongly to the children's self-confidence and performance.

    Moving Past Myth

    Hyde and her colleagues hope that people use the consistent evidence that males and females are basically alike to alleviate misunderstanding and correct unequal treatment. Hyde is far from alone in her observation that the clear misrepresentation of sex differences, given the lack of evidence, harms men and women of all ages. In a September 2005 press release on her research issued by the American Psychological Association (APA), she said, “The claims [of gender difference] can hurt women's opportunities in the workplace, dissuade couples from trying to resolve conflict and communication problems and cause unnecessary obstacles that hurt children and adolescents' self-esteem.”

    Psychologist Diane Halpern, PhD, a professor at Claremont College and past-president (2005) of the American Psychological Association, points out that even where there are patterns of cognitive differences between males and females, “differences are not deficiencies.” She continues, “Even when differences are found, we cannot conclude that they are immutable because the continuous interplay of biological and environmental influences can change the size and direction of the effects some time in the future.”

    The differences that are supported by the evidence cause concern, she believes, because they are sometimes used to support prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory actions against girls and women. She suggests that anyone reading about gender differences consider whether the size of the differences are large enough to be meaningful, recognize that biological and environmental variables interact and influence one other, and remember that the conclusions that we accept today could change in the future.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291-322.

    Barnett, R. & Rivers, C. (2004). Same difference: How gender myths are hurting our relationships, our children, and our jobs. New York: Basic Books.

    Eaton, W. O., & Enns, L. R. (1986). Sex differences in human motor activity level. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 19-28.

    Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 429-456.

    Halpern, D. F. (2000). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (3rd Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Associates, Inc. Publishers.

    Halpern, D. F. (2004). A cognitive-process taxonomy for sex differences in cognitive abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (4), 135-139.

    Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J. S. (2005). The Gender Similarities Hypothesis. American Psychologist, Vol. 60, No. 6.

    Leaper, C. & Smith, T. E. (2004). A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children's language use: Talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology, 40, 993-1027.

    Oliver, M. B. & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29-51.

    Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M. & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. P., (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250-270.

    American Psychological Association, October 20, 2005

    For more on GENDER ISSUES, click here.

    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS

    Psychology Matters Homepage

    Gender Issues

    Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
    Research debunks myths about cognitive difference

    What the Research Shows

    Are boys better at math? Are girls better at language? If fewer women than men work as scientists and engineers, is that aptitude or culture? Psychologists have gathered solid evidence that boys and girls or men and women differ in very few significant ways — differences that would matter in school or at work — in how, and how well, they think.

    At the University of Wisconsin, Janet Shibley Hyde has compiled meta-analytical studies on this topic for more than 10 years. By using this approach, which aggregates research findings from many studies, Hyde has boiled down hundreds of inquiries into one simple conclusion: The sexes are more the same than they are different.

    In a 2005 report, Hyde compiled meta-analyses on sex differences not only in cognition but also communication style, social or personality variables, motor behaviors and moral reasoning. In half the studies, sex differences were small; in another third they were almost non-existent. Thus, 78 percent of gender differences are small or close to zero. What's more, most of the analyses addressed differences that were presumed to be reliable, as in math or verbal ability.

    At the end of 2005, Harvard University's Elizabeth Spelke reviewed 111 studies and papers and found that most suggest that men's and women's abilities for math and science have a genetic basis in cognitive systems that emerge in early childhood but give men and women on the whole equal aptitude for math and science. In fact, boy and girl infants were found to perform equally well as young as six months on tasks such as addition and subtraction (babies can do this, but not with pencil and paper!).

    The evidence has piled up for years. In 1990, Hyde and her colleagues published a groundbreaking meta-analysis of 100 studies of math performance. Synthesizing data collected on more than three million participants between 1967 and 1987, researchers found no large, overall differences between boys and girls in math performance. Girls were slightly better at computation in elementary and middle school; in high school only, boys showed a slight edge in problem solving, perhaps because they took more science, which stresses problem solving. Boys and girls understood math concepts equally well and any gender differences narrowed over the years, belying the notion of a fixed or biological differentiating factor.

    As for verbal ability, in 1988, Hyde and two colleagues reported that data from 165 studies revealed a female superiority so slight as to be meaningless, despite previous assertions that “girls are better verbally.” What's more, the authors found no evidence of substantial gender differences in any component of verbal processing. There were even no changes with age.

    What the Research Means

    The research shows not that males and females are – cognitively speaking — separate but equal, but rather suggests that social and cultural factors influence perceived or actual performance differences. For example, in 1990, Hyde et al. concluded that there is little support for saying boys are better at math, instead revealing complex patterns in math performance that defy easy generalization. The researchers said that to explain why fewer women take college-level math courses and work in math-related occupations, “We must look to other factors, such as internalized belief systems about mathematics, external factors such as sex discrimination in education and in employment, and the mathematics curriculum at the precollege level.”

    Where the sexes have differed on tests, researchers believe social context plays a role. Spelke believes that later-developing differences in career choices are due not to differing abilities but rather cultural factors, such as subtle but pervasive gender expectations that really kick in during high school and college.

    In a 1999 study, Steven Spencer and colleagues reported that merely telling women that a math test usually shows gender differences hurt their performance. This phenomenon of “stereotype threat” occurs when people believe they will be evaluated based on societal stereotypes about their particular group. In the study, the researchers gave a math test to men and women after telling half the women that the test had shown gender differences, and telling the rest that it found none. Women who expected gender differences did significantly worse than men. Those who were told there was no gender disparity performed equally to men. What's more, the experiment was conducted with women who were top performers in math.

    Because “stereotype threat” affected women even when the researchers said the test showed no gender differences – still flagging the possibility — Spencer et al. believe that people may be sensitized even when a stereotype is mentioned in a benign context.

    How We Use the Research

    If males and females are truly understood to be very much the same, things might change in schools, colleges and universities, industry and the workplace in general. As Hyde and her colleagues noted in 1990, “Where gender differences do exist, they are in critical areas. Problem solving is critical for success in many mathematics-related fields, such as engineering and physics.” They believe that well before high school, children should be taught essential problem-solving skills in conjunction with computation. They also refer to boys having more access to problem-solving experiences outside math class. The researchers also point to the quantitative portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which may tap problem-solving skills that favor boys; resulting scores are used in college admissions and scholarship decisions. Hyde is concerned about the costs of scientifically unsound gender stereotyping to individuals and to society as a whole.

    Sources & Further Reading

    Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53-69.

    Hyde, J.S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

    Hyde, J.S. (2005) The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592.

    Spelke, Elizabeth S. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: A critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950-958.

    Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M., & Quinn, D.M. (1999) Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

    American Psychological Association, January 18, 2006

    Learn more about EDUCATION, TESTING AND ASSESSMENT or GENDER ISSUES
    Glossary of Psychological Terms

    © 2008 American Psychological Association

    National News

    Three New Studies Question Boys, Girls Differences – New Purity Balls Show Stereotypes Still Alive & Well
    Date: 4-Aug-2008

    WASHINGTON — A new study by two psychologists found that boys, told they could play with any toy they wanted, chose "girl" toys nearly half the time, about as often as they chose "boy" toys. The key to the study was that the boys were left alone in a room, and also told that no one – including their parents – would find out

    Another study by the same psychologists published in the journal Sex Roles shows that girls tend to make less stereotypic choices as they age. Girls chose more neutral sports, computer games and toys. However, their television viewing in the "tween" years tended strongly toward shows seen as more traditionally feminine.

    Meanwhile, a new study of 7 million high school students published in Science magazine found no difference between boys and girls, now that both sexes are enrolling equally in advanced courses.

    Study co-author Janet Hyde, of the University of Wisconsin, noted that widely held stereotypes that math isn't for girls means parent and teachers still steer them away from specific courses and careers involving math. "I still hear anecdotes about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math," said Hyde.

    Taken together, all three new studies are consistent with the Gender Similarities Hypothesis and Social-Role Theory. The former holds that boys and girls are basically psychologically similar, while the latter holds that most behavioral differences between boys and girls result from each trying to fulfill the behaviors, choices, and aptitudes that are expected of them.
    "I still hear about guidance counselors steering girls away from engineering, telling them they won't be able to do the math."

    The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms and communities are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed — whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity. To learn more, visit http://www.gpac.org

    Another fact, is that John Gray author of the Mars & Venus sexist,gender stereotyped,woman hating,damaging garbage and myths, got his "Ph.D" in psychology from Columbia Pacific University and what the California Attorney General closed down in 2001 because he said it was a diploma mill and phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

    Sex,Lies and Stereotypes: Challenging Views of Women, Men, and Relationships (Paperback)
    by Dr.Gary W. Wood (Author)

    Product details
    Paperback: 176 pages
    Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd (1 Mar 2005)
    Language English
    ISBN-10: 1843308940
    ISBN-13: 978-1843308942
    Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 1.6 cm
    Average Customer Review

    See Complete Table of Contents

    Product Description

    Book Description

    Many people, even today, find it difficult to interact with a baby unless they spy the tell-tale signs of 'pink for a girl' and 'blue for a boy'. This labelling (our gender) sets up a lifelong chain of expectations in terms of roles and relationships.
    'Sex, Lies and Stereotypes' explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He argues that pop psychology over-emphasizes differences between the sexes, whilst underplaying the similarities. Furthermore he concludes that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy. Rigid gender roles mean that we only get to live half of the human experience. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that at the very least there are grey areas in most people's gender identities. At best, we could embrace a whole spectrum!
    of possibility if you let go of our limiting beliefs.

    * Includes quizzes and exercises to help discover your views of men and women, and to help reframe relationships in a more cooperative light

    * Advice on improving communication skills

    Synopsis
    Sex, Lies and Stereotypes explores the shifting nature of gender role stereotypes and changing attitudes to sexuality, addressing the myths and the 'black and white' thinking that so many of us adopt in relation to male and female roles. It proposes a new way of perceiving life that could potentially revolutionize the way that we interact as humans. Dr Gary Wood asserts that 'men are from earth and women are from earth; it's high time we got over it.' He suggests that pop psychology focuses too much on the differences between the sexes, and argues that our relationships could be transformed if we viewed individuals for their personalities rather than merely their anatomy, as aspects of femininity can spill over into males, and vice versa. This book challenges us to question our assumptions and accept that there are grey areas in most people's gender identities.

    See all Product Description

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    Customer Reviews
    6 Reviews
    5 star: (6)

    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
    a fairground ride, 10 Mar 2005
    By c hughes – See all my reviews

    Fast moving and colourful, Sex, Lies and Stereotypes by Dr Gary Wood is a slim volume that could be read in a week-end, but you won't want to read it that quickly; you'll want to digest and discuss with friends and lovers some of the eclectic ideas and evidence presented before reading on, maybe even compare scores on some of the quizzes designed to reflect back attitudes on sex and gender to the reader.
    The book is an intelligent response to the kind of books (typified by the different planet mentality) that perpetuate the myth that what divides men and women is more important than what unites us as human beings; an example of what he refers to as binary thinking. The last chapter is wonderfully titled, "Men are from earth and women are from earth, get over it."!!!
    The book draws together research and ideas from a broad spectrum that includes the classics, anthropology, biology and psychology, but the tone is conversational, witty and openly persuasive. Dr Wood has a knack of making facts funny and memorable. I will always think of Procrustes now as "a kind of Greek Basil Fawlty".
    Ultimately, this book is a plea that we embrace and celebrate the notion of complexity in our relationships; that we move beyond a polarising and adversarial stance, in favour of seeking win/win solutions for our own health as well as for the good of others. He concludes with advice on how we might go about improving our communications with others. I found the book highly enjoyable, thought provoking and useful and ultimately reassuring. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
    Like atlas shrugging, 18 Jan 2006
    By Gabriel (UK. London) – See all my reviews

    Deceptive little book that combines fun, poetry, quizzes, academic evidence. Very thought provoking and covers a whole range of topics in its journey to challenge gender stereotypes. Some passages of prose and the most beautiful I've ever read in self-help books, especially the 'Declaration of Inter-dependence'. Enormously optimistic and inspiring. A perfect anti-dote to the usual 'battle of the sexes' stuff. A must read. Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you? (Report this)

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
    Cooperation not sabotage.,

    19 April 2008
    By K. T. Blaydon – See all my reviews

    Having got the author's excellent 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . .Swim Out To Meet It', suitably impressed, I was intrigued by this, now quite rare, book. Quite simply, it is a breathtaking tour of gender myths. It focuses on our profound similarites rather than surface differences and offers a model of relationships based on cooperation rather than competition. Dr Gary Wood's parody of the Mars and venus mythology is hilarious and exposes the nonsense of the 'different planet' approach. Hopefully it won't be too long before this is back in print.

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    Gender Myth Buster
    Really busts all of the gender myths that endlessly do the rounds. Discovered this after reading the author's personal development book 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In… Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Nick Green

    Great Accurate Debunking Of Mars & Venus Myths!
    I ordered this great helpful book last year and Dr.Gary Wood as a social psychologist who specializes in relationships,and has a lot of research studies and experience to debunk… Read more
    Published on 24 Mar 2006 by fab4

    Star dust not star wars
    Great to find a relationship book that actually has something new to say and indeed challenge some of the well worn paths that books usually cover. Read more
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  4. Male Chauvinist Woman Says:

    MHC,

    First, if you comment here again, please trim away extraneous text when you’re cutting and pasting. That’s basic netiquette.

    Second, I have been studying the biological differences between the sexes for over two decades, so I am well aware of the years of attempts to prove that the tremendous differences between the sexes are unreal. It remains wishful thinking. Look at the gap between the performance of professional and Olympic athletes, for example; even the women with the best genes who devote their lives to maximizing their fitness still cannot even begin to compete with men in the same field.

    No amount of “encouraging androgynous behavior” has ever made the slightest dent in the enormous inherent differences between the sexes. The Margaret Mead-inspired fantasies of primitive people living in perfect gender-blind egalitarism are just that: fantasies.

    Besides which, encouraging boys to act like girls is the most destructive thing any society can possibly do. Every society depends absolutely on men being able to behave like men.

    Despite the attempts of the authors you cite to twist science to meet their fantasies, all the hard evidence, as well as all personal observation throughout human history, suggests rather that the differences between men and women are much greater than we have ever realized.

  5. Male Chauvinist Woman Says:

    MHC,

    First, if you comment here again, please trim away extraneous text when you’re cutting and pasting. That’s basic netiquette.

    Second, I have been studying the biological differences between the sexes for over two decades, so I am well aware of the years of attempts to prove that the tremendous differences between the sexes are unreal. It remains wishful thinking. Look at the gap between the performance of professional and Olympic athletes, for example; even the women with the best genes who devote their lives to maximizing their fitness still cannot even begin to compete with men in the same field.

    No amount of “encouraging androgynous behavior” has ever made the slightest dent in the enormous inherent differences between the sexes. The Margaret Mead-inspired fantasies of primitive people living in perfect gender-blind egalitarism are just that: fantasies.

    Besides which, encouraging boys to act like girls is the most destructive thing any society can possibly do. Every society depends absolutely on men being able to behave like men.

    Despite the attempts of the authors you cite to twist science to meet their fantasies, all the hard evidence, as well as all personal observation throughout human history, suggests rather that the differences between men and women are much greater than we have ever realized.

  6. Male Chauvinist Woman Says:

    MHC,

    First, if you comment here again, please trim away extraneous text when you’re cutting and pasting. That’s basic netiquette.

    Second, I have been studying the biological differences between the sexes for over two decades, so I am well aware of the years of attempts to prove that the tremendous differences between the sexes are unreal. It remains wishful thinking. Look at the gap between the performance of professional and Olympic athletes, for example; even the women with the best genes who devote their lives to maximizing their fitness still cannot even begin to compete with men in the same field.

    No amount of “encouraging androgynous behavior” has ever made the slightest dent in the enormous inherent differences between the sexes. The Margaret Mead-inspired fantasies of primitive people living in perfect gender-blind egalitarism are just that: fantasies.

    Besides which, encouraging boys to act like girls is the most destructive thing any society can possibly do. Every society depends absolutely on men being able to behave like men.

    Despite the attempts of the authors you cite to twist science to meet their fantasies, all the hard evidence, as well as all personal observation throughout human history, suggests rather that the differences between men and women are much greater than we have ever realized.

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