Friday, January 28, 2011


Cordelia Fine's fantastic analysis of "neurosexism" and exposé of the sloppy reasoning that feeds misconceptions about gendered brain differences to the popular press is reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement by Carol Tavris.

This is a good book to use in class--not just a class on feminist theory, but also in a philosophy of science class that examines the structure of evidential claims and the ways that values can influence scientific research and the communication of science.

From the review:
Fine’s romp through the fields of neurosexism is sandwiched between two other sections; in the first, she explores the unsexy, low-tech, but primary causes of gender differences in achievement: the persistence of discrimination, subtle and blatant, that convey the message to women – “You don’t belong here”, and the institutional rules, explicit and implicit, that impede advancement – or make it possible; after all, the international rise of women in law, medicine, science, bartending and the military did not occur because their brains became less lateralized. The final section examines the socialization of children and the phenomenon that draws so many parents to the notion that sex differences are innate: the sex-stereotyped play choices and behaviours of their toddlers. Parents aren’t wrong in what they observe. They are wrong only in assuming that their child’s preferences at the age of three, four or five has anything at all to do with what that child will grow up to become.

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