Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

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Jessica
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Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

I have seen studies about the differences between men and women on another of occasions. I've seen the comparative bell curves between them, and how there really isn't much of a difference on many issues. I've collected anecdotal evidence, and some small actual evidence that there isn't as much of a difference as some people claim on variables such as strength.

I was wondering about studies. Factual evidence I can use in arguments.

Note: Yes, I know this is a biased question. If you want to provide studies from the other side, that's fine as well, but please don't bombard the thread with "you're wrong, those studies don't exist". I know they do, as I've seen them.

Also note: I'm attempting to argue against people who simply say "there are biological differences, so girls throw badly". Studies or theories would be appreciated. Especially looking at the actual differences, and how much biology actually effects most outcomes. Also, arguing against "There aren't many women in field X, thus they must not like it" meme.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:12 pm UTC

Your question is a bit confusing to me. It sounds to me like you've already seen the very sorts of studies you're interested in finding, so I'm not really sure what the concern is. Have you tried this? You could also look through the references found here.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby psychosomaticism » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:13 pm UTC

I too don't believe there's as large a difference as is portrayed. There's obviously some difference, but not to the point that men are from Mars... etc.

As for the Wiki article that was linked above, especially with regards to the sources cited:

-17. The study concludes that women have more pain receptors on average on facial tissue. Firstly, that's a really poor sample area, and I fail to see what it has to do with the overall conclusion.

-18. A sample size of 140 to find statistical difference between gay and straight males and females. It might be enough to do the math without incurring the wrath of a statistician, but with all the different comparisons the error possibility goes up considerably (if I'm thinking about this right; haven't taken much stats)

-19. I found the difference in smell test interesting, and I don't think there's too much bad with the testing, especially because the article doesn't give much information on the methods. However, I'd point out that it says there isn't a difference between older people, which leads me to believe it's hormonal and not physiological.

And telling someone to Google something (and giving them a link to the world's most visited and well known page) does not constitute a thoughtful discussion.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:33 pm UTC

I'm looking for the actual studies so I can link them, instead of asking for evidence in general.
Also, I tried googling, but I couldn't find any information, other than the wiki page.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:41 pm UTC

The proposition "Find me evidence to support position X" does not lend itself particularly well to insightful discussion. I'm sure any of the major journals on Psychology, Sociology, Physiology, or even something like Science or Nature would have plenty of papers on this. Google Scholar gave me almost a million hits when I punched in "biological differences between men and women".

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby EnderSword » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

You're trying to find studies showing that there is not actually physical strength differences?

I'm not sure you're going to find much that shows you that physical strength is comperable unless you find something on a niche muscle or something, maybe jaw strength or something like that.
And studies of the rest, like preferences in feilds always have some reason why it isn't valid, all you've got to do is say' Well society makes it that way' and you've got some untestable theory.

Here's a couple of strength studies, but they do show some fairly extreme differences.
http://www.jssm.org/vol4/n2/8/v4n2-8pdf.pdf
http://www.iowaahperd.org/journal/j96s_strength.html
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:44 pm UTC

It did give me a million results as well. And I was wondering if anyone had specific studies instead of opening 1,000,000 entries in google scholar.

You may notice that I'm not trying to argue. If that means this thread should be deleted or moved, then that's fine. I accept my fate. I just thought that Serious Business would be a good place to start for people having articles about this.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Philosophaster » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:21 pm UTC

When you say that "there aren't differences," what exactly do you mean? Do you mean that there aren't differences when simply comparing a random sample of men and women on muscular strength tests? Or do you mean there aren't differences when you adjust for stuff like body mass and body fat percentage?

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby mikhail » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:28 pm UTC

One of the persistent ideas I've read about intelligence and gender is that while mean IQ is about the same for both genders, males have a higher variance - bluntly, more retards and more geniuses. Wikipedia mentions this, and quotes this study to back it up. It does seem to say that, but I haven't read it in detail. Reading it and its references might be a place to start.

Deary, I.J., Irwing, P., Der, G., & Bates, T.C. (2007). "Brother–sister differences in the g factor in intelligence: Analysis of full, opposite-sex siblings from the NLSY1979." Intelligence, 35(5): 451-456.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby athelas » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:29 pm UTC

Yep, more here. While the OP is looking at strength differences, I take a dim view of "Please do some research for me to support my preconceived notions," so off we go :P

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:30 am UTC

This is my first post, so please excuse any societal etiquette I might break.

Jessica - your forum sig has a link to a donation page for your surgery, so I think I can assume that you are a pre-op male -> female transgendered person? If this is not the case, then I apologise to the utmost degree. However. I have several friends who are transgendered [not the "oh, i have a friend who is X"], and my close friend Alex (previously Andrew, if we have a problem with the 'gender neutral' name of Alex) is now post-op, and I have been through most of her experiences (including the nasty ones like being evicted from her flat for "not being a guy" and being beaten up in pubs).

I think you're approaching this issue slightly in the wrong manner? Or is this not related to your personal choices?

Gender differences do exist. In the biological, physical, neural and emotional/intellectual ranges. Neither is "better" than the other, they simply exist. You, yourself, kinda prove it ;) If the two genders were *that* similar, then your own personal experience would be merely shrugged off by society as a whole "and?" comment. Like having a different hair-style. The fact society (sadly) has such a huge problem with transgendered people shows how entrenched these differences are. Alex had to live in a compound with other transgendered people with extreme security measures at one point - meeting the people there showed me just how odious & negative the reactions against transgendered people can be. Count yourself very lucky! Modern surgery is a marvel, I met several woman aged 50+ who had had to live with the first steps of the journey (medically speaking) and who were so, so, so brave. But having a baritone voice as a woman, and not being able to receive hormone replacement is obvious. They are still women, just failed by the techniques of their time.

Biologically - the range of various qualitative measures do vary by gender. Pain was mentioned - oddly. Most studies conclude that women deal better with pain than men ;) However, without outside assistance [aka steroids] your physiology as a male is fundamentally different to a female, in muscle bulk, body function etc.
Emotionally - difficult to gauge - largely societal based.
Intellectual - difficult to gauge - largely societal based (aka, the whole "if an IQ test is written by Eurocentric white males, then eurocentric white males will get better results in said IQ test")


Speaking to Alex (who is, I'm afraid, rather sexy & confident these days :p ) she says - be happy with the woman you are, ignore what is "supposed" to be.



p.s.


Do I need to cite? I thought that comparative biology was easy to find? Muscle structure etc is as easy to define as not having a rib, or having an 'adams apple'.

[edit] A simple comparative test of muscle strength is easy enough to find: google the Olypmic records for male / female weight lifting. There is a massive difference (even including steroid abuse), I'm afraid. Women, even to the extremes of body building, cannot achieve the muscle bulk of men. If we go deeper into muscle efficiency then this is a different question.
Last edited by Arete on Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:49 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:45 am UTC

Nevermind. I think I phrased it wrong, but in the end it doesn't matter.

Thank you arete. I... I know there are differences.

I was trying to get something else but I'm not really sure anymore, and I really don't want to fight about it with them, or here either. So I'm just going to concede that men are better at everything, and it's because of their Y chromosome that they are better. And yes, women are weak etc.

Sorry. I'd love to have this thread deleted.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:52 am UTC

Jessica wrote:Nevermind. I think I phrased it wrong, but in the end it doesn't matter.

Thank you arete. I... I know there are differences.

I was trying to get something else but I'm not really sure anymore, and I really don't want to fight about it with them, or here either. So I'm just going to concede that men are better at everything, and it's because of their Y chromosome that they are better. And yes, women are weak etc.

Sorry. I'd love to have this thread deleted.



See my edit! Please? Neither are better, differences just exist, that is all. There's not a judgmental "better" or "worse" here to all this.

Men > Women is so false, it is untrue. :( :(


I'm based in the UK - however, I'm sure you can find supportive people in Canada. Could you please state (however bluntly) the issue that has raised this question?

p.s.

Refresh page, your response was added while I was adding stuff - Count yourself very lucky! Modern surgery is a marvel, I met several woman aged 50+ who had had to live with the first steps of the journey (medically speaking) and who were so, so, so brave. But having a baritone voice as a woman, and not being able to receive hormone replacement is obvious. They are still women, just failed by the techniques of their time. .

Trust me - others have been through this, and you're lucky! Trust me on this! (And Alex is now... kinda depressingly sexy. She teases me all the time about it ;) )

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby sje46 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:58 am UTC

Jessica wrote:Nevermind. I think I phrased it wrong, but in the end it doesn't matter.

Thank you arete. I... I know there are differences.

I was trying to get something else but I'm not really sure anymore, and I really don't want to fight about it with them, or here either. So I'm just going to concede that men are better at everything, and it's because of their Y chromosome that they are better. And yes, women are weak etc.

Sorry. I'd love to have this thread deleted.

Jesus Christ.
Why are you being so passive-aggressive? No one said or implied that men are better at everything. At all. They said that men are genetically predisposed with certain advantages in the physical strength department. No one even implied that women were wearker intellectually or emotionally.
So what is the point of this thread? Is it just physical stuff?

I hope this thread isn't deleted, because I am really interested in the inherent differences between males and females.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:21 am UTC

Jessica wrote:I really don't want to fight about it with them, or here either.



Don't let the bastards grind you down.

If you're not receiving the support you deserve from your doctor / counselor / community, then its not your failing, its theirs. Use the internet, find support groups, get in touch with local transgendered societies [LGB groups are a good through way]. Even if you're living in the rural puritan highlands, there's hope :)

There's no fight here - if you're not getting 100% approval, then I suggest (strongly), you do what Alex did: fuck them all, and come back and blow them all away. You can, and you know you can!


p.s.


Don't buy into the whole "stereotypical female sexuality" trope. Alex was lucky, she's just damn sexy. Anyone can be sexy with the right attitude - and the right attitude is: "Hey, this is me, this is what I think, and yes.. you're male.. and this is what nice new hormones have given me breast wise" ;) (sorry to be crude!)

[edit] That was obviously ironic. You will be sexy the moment your personality and body hit the same groove. That's what I meant... and I've seen it in action. Goes for anyone - any gender - any sexuality. If you're bonded with your body, everything else flows. (And yes.. Alex & I slept together - but only after she was what she wanted to be. Was very good, as well!) :P

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby EmptySet » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:32 am UTC

Jessica wrote:Also note: I'm attempting to argue against people who simply say "there are biological differences, so girls throw badly".


Random side note: technique is far more important than raw strength when it comes to throwing stuff, unless you're throwing something really, really heavy. If a girl is poor at throwing stuff, it's most likely because she wasn't expected to play cricket/baseball/whatever and never learned to do it properly. The difference between men and women certainly isn't great enough to prevent girls being able to throw a ball.

Also, a couple of studies: muscle mass and size differences. According to the first, men (on average) have somewhat higher muscle mass (absolute and as a proportion of total mass). The second is apparently bunch of measurements NATO took so they could manufacture protective gear which actually fits properly, and shows that men are generally larger and broader across the shoulders, while women have wider hips. The muscle mass difference might be explainable in terms of women having less muscle because they're not encouraged to play sport and work out, but I don't think you can really write off higher average height and shoulder span as cultural effects. I think it's an inescapable fact that there are physiological differences between men and women, on average. That said, most people are not average - there are plenty of tall women and short men - so there's no point reading too much into it.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby apoklips » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:18 am UTC

athelas wrote:Yep, more here. While the OP is looking at strength differences, I take a dim view of "Please do some research for me to support my preconceived notions," so off we go :P

Wasn't there also a similar study that showed girls were likely to do as well as, or even outscore boys in math in countries with more gender equity? And also as likely to be represented in the top 2%? Or is this wrong?

Arete wrote:Jessica - your forum sig has a link to a donation page for your surgery, so I think I can assume that you are a pre-op male -> female transgendered person?

I fail to see what this has to do with anything or why you would bring this up.

Arete wrote:If the two genders were *that* similar, then your own personal experience would be merely shrugged off by society as a whole "and?" comment. Like having a different hair-style. The fact society (sadly) has such a huge problem with transgendered people shows how entrenched these differences are.


Society having a problem with transgendered people does not prove anything in regards to gender differences. Replace "genders" with "races" and "transgendered" with "black" and tell me if you see a problem with your logic.


Also, Jessica, I am not sure if this is what you were looking for at all, but here:
http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/amp606581.pdf
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:13 pm UTC

Thank you Apoklips! that's exactly what I was looking for!
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby General_Norris » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:21 pm UTC

Around 80% of the students who made the access to my university were girls.

I think this will be a good year.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby mister k » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:57 pm UTC

Aretete, while I suspect your advice comes from a place with good intentions, it doesn't appear to have been asked for, and indeed has made the op feel bad. Also, yes, there are clearly differences between men and women, but how much of these are inherently cultural is unclear, particularly on physical and intellectual questions. Hence: science!

Anecdote: on the way home on the bus a few years ago I chatted to a sport scientist who was carrying out a project on this very subject. According to her the answer was "yes theres a difference, but its not that much".

Jessica, if you have access to web of knowledge thats a good place to search for literature, but you will need some kind of academic license for that.

A google scholar search gave a few articles at first look
This paper is just an abstract, but suggests a physical mechanism for differences between men and women during running

This one looks at athletes, which I disapprove of

(if both men and women are sampled from a normal distribution of physical activity, the athletes represent outliers. To produce the outliers of high quality requires large sampling, and one could argue that women are less encouraged to get physically involved than male athletes.)

Sadly, I do not have the time to search this. An important argument to make here is that it is extremely difficult to demonstrate differences between either gender, because of the massive confounders that exist in society. Social statistics should always be taken with a pinch of salt, and agendas can be confirmed by over interpreting certain statistics. Even if we find differences between men and women, unless we can find appropriate mechanisms for them, they can be explained by cultural reasons. It does seem that theres some effort going into looking for these mechanisms, because these do add weight to any particular suggestion.

I can say with no shadow of a doubt that the notion of throwing like a girl is nonsense. Also that a strong woman will take down most men, just as a strong man would.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Griffin » Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:08 am UTC

That said, most people are not average - there are plenty of tall women and short men - so there's no point reading too much into it.


I think this is something that bears repeating, as its something a lot of people forget when this issue comes up. Like saying "dogs would win in a fight against a cat", it makes sense mentally and you can find plenty of statistical evidence to back it up, but the reality of the situation "pug vs. lion" quickly over rules any and all generalities. Much like races, there are genetic, physiological, and psychological variances between the various groups tested, but the internal, within group variation is almost always high enough to render such generalities useless.

The only situations where such statistic might be useful is trying to find unfair discriminatory trends - if 90% of guys are stronger than 90% of women, but women have 80% of the jobs lifting heavy weights, something weird and possibly discriminatory is going on. But even groups who do that for a living tend to be piss poor at wringing uses from such statistics.

So I don't think evidence, statistical evidence anyways, is what you want. Most likely, it will come up against you - statistics find underlying trends, which ARE occasionally significantly different between men and women, but they don't usually describe the cause, meaning, or usefulness of such statistics. Your a lot better off showing the statistical differences aren't actually meaningful - a much easier task, imo.

Though I think three things can generally be considered common enough and meaningful enough to be useful to keep in mind for some reason or other. Women are better at getting pregnant. The sexual organs of the respective genders differ. Men are better at growing beards. I really had to struggle with that third one to come up with something :P
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby apoklips » Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:05 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:Thank you Apoklips! that's exactly what I was looking for!

Glad to be of service :)

Griffin wrote:Much like races, there are genetic, physiological, and psychological variances between the various groups tested, but the internal, within group variation is almost always high enough to render such generalities useless.

QFMFT. Seriously.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby GoodRudeFun » Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:31 pm UTC

Well, what I wanted to say has already been said. I've heard many times that despite there being statistical differences between men and women, both groups vary so much that those statistics don't really mean anything. A physically strong women can be stronger than an average man (very easily), for example.

But I think the OP wasn't looking for information on physiological differences.... I have no idea how the other "differences" play in though. It could all be entirely societal/indoctrinated in to people. There are also obviously more than two "modes". I'm sure there are many and that most, if not all of them are shared by both genders (in that some one of each gender will have one particular mode). I'm also pretty sure we shouldn't really just say there are only two genders, as that is obviously not true.

So differences seem to pretty pointless in the end. Unfortunately I don't have any information or experience to say anything that would help, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and hope that they help at least a little bit.
Oh. Well that's alright then.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby athelas » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:15 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:I think this is something that bears repeating, as its something a lot of people forget when this issue comes up. Like saying "dogs would win in a fight against a cat", it makes sense mentally and you can find plenty of statistical evidence to back it up, but the reality of the situation "pug vs. lion" quickly over rules any and all generalities. Much like races, there are genetic, physiological, and psychological variances between the various groups tested, but the internal, within group variation is almost always high enough to render such generalities useless.
...when considering individual cases. It is important when comparing groups, but unfortunately most people fail at statistics. So, they go towards extremes, either of the "all men are John Wayne" or "no differences between the sexes" varieties.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:11 am UTC

mister k wrote:Aretete, while I suspect your advice comes from a place with good intentions, it doesn't appear to have been asked for, and indeed has made the op feel bad


I'm sorry for that, and indeed apologised after the fact, above. Perhaps I jumped the gun, but from personal experience, transgendered people are often confused and conflicted by the "normative standards" of society, and often feel depressed / unable to fit in / rejected when 'science' is used to define them. Trying to fit in via shoe horning into normal society is the wrong way around, in my experience - my (personal) experience with it has been - accept the person qua person. If the OP feels bad that men and women are different, then, I cannot help. I did suggest that the difference between the two is part of who she is.

I also think it is totally disingenuous to suggest that male / female muscle structure is "similar" in quantitative terms:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wo ... ghtlifting

At the top end, there's a difference of about 150kg. That's not a scientifically slight amount. I already mentioned the difference between efficiency and mass.

Bottom line: bell curves, yadda, yadda, yadda. This topic is not about science & muscle bulk: it really isn't. If you've any kind of empathy, you'd have clocked that already.


@Jessica - no, science doesn't do "emotive support". Look elsewhere for it, really do. [and as stated, if you do need support, I'm happy to put you in contact with Alex]


apoklips wrote:
Society having a problem with transgendered people does not prove anything in regards to gender differences. Replace "genders" with "races" and "transgendered" with "black" and tell me if you see a problem with your logic.



Sorry, the two do not equate.

To suggest that they do is both insulting and silly.

Simple rebuttal: The colour of your skin is purely on the outside - your gender is who you are on the inside. If you need that unpacking a little bit more, I'm happy to do it - but they really, really, REALLY aren't the same. I'll go further - your analogy essentially insults Jessica (and others) issues by putting it into merely a "skin deep" issue. Your skin is what it is - and there's many problems on how society sees it - but transgendered issues are about exactly the opposite - society seeing you as something you do not feel you are. Grrrr.

pft.
Last edited by Arete on Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:25 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Nath » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:19 am UTC

Griffin wrote:I think this is something that bears repeating, as its something a lot of people forget when this issue comes up. Like saying "dogs would win in a fight against a cat", it makes sense mentally and you can find plenty of statistical evidence to back it up, but the reality of the situation "pug vs. lion" quickly over rules any and all generalities. Much like races, there are genetic, physiological, and psychological variances between the various groups tested, but the internal, within group variation is almost always high enough to render such generalities useless.

I see what you're saying, but I wouldn't go so far as to call these kinds of group statistics useless. Sure, you can't say things like, "all dogs will win against all cats", but you can say things like, "I expect that x percent of the top 100 fighters in this group of animals are dogs", or "if a hundred random dogs fight a hundred random cats, I expect dogs to win y percent of the time". Statements analogous to these can be used to reason about the causes and extent of the racial and gender skews in various professions/sports/whatever.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:27 am UTC

Nath wrote:I see what you're saying, but I wouldn't go so far as to call these kinds of group statistics useless. Sure, you can't say things like, "all dogs will win against all cats", but you can say things like, "I expect that x percent of the top 100 fighters in this group of animals are dogs", or "if a hundred random dogs fight a hundred random cats, I expect dogs to win y percent of the time". Statements analogous to these can be used to reason about the causes and extent of the racial and gender skews in various professions/sports/whatever.




I do feel like this forum is failing to see the real issues here, I really do.



@ Jessica - you've already stated some highly emotive stuff about "them being right" and men > women.

Please expand this - I'm sorry, but male and female genders are not the same - looking for evidence that muscles are the same is somewhat odd to me. As the OP, could you please explain why this is important, and why you made the topic? (and feel free to correct me if I was wrong in assuming that it was related to your transgendered identity, but... somehow I think it is entirely about it, and about the people you're having to deal with)

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Arete » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:07 am UTC





If we're being scientific please read that study. And the "classes" that are weighed against each other. "Thrown distance" then goes into "Moral reasoning". It is about developmental factors, not physiological / biological factors. i.e. how genders develop in an equal system.


I'm really surprised it passed peer review. If I wanted to be harsh - it is a sociological paper, and not a particularly good one at that, it being a "meta" analysis, aka, it is picking & choosing other studies for its data.

The gender similarities hypothesis holds that males and females are similar on most, but not all, psychological variables.

This is obviously weighted, and based on social factors within your society. All it is really saying is "how do genders get treated within our particular educational bias, and how do they interact. It says nothing about real gender differences.


It is also hopelessly outdated, and wrong: for instance "ability in math" is actually now realised as a language related issue, in terms of development in children. Asian [Japanese, Korean, Chinese] counting is vastly more intuitive than Western languages because of the structure of the words used in counting. If you need a citation, I suggest you look up the difference between counting in "seven-TEEN" and so on, and Asian languages [10+7] etc. There's a recent paper by the Australian educational minister on it.


So,, are we being scientific here?
Last edited by Arete on Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:21 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Vaniver » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:20 am UTC

apoklips wrote:Also, Jessica, I am not sure if this is what you were looking for at all, but here:
http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/amp606581.pdf
It bothers me a little that the plurality of cases were in the "small" difference, and that the mean difference (.28 by my calculation) is moderately large for the small category. I'm not sure whether that's worth challenging "more similar than different" on semantic grounds- it seems more appropriate to say that "gender differences, on the whole, are mostly small, with only 22% of categories showing a moderate or higher difference," but it doesn't seem inappropriate to call a small difference more similar than different.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Jessica » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:34 am UTC

I'm trying to show a group of people that statements like "you throw like a girl" are insulting, even if statistically, men are stronger on average. Also, when I try and say we should have gender equality, they say "men and women are different".

Yes, they are different. But, they aren't different to the point where the equalities we see in society are accurate representations of the biological differences between men and women.

Again, I'm not trying to look for men and women are exactly the same. I'm looking for studies which aren't just "Men are better at this" or "Men are justified to be the only ones in the military because they have muscles" or "women belong with kids because evolutionary bullshit X".

The biggest one people talk about is physical strength. And yes, there is a major strength difference. I'm wondering how much these innate statistical differences effect people, or whether they should matter at all. For example, an average strength man and a average strength woman might not be able to do the same things, but they can do what average strength individuals can do, no?
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby athelas » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:02 am UTC

Jessica wrote:Yes, they are different. But, they aren't different to the point where the equalities we see in society are accurate representations of the biological differences between men and women.
Now that's where we part ways. "All girls are weaklings" is inaccurate, but so is "The disparity between men and women in Olympic weightlifting necessarily means SOCIETY'S SEXIST." Same goes for representation in the military or top levels of mathematics (larger male variance at work).

Same goes, by the way, for the male-dominated prison population, (selected for aggression and low intelligence) but you don't hear as much gnashing of teeth over that one. Wonder why.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby apoklips » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:42 am UTC

Arete wrote:Simple rebuttal: The colour of your skin is purely on the outside - your gender is who you are on the inside. If you need that unpacking a little bit more, I'm happy to do it - but they really, really, REALLY aren't the same.

Thanks for explaining, but I never said they were the same.
Arete wrote:I also think it is totally disingenuous to suggest that male / female muscle structure is "similar" in quantitative terms:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wo ... ghtlifting

At the top end, there's a difference of about 150kg. That's not a scientifically slight amount. I already mentioned the difference between efficiency and mass.

I think Jessica was looking for more than just physiological differences or similarities.
Arete wrote:It is also hopelessly outdated, and wrong: for instance "ability in math" is actually now realised as a language related issue, in terms of development in children. Asian [Japanese, Korean, Chinese] counting is vastly more intuitive than Western languages because of the structure of the words used in counting. If you need a citation, I suggest you look up the difference between counting in "seven-TEEN" and so on, and Asian languages [10+7] etc. There's a recent paper by the Australian educational minister on it.

It could very well be wrong, which is why it's a hypothesis, but I don't see how it's particularly outdated. Furthermore, I fail to see the relevance of math as a language related issue in this particular context, but perhaps I am missing something. Either way, I would very much like to read the paper you are referring to, if you could provide a link to it, that would be great. I tried finding it myself but couldn't.

On an unrelated note: you can lay off the boldface. We understand you without it. Really.
athelas wrote:Same goes for representation in the military or top levels of mathematics (larger male variance at work).

A disproportionate number of men being represented at the top levels of mathematics can't be attributed solely to the larger male variance in IQ, since social factors are likely playing a part in it as well.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:34 am UTC

The same goes for the military, where women aren't given opportunities to advance with combat experience because, well, they aren't placed in combat roles.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Lucrece » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:10 am UTC

Something I read asserted that some of the differences existent in the average male and female have to do with upbringing. Boys typically engage in rigorous athletics from an early age, especially in their developmental periods. So while a girl has had to invest quite some time in learning how to perfect her hair, how to dress, put on make-up; a boy will have spent a large part of his years working his physique.

Body-building, for example. I'm not sure whether the female bodybuilders all take something that drastically alters the biological female make-up (same goes for males; bodybuilders are NOT your average male). These women can severely outrank most existing males, including men in the military, when it comes to strength.

I'm really itching to find a study that doesn't focus on the differences (we know they are there), but one that gives a definitive answer on the degree of difference between these groups. It seems we tend to exaggerate them, especially in the military's case (where women won't be even given a chance at trying out for some positions; I thought the military worked as a meritocracy).
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Thriftweed » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:31 am UTC

Jessica wrote:I'm trying to show a group of people that statements like "you throw like a girl" are insulting, even if statistically, men are stronger on average. Also, when I try and say we should have gender equality, they say "men and women are different".
One way to show whoever's making the sexist comments that they're wrong is to take them to a local women's wrestling league practice, then tell some of the wrestlers what the guys said and ask if one of them could help you with a rebuttal. For the non-physiological differences, just point out that they only mean that men are X% more likely to be "not normal" (for some low value of X) and that "not normal" is a roughly 50/50 split between better and worse.

Jessica wrote:The biggest one people talk about is physical strength. And yes, there is a major strength difference. I'm wondering how much these innate statistical differences effect people, or whether they should matter at all. For example, an average strength man and a average strength woman might not be able to do the same things, but they can do what average strength individuals can do, no?
Unless one is in a competitive sport or has a very physically demanding job, their probably isn't much difference. For the average person strength is probably much more closely related to the amount of exercise they do than their gender. Given how few people come anywhere close to their "maximum" strength, the main difference would be that the average man might build muscles slightly faster than the average woman if they both start exercising a bit. (Of course, this is speculation. If anyone knows a study done regarding the strength difference between genders when people aren't exercising, please let me know.)

Edit: Corrected a badly phrased sentence.
Last edited by Thriftweed on Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:38 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Nath » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:28 am UTC

Lucrece wrote:Something I read asserted that some of the differences existent in the average male and female have to do with upbringing. Boys typically engage in rigorous athletics from an early age, especially in their developmental periods. So while a girl has had to invest quite some time in learning how to perfect her hair, how to dress, put on make-up; a boy will have spent a large part of his years working his physique.

While upbringing is very probably a factor, I'd be very surprised if it accounts for all (or even most) of the strength difference. I haven't gone looking for a study to support this, but anecdotally I've found little connection between peoples' activity levels in early childhood and their strength and fitness levels as adults. Their habits as adults (and maybe in late childhood) are what determine their fitness levels. I think upbringing accounts for most of the gender differences in career paths, social habits etc., but probably not strength.

EDIT: That said, some of the difference is probably caused by social expectations that affect adults.

Thriftweed wrote:Unless one is in a competitive sport or a very physically demanding job, the difference probably doesn't matter much.

I agree that strength is pretty irrelevant for most jobs, at least once you pass a certain minimum threshold that most healthy people do. I do wonder about jobs that do have physical requirements, but have different standards for men and women. That seems sort of illogical -- if someone who meets the lower set of standards is still strong enough to do the job, why not lower the standards equally for both sexes?

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Thriftweed » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:58 am UTC

Nath wrote:I agree that strength is pretty irrelevant for most jobs, at least once you pass a certain minimum threshold that most healthy people do. I do wonder about jobs that do have physical requirements, but have different standards for men and women. That seems sort of illogical -- if someone who meets the lower set of standards is still strong enough to do the job, why not lower the standards equally for both sexes?
I meant to say that unless someone is exercising regularly their gender probably doesn't affect their strength much, but I phrased it badly.

The different-physical-requirements thing is something that bugs me, though. Originally, most places had one set of requirements that were the minimum necessary to safely do the job, but this changed after a number of anti-discrimination lawsuits. The one I remember reading about was a case were a woman wanted to join a fire department but didn't meet the minimum anaerobic exercise requirements, so she sued the fire department on the basis that the test favored men (who tend to be better at said anaerobic exercises). Unfortunately, she won and the fire department had to introduce new requirements with lower standards for women, meaning that many of the new recruits were unable to perform their job safely* (eg, if an oxygen tank failed they wouldn't be able to hold their breath long enough to get out safely). I'm in favor of gender equality, but I definitely don't support ignoring necessary safety standards just because they might pose a challenge to one gender.

* Hopefully this has changed by now, though, and female firefighters are required to be competent. The different standards would just mean the male firefighters are held to a higher standard than necessary.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby Nath » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:52 am UTC

Thriftweed wrote:I meant to say that unless someone is exercising regularly their gender probably doesn't affect their strength much, but I phrased it badly.

So you're saying that if you only consider people who don't exercise regularly, the average strength of males and females is probably similar? I'd be surprised; the average weight and body fat percentage are different. Perhaps after you correct for those factors.

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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby mister k » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:27 am UTC

Jessica wrote:I'm trying to show a group of people that statements like "you throw like a girl" are insulting, even if statistically, men are stronger on average. Also, when I try and say we should have gender equality, they say "men and women are different".

Yes, they are different. But, they aren't different to the point where the equalities we see in society are accurate representations of the biological differences between men and women.

Again, I'm not trying to look for men and women are exactly the same. I'm looking for studies which aren't just "Men are better at this" or "Men are justified to be the only ones in the military because they have muscles" or "women belong with kids because evolutionary bullshit X".

The biggest one people talk about is physical strength. And yes, there is a major strength difference. I'm wondering how much these innate statistical differences effect people, or whether they should matter at all. For example, an average strength man and a average strength woman might not be able to do the same things, but they can do what average strength individuals can do, no?



I would recommend making arguments based on what they think these difference are. First of all, the comment "throw like a girl" is based on a particular way of throwing which comes from some girls simply not being taught how to throw correctly. It is an intrinsicly sexist statement. For the kind of throwing most people will need, hand to eye coordination is going to be a lot more important than sheer throwing power, and there's nothing to stop either sex being good at that.

A simple argument in favour of women being in the military: suppose men have a higher mean strength than women. Suppose I only want to recruit people stronger than z amount to the military. It then makes sense for me to run some physical fitness tests on people who want to join. If they meet this criteria, z, they can join. Being female would not, of course, preclude one from joining under this non- sex discriminatory policy, but might make it a little harder. One would expect more men than women to be in the army, but there would still be a place for men. What your friends are doing is utterly failing to understand statistics. Just because on average men are stronger than women does not, of course, mean women can't be strong. Even if men were smarter than women (which they are not), it would not make sense to not hire women, it would make sense not to hire unintelligent women, just as you hire unintelligent men.

Indeed in almost all fields of life, it is better to discriminate on competence rather than demographics, because of variance. Variance is important, not the mean, and a person is not a demographic, they are what their life made them so far.
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Re: Looking for evidence - Male/female differences

Postby EnderSword » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:52 pm UTC

A large part of the males in the military argument rests on the idea of male group psychology and the social complications of adding women to the military, not just the physical strength required.
Since you're not going to really going to be able to demonstrate much against the strength portion of that argument, but you could try and attack that psychological side of the argument and you could lure someone into a real hard to defend position.

Basically get them to say that the addition of women would ruin the structure of the male pack-mentality, then instead of trying to actually argue that it doesn't ruin it which is hard to show...argue that it's not the women's fault that it ruins it. Much harder to defend position looked at that angle because you frame the female side as something men need to learn to deal with as opposed to trying to compare performance...you end up shaping it as a male mental weakness as opposed to a female strength, so its easier to score on.

On comments like 'throws like a girl' stick to technique and skill based things, not strength. show that women can learn athletic skill sets while avoiding strength comparisons. Show the men and women can throw with similar skill, but you'll need to avoid for instance pitching speed comparisons.

On math stuff, I think what you see in studies is actually that girls at certain ages outscore boys of the same age, but that the advantage disappears and reverses as they get older.
The common thinking on that tends to be that girls mature faster (this math advantage also comes at the time when girls are often even taller on average than male counterparts) but instead of following that line of it, you can claim that at that age no one is trying to oppress the girls yet, and as they age they're forced to abandon math because 'society' makes them do it.

Overall, as its pointed out at the top end things fall apart and the differences in things like strength and athletic ability tend to skew wildly towards men, so try and use unfair comparisons, like comparing a sedentary male against an athletic female.
You can also try and use concepts like 'pain endurance' which are harder to measure and try and claim women can be tougher in a lot of instances.

It's all pretty disingenuous to argue, but if you're doing it in the form of a formal debate, or in front of any type of audience it'll be hard to lose because it keeps putting people in fairly emotional, sexist and hard to openly defend positions.
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