February Book Club – Gender Differences

This book club meeting was a point/counter point between two books with varying views. We read The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley (2003) and Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine. The group felt that each of these books strongly took one side of the nature vs. nurture debate. The Red Queen argues that gender differences are based in nature and Delusions of Gender argues for nurture. Members discussed the idea that culture and genetics inform each other; culture can affect genetics just as genetics can affect culture. In a sense, culture is a continuum that is constantly changing and “evolving” from previous renditions. The group discussed the authors’ biases towards their standpoint given Ridley’s background in zoology and Fine’s background in psychology.  The group was somewhat skeptical of the quality of evidence presented, particularly in the Delusions of Gender which argues that cultural assumptions cause gender differences.  The group would have liked to see more concrete examples of studies including information on methodology, sample size, effect size and resulting significance tests. The group conceded that if the evidence Fine produced held up under scrutiny, society may then need to consider Fine’s arguments about our culture causing gender differences.

Join us next month on March 15 for a discussion on Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain. From Amazon.com:

Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.

March’s book club comes immediately after an upcoming special event: A Evening With Chris Mooney on Monday, March 11, 2013. It will be interesting and fun to discuss Mooney’s book after meeting him in person. Don’t miss either event!

(Special thanks to Rose for helping with this entry in my absence.)


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