Focus Questions: Are the differences in the behavior and cognition of men and women biological (nature) or due to social conditioning (nurture)? What are these specific differences and are they socially significant?
Thesis Statement: The differences between male and female brains with respect to cognition and behavior are due to both biological factors and social conditioning, though the largest discrepancies are caused by nature.
What does “nature vs. nurture” mean?
“Nature” is an explanation for the differences between men and women that suggests that many (and in some cases all) differences are due to evolutionary causes, and are cogenital and unaviodable.
“Nurture” is the exact ...view middle of the document...
These studies have been used to propagate the opinion that women should not take jobs, and instead remain in their role as caretakers and housekeepers. (Hammer)
Social conservatives started using the biological evidence of gender differences to claim validity for the women-as-natural-homemaker model of society. (Blustain)
Gradual acceptance of the topic
There is a critical mass of evidence which has made it inescapable that there is a biological difference in behaviour between the sexes. (Alaton)
Opinions that challenged previous feminist notions of the complete identicalness of the genders appeared as early as the mid 1980’s.
It is only since Raisman’s and Field’s study (the first scientists to discover gender-based differences in mammal brains) that researchers have felt that there could be structural sex differences in the brain. (Gibbons)
Proponents of the nature argument
It is evolution and biology that make us significantly different, and no amount of feminist agitation will change that. Men will continue to be philandering, non-nurturing and sex-focused, and women will continue to be mothering keepers-of-the-hearth. (Blustain)
Proponents of the nurture argument
Men dominated fields like architecture and engineering because of social, not hormonal, pressures. Women did the vast majority of society's child rearing because few other options were available to them. (Gorman)
Women talk to express caring, gain consensus and build community; men talk to rank one another and maintain a competitive position. (Alaton)
New technology in brain imaging reveals that men and women actually use different parts of their brains to deal with the same tasks. (Alaton)
Advantages that males have
Men excel at thinking in three dimensions. (Gorman)
This may be due to ancient evolutionary pressures related to hunting, which requires orienting oneself while pursuing prey. (Gorman)
Disadvantages that males have
Young boys are told to ignore pain and not to cry. (Gorman)
Some anthropologists argue that this psychic wound is inflicted to separate boys from their mothers and prepare them for warfare. (Gorman)
Advantages that females have
Females are gifted at detecting the feelings and thoughts of others, inferring intentions, absorbing contextual clues and responding in emotionally appropriate ways. (Marano)
This ability may result from society's emphasis on raising girls to be sensitive. (Gorman)
Some researchers speculate that it has arisen to give women greater skill in interpreting the cues of toddlers before they are able to speak. (Gorman)
Verbal/written communication skills
Preliminary neurological studies show that women make use of both hemispheres of their brain during even the simplest verbal tasks, like spelling. (Gorman)
This greater access to the brain's imagery and depth may help explain why girls often begin speaking earlier than boys, enunciate more clearly as tots and develop a larger...