Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It

Author: Lise Eliot
This Month Hacker News 1


by n4r9   2018-11-17
Yes, scientific disagreement. These are scientists who study gender and evolutionary psychology and say that Damore's scientific claims are unjustified.

If you follow through from the links in the article I posted, you'll find further links to comprehensive sources. I'll do some of the work for you:

> Lise Eliot, associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, did an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on human brains from birth to adolescence. She concluded, in her book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain,”[0] that there is “surprisingly little solid evidence of sex differences in children’s brains.”

> Sex differences in cognitive abilities have been well-studied, so it’s intriguing that Damore chooses to ignore this vast literature to focus on personality[1]. The reason, however, quickly becomes clear when we look at the evidence: namely, there’s zero evidence that suggests women should make worse programmers.

> There is much literature that flat-out contradicts Baron-Cohen's study, providing evidence that male and female infants tend to respond equally to people and objects, notes Elizabeth Spelke, co-director of Harvard’s Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative[2].




by xenadu02   2017-09-04
Please don't do this. There have been many take-downs of his full document (that include the so-called citations).

The one legit paper he linked to ( didn't reach the conclusion he was claiming. That paper demonstrates that in egalitarian developed societies men are less oppressed by other men, not that there are innate differences. In all cases women's behavior is the result of being oppressed to a greater or lesser degree. In other words in less developed societies many men are just as oppressed by the powerful as women and use the same coping strategies.

He also failed to address the fact that interest doesn't necessarily correlate with ability. Research shows men and women don't differ in empathy unless men know they are being judged, which suggests it is a culturally-imposed trait and definitely not universal.

He makes a lot of assumptions without bothering to explain them, eg: assuming effective meritocracy and blindly ignoring his own caveats, never resolving the conflict with his own arguments. He never once presents ANY evidence that cognitive differences between men/women influence performance in software engineering.

Here are just a few papers:

There are plenty of books and articles on the topic:

One interesting result is if you can get women to picture themselves as men most of the cases where we do see differences disappears, again suggesting the vast majority of differences are cultural:

Honestly it doesn't take much effort to stop with the confirmation bias. Do some actual research on your own and don't just look for sources that reinforce your existing biases.

James Damore wrote a document mostly describing his feelings and sprinkled in a few footnotes to make it look like he had done some research. He is woefully out of date with the current research (because he obviously didn't do any). That's pretty much what everyone does regarding this topic, both on HN and elsewhere.

It has become a demoralizing slog to repeatedly attempt to educate people when they are both a) so ignorant on a topic and b) so absolutely certain they are correct despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I suppose this issue falls into the category of things that "everyone knows" so people Dunning-Kruger themselves into a position without giving it any thought.

The question of whether there are biological differences that make men and women suited for different tasks has been studied for decades. There are mountains of data. Brilliant men and women have written extensively on the topic. For the love of God, please take the time to educate yourself.

Even if you want to cling to the idea that women aren't as suited to programming (despite the evidence to the contrary) you could at least avoid doing an incompetent job by being aware of the research in the field.