Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pink vs. Blue

The discussion about boys and girls being different continues over at Running Scared. The comments carry the discussion a little further.

So what am I on about? The idea that men and women aren't the same. The original impetus was a statement by Lawrence Summers of Harvard that women's and men's brains have fundamental differences. The other of the Herald's article jumps right from there to point out immediate physical differences. OK, the physical differences exist. No one can reasonably argue that. What really has women up in arms about this whole thing, I think, is that we can't stand to hear that men are better than us at math.

In the comments of his post, Jazz says
"A difference in how people best learn is still a difference in their mental structure, no? The example is not meant to say that women are intrinsically worse at math and science. It only says that they score more poorly on tests. This could easily be explained by a fundamental difference in their brains and the fact that normal school environments are competitive in nature."
I felt the need to answer.

To my way of thinking, structure is not the same thing as potential. I know that at math and science I rock. Call me arrogant, but I know that. I work in a technical field, and it's true, I'm surrounded by more men than women, but I know that I'm good at what I do, and so do they. I think that's why it bothers me personally to hear that "girls aren't good at math". It's because I am, and it makes me wonder if that means that I've got a different kind of brain, and that's a *really* uncomfortable feeling. So, what I maintain is just because we learn it at a different pace (boys - reading, girls - math) doesn't mean that we don't eventually reach the same levels, in accordance with our personal aptitudes.

Does that make sense to anyone else? What I'm trying to say is that each of us as an individual has a certain level of potential as to what we can learn. Some will excel at philosophy, some will excel at physics. Some will always be able to tell how other people are feeling, some will be able to understand how to build a structure with maximum support. The amount of time you take to reach that potential varies by individual as much as the potential itself. And while men's and women's brains may process items differently, that doesn't mean that those items won't both eventually be processed by both kinds of brains.

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