I don't know about you, but throughout my life I have been puzzled by the behavior of both men and women. When I go to the gym, I am bemused by men's animated conversations about football games and cars, and when I go to the local gift shop, I am equally bemused by women who endlessly discuss how “darling” various ceramic figurines are. I don't think I am alone in finding both men and women somewhat inscrutable, each in their own way. And I'm certainly not alone in pondering the nature and nurture of gender.
Most of us try hard to understand what makes individual boys, girls, men, and women “tick, ” so most of us constantly grapple with gender, either consciously or unconsciously. We live and work and play with members of both sexes, and inevitably, we love and loathe individual males and females. If nothing else, the topic of gender carries immense egocentric appeal, for we all possess gender, in one form or another. And of course, the topic of gender is intimately tied to other favorite topics—like love, sex, and romance. In a more serious and political vein, our personal views of gender are linked to other important attitudes—about affirmative action, sexual harassment, women in the military, and a host of other topics. For all these reasons, gender is a “hot” topic—in everyday conversations, on talk shows, and in popular books.
Gender is also a hot topic among scientists. It has long been the focus of a veritable cottage industry of empirical research in the social and biological sciences. And after decades of concerted effort, scientists now