Gender Disparities and Differences

Manila Bulletin, April 23, 2005 | Go to article overview

Gender Disparities and Differences


THIS is an old-age issue, a topic which has generated considerable scholarly research and debate across cultures. As shown in some findings, there are physical and psychological attributes which differentiate men and womens responses to the environment. Too, existing structures a perceived maledominated managerial hierarchy, content of media and educational materials are found to have discouraged women from being active, productive, and valued or have reinforced existing cultural stereotypes. A recent concern which should be of interest to us because of our low level of performance in science and mathematics is what has been shown by some observers as the lack of women in science and technology.

This was noted in the Times Magazine issue of March 28 in an article entitled "Who Says a Woman Cant be an Einstein?" This may have been provoked by Harvard University President Larry Summers paper where he tried to explain the gender gap among top tenured science professors in the following: (1) women are just not so interested as men in making the sacrifices required by highpowered jobs; (2) men may have more "intrinsic aptitude" for high-level science; and (3) women may be victims of oldfashioned discrimination. As expected, these remarks were widely criticized by many who even called for his resignation. Just what do some studies reveal? One is that men and women have different brain architectures.

An IQ test showed that women have more connections between the left and right brain hemispheres and tend to use more parts of their brains than do men for the same tasks. This, it was said, may explain why women recover better from a stroke since the healthy parts of their mind compensate for the injured regions. Men, on the other hand, do their thinking in more focused regions of the brain. Another finding shows that brain size peaks around age 11 1/2 for girls, while the peak for boys comes 3 years later. Women are found to have better verbal skills and social sensitivities while mechanical reasoning, visual targeting, and spatial reasoning appeared to mature 4 to 8 years earlier in boys. It was further noted that men and women see totally different things when looking at a landscape. …

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