Is Google right to say that sex differences don’t exist?

Radical feminists complain a lot about sexism, but damage is self-inflicted
Radical feminists complain a lot about sexism, but damage is self-inflicted

Google recently fired a software engineer who asked them to do a better job of promoting diversity by actually appealing to women’s different needs and desires. He suggested more collaborative coding (“pair programming”) and more part-time work options. Google responded to his suggestions by ejecting him forcibly from their left-wing politically correct echo chamber. Google executives claim that their company is rooted in science. Well, is there a science of sex differences? Who is right?

This article from The Globe and Mail, which is the more leftist of Canada’s two national newspapers, is written by a PhD in the field of sexual neuroscience from York University.

She says:

Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.

As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone – higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations. This is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be dominated by men.

We see evidence for this in girls with a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who are exposed to unusually high levels of testosterone in the womb. When they are born, these girls prefer male-typical, wheeled toys, such as trucks, even if their parents offer more positive feedback when they play with female-typical toys, such as dolls. Similarly, men who are interested in female-typical activities were likely exposed to lower levels of testosterone.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before it’s finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

Her article is filled with linked to peer-reviewed papers, although I removed the links when quoting her article.

She even links to peer-reviewed papers to refute the Google science-deniers:

Many people, including a former Google employee, have attempted to refute the memo’s points, alleging that they contradict the latest research.

I’d love to know what “research done […] for decades” he’s referring to, because thousands of studies would suggest otherwise. A single study, published in 2015, did claim that male and female brains existed along a “mosaic” and that it isn’t possible to differentiate them by sex, but this has been refuted by four – yes, four – academicstudies since.

This includes a study that analyzed the exact same brain data from the original study and found that the sex of a given brain could be correctly identified with 69-per-cent to 77-per-cent accuracy.

[…]Contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.

I think the key point in this debate is one that the author makes herself: women ought to be able to find ways to study and work on things that are interesting to them. Of course some jobs pay more than others because they are more productive, and of course we should make women aware of the consequences of studying nonsense subjects that don’t pay. We don’t want women running up student loans they’ll never pay back, then defaulting on them and passing the costs off to taxpayers. But we shouldn’t try to push women into STEM jobs by watering down the requirements of those jobs – that just treats the people who can do the jobs very unfairly.

In my own case, I prefer women who do have STEM degrees and STEM work experience, but that’s because I think that STEM education and work experience grinds out some of the characteristics of women that make them bad partners for goal-directed men like myself. I have every reason for wanting more women in STEM, but I want them to do it honestly. I want them to be treated fairly, and not get a whole bunch of advantages in education and the workplace just because they are women.

4 thoughts on “Is Google right to say that sex differences don’t exist?”

  1. Some other sources that reviewed the data, I’ve come across following this story:

    most detailed analysis I’ve seen direct response to the claims
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/

    No analysis but very useful long list of primary sources that are organized into categories in the description field of the Jordan Peterson’s interview with the guy Google fired.

    Quillette 4 scientists saying he got the sci right
    https://archive.is/VlNfl

    Psychology Today generally confirms the doc’s factual claims, questions the applicability of the data, but doesn’t do a good job
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexual-personalities/201708/google-memo-about-sex-differences

    A Psyc Today article taking a systemic look at sex diffs but not in response to Google
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexual-personalities/201502/how-big-are-psychological-sex-differences

    Stanford Medicine: over the past 15 years or so, there’s been a sea change as new technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.
    http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html

  2. I’ve come to enjoy reading this blog. In the current offering, I couldn’t help but notice two items that should be fodder for some extended debate. My first observation is that our author is quoting research that seems to indicate a significant role for testosterone in the uterus in establishing a person’s inclination to do masculine or feminine activities once they ate born. Has this settled the issue for him regarding whether homosexuality is learned or innate?

    Second, our blogger had better find for himself some virtual armor for the push back he’s going to get for this: “…I think that STEM education and work experience grinds out some of the characteristics of women that make them bad partners for goal-directed men like myself.”

    1. I was just staying over at the house of a married couple I am friends with. One of their sons married an artist, and she was terrible at making plans for the wedding, she just wanted to go with the flow and decide in the moment based on her feelings. Needless to say, his parents ended up doing everything and they had to pay a lot to get a wedding venue on short notice. A woman who has had to produce working code (for example) over and over for clients is more reliable.

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