I recently came across this article describing a study from a research team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Their hypothesis was that the difference emerges from hormonal differences, specifically testosterone. Not brain wiring.
Using fMRI, the researchers saw that men in the study took several shortcuts, oriented themselves more using cardinal directions and used a different part of the brain than the women in the study. But when women got a drop of testosterone under their tongue, several of them were able to orient themselves better in the four cardinal directions.
I heard this story on NPR and had flashbacks to a similar debate we had decades ago with firefighters. And as with that debate, it frustrated me into a lather just as much now as it did then.
“Some people look at it as a civil rights issue,” says Dober. “I will tell you emphatically and to my grave that it’s not a civil rights issue. It’s a national security issue.”
Actually, it’s both.
There are a lot of ways to interpret this study and I want to touch on one or two of the ones that can be very valuable to HF/E practitioners.
The study looked at how male and female characters were accepted by other players as a function of their conformity with stereotypical gender roles. They used a first-person shooter game and measured acceptance by having these stereotypical players send friend requests to other players and measuring which ones were accepted…
The uneven development of boys and girls in school is a constant source of debate. Are there innate wiring differences that lead them down different paths? Does culture trigger parents and teachers to treat children of different genders in specific ways that cause the differences? It usually turns out to be a constant interaction cycle of nature-nurture-nature-nurture-etc. A recent study adds a step to the nurture side.
For some years now, teachers and parents have noted something about boys and girls…