Nov 28, 2021Liked by Leah Libresco Sargeant

Your observations unpack a recurring one of mine: that I have certain traits that seem to be more common in men than in women, or at least are more commonly associated with maleness (e.g. being highly logical and rational, being highly opinionated and quick to contradict, being competitive in games), though I have never had any inclination not to self-identify as female. This has long suggested to me what would appear to be confirmed by Clearer Thinking's analysis: that a) there are some tendencies that are broadly gender-based (as you say, in the aggregate), and b) these tendencies are not rigid and absolute. It also explains why I've never identified with types of feminism that indulge in male-bashing: I hear people denigrate "male" left-brained rationality, or "male" competitiveness as inferior to "female" compassion, and it hits a little close to home.

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Nov 12, 2021Liked by Leah Libresco Sargeant

This is a minor point of detail, but it is frustratingly hard to conclude on the comparative distributions here because the data is so skewed to the upper end of a truncated range. I look at that graph and really want to have the compassion axis go to +6! With a range of -3 to +3, you don't want the median to be +2.5. (Acknowledging of course that creating the survey that gives this may be practically impossible.)

To make an analogy, it's like creating a graph of human height with a range of 5' to 6'. It would tell you a lot, but also leave out a lot.

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This is really good. I find this to be a helpful model of what I see around me, starting with the infants I babysit: there are personality differences between men and women in general, but lots of overlap too. I think data like this can help people understand that people who have the same gender as them but very different personalities are just as male/ female as they are. Or the other way around: that people who have been bruised by insensitive comments stemming from gender stereotypes can understand where it comes from--an explanation is not an excuse, but it can change how one views the hurt. And I also believe it is important to take the (general) differences into account when working or communicating with people of the opposite gender, to keep honest misunderstandings from escalating into hard feelings.

So the first time I did it I got a 66% chance of being a guy. Before entirely discarding the study as grossly inaccurate, I tried it again, softening my negative traits compared to the first round, and got 83% chance of being female. This got me reflecting on the weakness of the test: there is no way to get truly objective answers. If someone tends to see themselves in a negative light, their answers will skew accordingly. Or vice versa: someone may feel that their strengths lie in a certain area, while others in their life would disagree. Third parties may even have contradictory opinions on the same person--it happens! The creators of the test have certainly considered this and note that this is self-reported data only, but I wonder how the results would differ if it were possible to get a truly objective opinion on how a certain person behaved compared to other people. I guess we'll never know!

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One question I always have about surveys like this is - how were folks recruited? I didn't see that information on Clearer Thinking's site for the 15 studies they ran to get the results. You can imagine if you surveyed folks who are part of religious communities that prize conformity to gender norms you'd get a different set of self reported responses than folks who exclusively identify as humanists or 'progressives'. What would the different responses across different identity groups indicate about what gender *is*?

On bias and the workplace, eliminating gender bias doesn't *really* have much to do with ways men and women differ in aggregate in my opinion. Just like like eliminating racial bias doesn't have much at all to do with cultural differences.

From Nordell's piece -

"Insisting on fair, transparent and objective criteria for promotions and assignments is essential, so that decisions are not ambiguous and subjective, and goal posts aren’t shifting and unwritten."

And as she goes on to describe, that only matters if there is a real leadership commitment to diversity and mitigating bias of all sorts (since leaders can always bypass process).

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I really, really wish there were more understanding in the larger society of how much overlap there is between "male" and "female" characteristics.

I think the meaning of gender is about 90% philosophy anyway—you feel what you feel and experience what you experience it, and how much of that is considered to relate to "gender" (as opposed to just, say, individual personality) changes wildly over time. I really hate the philosophy we're currently operating under, where practically everything is gendered.

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I got the 72% as well. I'd say that the results don't surprise me, insofar as my awareness of traits being found more likely in men as compared to women, but that there need not be any stereotyping, but just awareness.

My perspective comes from my basic understanding of the Meyers Briggs, extraversion v. introversion, thinking v. feeling, as they exist among women and men.

Certain traits might be more common than women than among men, but that doesn't obviate either sex having those traits.

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