Sex Differences in Mind: Keeping Science Distinct From Social Policy
Short Title: 
Sex Differences in Mind
Abstract: 

There are interesting differences between the average male and female mind. In using the word average, I am from the outset recognizing that such differences may have little to say about individuals. In addition, the differences are subtle and are to do with the relative proportions of different drives in the typical male and female mind. The field of sex differences in psychology in the 1960s and 1970s was so conflict-ridden as to make an open-minded debate about any potential role of biology contributing to psychological sex differences impossible. Those who explored the role of biology--even while acknowledging the importance of culture--found themselves accused of defending an essentialism that perpetuated inequalities between the sexes, and of oppression. Not a climate in which scientists can ask questions about mechanisms in nature. Today, the pendulum has settled sensibly in the middle of the nature-nurture debate, and scientists who care deeply about ending inequality and oppression can at the same time also talk freely about biological differences between the average male and female brain and mind. My own view is that the field of sex differences in mind needs to proceed in a fashion that is sensitive to this history of conflict by cautiously looking at the evidence and being careful not to overstate what can be concluded. Once again, the evidence says nothing about individuals. As we will see, the data actually require us to look at each individual on his or her own merits, as individuals may or may not be typical for their sex. In this chapter I first look at the evidence from scientific studies of sex differences in the mind. At the end of the chapter, in keeping with the theme of this edited collection, I consider the separate social policy issue of whether, as a society, we can achieve equal representation of women and men in science if we aim to do so.

Author(s): 
Baron-Cohen, Simon
Item Type: 
Book Section
Publication Title: 
Why aren't more women in science?: Top researchers debate the evidence
Publication Date: 
2007
Publication Year: 
2007
Pages: 
159-172
ISBN: 
1-59147-485-X (Hardcover); 978-1-59147-485-2 (Hardcover)
Library Catalog: 
APA PsycNET

Turabian/Chicago Citation

Simon Baron-Cohen. 2007. "Sex Differences in Mind: Keeping Science Distinct From Social Policy." Why aren't more women in science?: Top researchers debate the evidence 159-172.

Wikipedia Citation

<ref> {{Cite journal | doi = | issn = | volume = | pages = 159-172 | last = Baron-Cohen | first = Simon | coauthors = | title = Sex Differences in Mind: Keeping Science Distinct From Social Policy | journal = Why aren't more women in science?: Top researchers debate the evidence | date = 2007 | pmid = | pmc = }} </ref>