Both Sides Now

Male Scientist Writes of Life as Female Scientist
Biologist Who Underwent Sex Change Describes Biases Against Women

Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 13, 2006; Page A10

Neurobiologist Ben Barres has a unique perspective on former Harvard president Lawrence Summers's assertion that innate differences between the sexes might explain why many fewer women than men reach the highest echelons of science.

That's because Barres used to be a woman himself.
I was going to add a bunch of stuff from my own head and experiences shared by friends from through the years. Work seems to have thrown my rhythm askew so I'll just rec this article as highly insightful and quite an interesting and nearly unique perspective on the prejudices of even the most highly educated and rationally oriented of folk.

This is definitely another one of those stories which, believe it or not, make me feel better about my emo excursions into shortsightedness. Acknowledging and changing our ways of thinking and seeing the world around us are the keys we've all got to find if we're to truly live in a safe and sane Free World.
Barres and Elizabeth Spelke, a Harvard psychologist who has publicly debated Pinker on the issue, say they have little trouble with the idea that there are differences between the sexes, although some differences, especially among children, involve biases among adults in interpreting the same behavior in boys and girls.

And both argue it is difficult to tease apart nature from nurture. "Does anyone doubt if you study harder you will do better on a test?" Barres asked. "The mere existence of an IQ difference does not say it is innate. . . . Why do Asian girls do better on math tests than American boys? No one thinks they are innately better."

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