News, Opinions, and Blog Posts

The sociological religion of no biological differences between the sexes

—by Jerry Coyne, in Why Evolution Is True

tags: +gender_differences +sociology

“Yet the idea that males and females show evolutionary/genetic differences in behavior is also anathema in liberal academia, and for the same reason that population differences are anathema. Such differences, so the thinking goes, would support either racism (on the part of populations) or sexism (on the part of males and females). But of course that thinking is false: we can accept evolved differences without turning them into social policy.” 

“…what’s clear even without this analysis is that it’s taboo in much of academia to suggest that measurable differences between populations or sexes (excluding the most obvious physical differences) have any biological basis. But there should be no taboos in academics.” 

“…its findings are consistent with an image of gender sociology as a subfield that has insulated its sacred beliefs from important scientific challenges.”–Charlotta Stern

The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap

—by Stephen J. Dubner, interviewing Claudia Goldin for Freakonomics

tags: +interview +gender +pay_gap +temporal_flexibility

“Does that mean that women are receiving lower pay for equal work? That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large it’s not that, it’s something else.” –Claudia Goldin

“If you take women who don’t have caregiving obligations, they’re almost equal with men. It’s somewhere in the 95 percent range.” –Anne-Marie Slaughter

“By and large, it appears that there’s just a very high cost of temporal flexibility in certain occupations.” –Claudia Goldin

Debate: Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke

—at Harvard

tags: +sex_differences +gender +debate +stem

Note: The speakers discussed research on mind, brain, and behavior that may be relevant to gender disparities in the sciences, including the studies of gender bias, discrimination, and innate and acquired differences between the sexes.

We built voice modulation to mask gender in technical interviews. Here’s what happened.

—by Aline Lerner, at

tags: +voice_modulation +gender_bias +tech +hiring

“In short, we made men sound like women and women sound like men and looked at how that affected their interview performance… Contrary to what we expected, masking gender had no effect on interview performance with respect to any of the scoring criteria (would advance to next round, technical ability, problem solving ability).”

I get pushback on the sexual-selection theory for sexual dimorphism

—by Jerry Coyne, in Why Evolution Is True

tags: +gender_differences +sexual_dimorphism +sexual_selection

The evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans: Part 2

—by Jerry Coyne, in Why Evolution Is True

tags: +gender_differences +sexual_dimorphism +sexual_selection

Genders Differ Dramatically in Evolved Mate Preferences

—by Rachel Griess, in UT News

tags: +gender +sex +sex_preference +gender_preference +mate_preference

“The study of 4,764 men and 5,389 women in 33 countries and 37 cultures showed that sex differences in mate preferences are much larger than previously appreciated and stable across cultures. ‘Many want to believe that women and men are identical in their underlying psychology, but the genders differ strikingly in their evolved mate preferences in some domains,'”

“Researchers found that they could predict a person’s sex with 92.2 percent accuracy if they knew his or her mate preferences.”

Gender equity can cause sex differences to grow bigger

—by Rob Brooks, at

tags: +sex_differences +gender_equity +bigger

“Yes, but…” Answers to Ten Common Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology

—by David P. Schmitt, in The Evolution Institute

tags: +blog +ten_answers +evo_psych

“Buss and Barnes were among the first to evaluate whether women (more than men) prefer cues related to a man’s ability and willingness to devote resources. For instance, they found women more strongly prefer long-term mates who have a ‘good earning capacity’ (a large sex difference, d = -0.82), ‘are a college graduate’ (d = -0.60), and ‘possess intelligence’ (d = -0.19).”

Explaining Gender Differences at the Top

—by Gino and Brooks, in Harvard Business Review

tags: +advancement +life_goals +gender_differences

“In one study, we asked almost 800 employed individuals to list their core life goals… Compared to men, women listed more goals, and a smaller proportion of women’s goals were related to achieving power. These findings dovetailed with the results of prior research that, relative to women, men are more motivated by power. These differences contribute to men holding higher leadership positions than women. Meanwhile, women tend to be more motivated by affiliation — the desire for warm, close relationships with others — than men, research finds.”  

“Compared to men, women view advancement as equally attainable but less desirable”  

Where Are All the Women? What’s keeping women out of science? Is it discrimination…or something else?

—by Steve Stewart-Williams, in Psychology Today

tags: +sex_differences +gender_differences +equity +steve_stuart_williams +stem

Note: Part 1 of 3

Affirmative Action for Women in Science?

—by Steve Stewart-Williams, in Psychology Today

tags: +sex_differences +gender_differences +equity +steve_stuart_williams +stem

Note: Part 2 of 3

Sex Differences: Proof of Sexism or a Sign of Social Health?

—by Steve Stewart-Williams, in Psychology Today

tags: +sex_differences +gender_differences +equity +steve_stuart_williams +stem

Note: Part 3 of 3

Turns Out That the Husband’s Job Is Probably the Best Predictor of Divorce

—by Drake Baer, in New York Magazine

tags: +divorce +marriage +sex_selection

Note: The risk of divorce increases substantially when the husband isn’t employed full-time.

We’re Not Quite ‘Born This Way’

—by Jesse Singal, in New York Magazine

tags: +homosexuality +genes +heritability

“For boys, this means that if a child enjoys cross-dressing, playing with dolls, growing their hair long, preferring girls as playmates, and so on, then — true to stereotype — there’s a significantly increased chance that he will grow up to be gay.”  

“Research indicates that heterosexual men have greater interest in occupations and hobbies focusing on things and less interest in those focusing on people, compared with heterosexual women.”  

“Gay men are more into people-things than their straight brothers and dad, while gay women are more into object-things than their straight sisters and moms.”  

“The best evidence for a nature-over-nurture explanation of sexuality comes from an accidental quasi-experiment involving surgically removed penises…Of the seven, they found, six of the unfortunate subjects came to eventually identify as heterosexual males at the time they were followed up with; the seventh still identified as female and said she was “predominately” into women.”

Infants show a preference for toys that ‘match’ their gender before they know what gender is

—by Christian Jarrett, in BPS Research Digest

tags: +gender_preferences +toy_preference +gendered_play +sex_differences

“The results, though they come with caveats, appear to support the notion that boys and girls display gender-typed preferences before they are old enough to be aware of gender and even in the absence of their parents, who might otherwise influence them to play in a gender-stereotyped fashion.”

How sex hormones help scientists understand gender differences in mental health disorders

—by Lea Surugue, in International Business Times

tags: +transgender +brain +hormones +testosterone

“A range of findings based on the observation of their brains have now been published in different scientific journals.”  

“They showed that gender identity is reflected in the brain, with masculine or feminine sex hormones – whether produced naturally or given artificially to transsexuals – influencing its structure. ‘We were able to demonstrate the effect of hormones on language processing, on functions such as risk-taking behaviour, spatial cognition and impulsiveness, as well as on structural brain connections between female and male subjects'”

Nordic countries: Highest in gender equality and intimate partner violence against women


tags: +intimate_partner_violence +domestic_violence +nordic +gender_equality +gender_equity

“The Nordic countries are the most gender equal nations in the world, but at the same time, they also have a disproportionately high rate of intimate partner violence against women. This is perplexing because logically violence against women would be expected to drop as women gained equal status in a society. A new study explores this contradictory situation, which has been labeled the Nordic paradox.”  

It’s now possible, in theory, to predict life success from a genetic test at birth

—by Stuart Ritchie, in BPS Research Digest

tags: +polygenic_scoring +intelligence

Note: Nice post on the power of polygenic predictors

A-level subject choice is strongly influenced by genes, scientists say

—by Nicola Davis, in The Guardian

tags: +genes +choice +interest

“Up to 80% of subject choice could be down to genetic influence, making the argument for a more personalised approach to education, say scientists”

Intelligence Research: 50 Years of Satisfaction

—by Douglass Detterman,

tags: +intelligence

Why are Stereotype-Threat Effects on Women’s Math Performance Difficult to Replicate?

—by Ulrich Schimmack, at Replicability-Index Blog

tags: +replicability_index +stereotype_threat

“The replicability analysis of Spencer, Steele, and Quinn (1999) suggests that the original data provided inflated estimates of effect sizes and replicability. Thus, the R-Index predicts that exact replication studies would fail to replicate the effect.”  

“In sum, the main conclusions that one can draw from 15 years of stereotype-threat research is that (a) the real reasons for gender differences in math performance are still unknown, (b) resources have been wasted in the pursuit of a negligible factor that may contribute to gender differences in math performance under very specific circumstances, and (c) that the R-Index could have prevented the irrational exuberance about stereotype-threat as a simple solution to an important social issue.  

Why Parenting May Not Matter and Why Most Social Science Research is Probably Wrong

—by Brian Boutwell, in Quillette

tags: +parenting +genes +hbd +boutwell +good_links +genetics +twin_study

Analysis of 5,000 forgotten rape kits reveals unexpectedly high number of serial rapists

—by Will Worley, in The Independent

tags: +rape +serial_rapists +rape_kit

“Of 243 sexual assaults studied, 51 per cent were tied to serial offenders, who tended to have more extensive and violent criminal histories than one-off sexual offenders. “

Why race as a biological construct matters

—by Razib Khan, in Discover Magazine

tags: +blog_post +biological_race

“First, you see a PCA plot… When you take multiple dimensions and transpose the data geometrically you quickly see population structure fall out of the data set. Notice above that the first dimension of variation (PC1) separates the Europeans from all the African populations. The second dimension of variation (PC2) separates the hunter-gatherer populations of Africa from the agriculturalists.”

The breeder’s equation

—by West Hunter, in

tags: +hbd +breeders_equation

Big summary post on the hajnal line

—by hbdchick, in

tags: +hbd +hajnal_line +hbdchick

The Real War on Science

—by John Tierney, in City Journal

tags: +opinion

Note: Written prior to Trump victory

“There’s always an apocalypse requiring the expansion of state power.”  

“To preserve their integrity, scientists should avoid politics and embrace the skeptical rigor that their profession requires. They need to start welcoming conservatives and others who will spot their biases and violate their taboos.”

Will the Left Survive the Millennials?

—by Lionel Shriver, in NYTimes

tags: +opinion

Legislation Won’t Close Gender Gap in Sciences

—by John Tierney, in NYTimes

tags: +opinions

Research, Data, and Reports

Darwinian sex roles confirmed across the animal kingdom

—by Janicke, Haderer, Lajeunesse, and Anthes, in Science Advances, 2016

tags: +sex_selection +animals

“We demonstrate that, across the animal kingdom, sexual selection, as captured by standard Bateman metrics, is indeed stronger in males than in females and that it is evolutionarily tied to sex biases in parental care and sexual dimorphism. Our findings provide the first comprehensive evidence that Darwin’s concept of conventional sex roles is accurate and refute recent criticism of sexual selection theory.”

The Evolution of Culturally-Variable Sex Differences: Men and Women Are Not Always Different, but When They Are…It Appears Not to Result from Patriarchy or Sex Role Socialization

—by David Schmitt, a chapter in The Evolution of Sexuality

tags: +gender_differences +gender_equality +sex_differences

Note: Empirically, sex differences in most psychological traits—in personality, sexuality, attitudes, emotions, behaviors, and cognitive abilities—are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity.

How Sexually Dimorphic Are Human Mate Preferences?

—by Conroy-Beam, Buss, Pham, Shackelford, in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

tags: +mate_selection +sex_differences

Yes, there is a female and a male brain: Morphology versus functionality

—by Glezerman, in PNAS

tags: +sex_differences +brain +brain_function

“Functionally, brains of women and men are indeed different.”

“The male brain is exposed to a completely different hormonal environment during intrauterine life than the female brain. The available scientific data as to the crucial effect of testosterone on the developing male brain is overwhelming”

“Most functional differences of our bodily systems are controlled by our functionally different brains, and yes, there is a female and a male brain. “

Intrasexual Competition Shapes Men’s Anti-Utilitarian Moral Decisions

—by Tremoliere, Kaminski, Bonnefon, in Evolutionary Psychological Science

tags: +intrasexual_competition

Note: Moral decision making study finds men willing to sacrifice 3 hypothetical men for every woman of reproductive value. Question: How does this compare with the common claim that men value women less than they value men?

Prenatal Hormones and Postnatal Socialization by Parents as Determinants of Male-Typical Toy Play in Girls With Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

—by Pasterski, Geffner, Brain, Hindmarsh, Brook, Hines, in Child Development

tags: +gendered_play

Note: girls exposed to large doses of prenatal androgen later play with boys toys

A Sex Difference in the Predisposition for Physical Competition: Males Play Sports Much More than Females Even in the Contemporary U.S

—by Deaner, Geary, Puts, Ham, Kruger, Fles, Winegard, Grandis, in PLOS ONE

tags: +title_ix +sports +gender_differences +sex_differences

“Although our findings contradict the popular claim that there is no substantial sex difference in sports interest, they are in agreement with previous empirical studies of sports participation. Whether measuring duration or frequency, these studies consistently find that males play sports, especially team sports, at least twice as much females do, and often much more frequently. This is the case with children in Australia, teens in Canada, children in Denmark, teens and adults in England, and children, teens and adults in Ireland.”

Sexual dimorphism in gene expression and regulatory networks across human tissues

—by Chen, Lopes-Ramos, Kuijjer, Paulson, Sonawane, Fagny, Platig, Glass, Quackenbush, DeMeo, in bioRxiv

tags: +sexual_dimorphism +genes +gene_expression

“We observed sexually dimorphic patterns of gene expression involving as many as 60% of autosomal genes, depending on the tissue.”

Do Women Prefer Female Bosses?

—by Artz, Taengnoi, in Labour Economics

tags: +gender +workplace +boss +intrasexual_competition +female_intrasexual_competition

“In two US datasets, female job satisfaction is lower under female supervision.”  

“Male job satisfaction is unaffected by the gender of the boss.”  

“The results remain after controlling for a host of relevant observable factors.”  

“Notably the results also persist after controlling for worker-in-job fixed effects.”  

The coordinated condemnation model of women’s intrasexual competition

—by Ayers, as CSU Fullerton Dissertation

tags: +female_intrasexual_competition +cleavage

“I manipulated the amount of cleavage shown in an image across two conditions and asked women to rate her on various characteristics. Using a large and diverse sample of women (N = 732), I documented that participants shown the target image with visible cleavage perceived her more negatively than participants shown the target image with a modesty panel, even in domains seemingly unrelated to physical attractiveness and mating.”  

Blind men prefer a low waist-to-hip ratio

—by Karremans, Frankenhuis, Arons, in Evolution and Human Behavior

tags: +waist_to_hip_ratio +blind

“We report evidence showing that congenitally blind men, without previous visual experience, exhibit a preference for low female [waist to hip ratios] when assessing female body shapes through touch, as do their sighted counterparts. This finding shows that a preference for low WHR can develop in the complete absence of visual input and, hence, that such input is not necessary for the preference to develop.”  

High Status Men (But Not Women) Capture the Eye of the Beholder

—by DeWall and Maner, in Evolutionary Psychology (2008)

tags: +gender_differences +sex_differences +high_status +beauty

“Results from two experiments provided consistent evidence that perceivers vigilantly attended to men displaying cues to high social status. In contrast, we found no evidence that high status women captured attention. Taken together, these findings suggest that high status men (but not women) capture attention, particularly under conditions of limited attentional capacity.”  

“Although attention was not captured by high status women, it was captured by women who were physically attractive. This is consistent with a large body of literature suggesting that attractive women are preferred as mating partners (by men) and serve as potent intrasexual rivals (for other women).”  

The Science on Women in Science

—Editor: Christina Hoff Sommers in AEI

tags: +report

National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2:1 Faculty Preference for Women on STEM Tenure Track

—by Williams and Ceci in PNAS

tags: +research +gender_differences +stem

Does the Implicit Bias Test Predict Discriminatory Behavior?

—by Richard Johnson, in Dolan Consulting Group

tags: +iat

An examination of stereotype threat effects on girls’ mathematics performance

—by Ganley, Mingle, Ryan, Ryan, Vasilyeva, Perry in Developmental Psychology (2010)

tags: +stereotype_threat +gender_differences +math

Note: For sum of three studies, n=931.

“Across studies, we found no evidence that the mathematics performance of school-age girls was impacted by stereotype threat. In 2 of the studies, there were gender differences on the mathematics assessment regardless of whether stereotype threat was activated.”  

Does stereotype threat influence performance of girls in stereotyped domains? A meta-analysis

—by Flore and Wicherts, in Journal of School Psychology

tags: +stereotype_threat +gender_differences +math +meta_analysis

“We conclude that publication bias might seriously distort the literature on the effects of stereotype threat among schoolgirls.”

Do performance avoidance goals moderate the effect of different types of stereotype threat on women’s math performance?

—by Finnigan and Corker in Journal of Research in Personality

tags: +stereotype_threat +math +gender

“We conclude that effects of stereotype threat might be smaller than typically reported and find limited evidence for moderation by avoidance achievement goals. Accordingly, stereotype threat might not be a major part of the explanation for the gender gap in math performance, consistent with recent meta-analyses. ”

Predicting educational achievement from DNA

—by Selzam, Krapohl, von Stumm, O’Reilly, Rimfeld, Kovas, Dale4, Lee, and Plomin in Molecular Psychology

tags: +genes +g +intelligence +educational_achievement

Educational attainment and personality are genetically intertwined

—by Mottus, Realo, Vainik, Allik, and Esko, in bioRxiv

tags: +intelligence +heritability +education

Note: Estonian analysis shows known DNA variants explain 17% of the variance in educational attainment.

Males Can Benefit from Sexual Cannibalism Facilitated by Self-Sacrifice

—by Schwartz, Wagner, Hebets in Current Biology (2016)

tags: +sex_differences +mating_strategy

Note: Porn for voraphiles; nightmares for the rest of us. Basically, males can achieve greater reproductive success by letting themselves be devoured by their mate — and the benefit is more than just calories.

Genes, Evolution and Intelligence

—by Bouchard, in Behavior Genetics (2014)

tags: +genes +evolution +intelligence

Note: Good article.

Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics

—by Plomin, DeFries, Knopik, and Neiderhiser, in Perspectives on Psychological Science

tags: +behavioral_genetics +replicate

“In the context of current concerns about replication in psychological science, we describe 10 findings from behavioral genetic research that have replicated robustly. These are “big” findings, both in terms of effect size and potential impact on psychological science, such as linearly increasing heritability of intelligence from infancy (20%) through adulthood (60%). Four of our top 10 findings involve the environment, discoveries that could have been found only with genetically sensitive research designs. We also consider reasons specific to behavioral genetics that might explain why these findings replicate.”  

New trends in gender and mathematics performance: a meta-analysis.

—by Lindberg, Hyde, and Petersen, in 2010

tags: +gender +math +variance_ratio +greater_male_variability

Note: n=1.2 million, and VR = 1.08 is greater than 1, so this supports greater male variability hypothesis. Also, not sure if VR changes as kids age.

“…if true, [the greater variability hypothesis’ could partially account for findings of an excess of males at very high levels of mathematical performance”

Genetic Influence on Human Psychological Traits


tags: +survey +psych_traits +genes