Could this be true?

19 Jan 2005 - 12:33am
9 years ago
11 replies
478 reads
Listera
2004

We know that Americans are better designers [1]. But is it also the case
that men are better designers than women? Ponder this:

The president of Harvard University has caused a stir among academics by
suggesting women have less "innate ability" at science and maths than men.

Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers argued one group outperformed
the other because of genetics, not just experience, the Boston Globe said.

Several guests walked out of a conference after hearing the comments.

Dr Summers said later that the shortage of senior female academics was
partly because of child-minding duties.

<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4183495.stm>

Of the designers you admire how many are female?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

[1] You know it's true. :-)

Comments

19 Jan 2005 - 12:37am
Donna Maurer
2003

Steven Johnson wrote a good blog post about this one:

http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/movabletype/archives/000228.html

At 04:33 PM 1/19/2005, you wrote:
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>We know that Americans are better designers [1]. But is it also the case
>that men are better designers than women? Ponder this:
>
>The president of Harvard University has caused a stir among academics by
>suggesting women have less "innate ability" at science and maths than men.

-------------------------------------------------
Donna Maurer
Usability Specialist
Step Two Designs Pty Ltd
Knowledge Management / Content Management / Intranets

http://www.steptwo.com.au/
donna at steptwo.com.au
(02) 6162 6307

19 Jan 2005 - 4:50am
Jean-Marc Dubois
2005

Hi all,

I have no figures at hand, but if this statement by Steven Johnson
(http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/movabletype/archives/000228.html) "boys
tend to engage more with inanimate objects, girls with people and animals"
is true, then there should be more males than females in engineering and
less males than females in medical career.

I think that this is true if you evaluate male nurses / female nurses ratio,
but not if you only look at medical doctors...

In my point of view, there is nothing innate in this, this is only the
effects of education and social pressure.

The only way to really know what comes from genes and what comes from
education is to plan some psychological experiment. Could this be done
ethically ? No. So we can try to use ethnography, which is more
controversial (there are more bias).

Here is a first observation: I have three children, two girls and a boy, who
is the youngest. My daughters almost never played with car toys, my son do
so very often.

So... Steven Johnson's statement is right.

Er, sorry... I have to admit that we did not have car toys at home until my
boy was 1 year old...

So Steven Johnson's statement may be true, but it does not proove at all
that genes are at work.

Jean-Marc Dubois
DCAM - Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2
www.dcam.u-bordeaux2.fr
tel : (+33 | 0)5 57 57 17 05

19 Jan 2005 - 1:30pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

JMD> So Steven Johnson's statement may be true, but it does not proove at all
JMD> that genes are at work.

Correction: not genes, but hormones.

There have been psychological studies of people preparing for sex
change (both directions), that involves intensive hormone therapy
for about 6-8 month. The researchers did a series of comprehensive
perceptual tests before and after the therapy: spatial perception,
linguistic perception, social perception, and so on. Women treated
with testosterone showed significant increase in performance of visual
and spatial tests after the treatment. Similarly, men treated with
estrogen, showed increase in scores on social perception and
'practicality' tests, compared with their own results before the
treatment.

I don't have that reference, but it was a series of programs on BBC a
few years ago.

That doesn't mean that men are better designers. That means that men
on average are better at designing cool abstract visual things
that poorly fit into the realities of daily life :-)

Lada

20 Jan 2005 - 4:36am
Jean-Marc Dubois
2005

Hello,

Lada wrote
> There have been psychological studies of people preparing for sex
> change (both directions), that involves intensive hormone therapy
> for about 6-8 month. The researchers did a series of comprehensive
> perceptual tests before and after the therapy: spatial perception,
> linguistic perception, social perception, and so on.

>From your statement, we cannot infer that the hormones are acting on these
changes, this can be a purely matter of psychology: those people were
starting something they wanted (and maybe needed) since many years. So we
cannot forget psychology here.

If you want to prove the effects of hormones in such cases, you have to set
up a real clinical hormones therapy experiment, that is some people will get
hormones, some will get placebo, and neither those people, neither their
doctors know who gets placebo.

If people treated with hormones show the changes and not those treated with
placebo, then you may be right (those results are always probabilities).

Until such experiment his done, and well done (remember vioxx?), we cannot
say such changes are due to hormones. By the way, this sort of experiments
usually requires many participants, I'm confident the one you relate have
not enough people.

I don't want to tell genes are not at work, neither that hormones cannot
have such effects. But there is another explanation, which is the social
pressure (men have to behave that way, women this one, bla bla bla). We are
all responsible of social pressure (in democracy at least).

So when someone says "this is innate", "this is hormones work", it's just a
way to be unfair with women (or with men), while claiming he is not.

Back to the observations I proposed to list: in Olympic Games, women records
are always below men records. But how many men in this list can compete with
those women, and even with less less less good female competitors, which
perform in competitions below national level?

So are men faster, stronger... than female?

Jean-Marc Dubois

20 Jan 2005 - 12:04pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Jean-Marc Dubois writes:

<<If you want to prove the effects of hormones in such cases, you have to
set
up a real clinical hormones therapy experiment, that is some people will
get
hormones, some will get placebo, and neither those people, neither their
doctors know who gets placebo.>>

True enough for *proving* the effects, but hypotheses are developed in
exactly this way.

For ten years my late husband took hormone therapy for prostate cancer,
and we both noticed a change in him. The changes were evident both in his
behavior and (from his perspective) in how he felt. The PCa support group
to which I subscribed for several years was full of stories from and about
men who experienced the same thing. My gynecologist says she hears many
stories of women who feel less alert and less verbally sharp as they get
older and that hormone replacement therapy is a huge help with this.

We can't prove anything from a collection of anecdotes, but we can develop
some pretty good suspicions. :-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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20 Jan 2005 - 1:25pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

I wrote:

<<The PCa support group
to which I subscribed for several years was full of stories from and about

men who experienced the same thing.>>

They often joked that they had started asking directions. :-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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21 Jan 2005 - 3:39am
Jean-Marc Dubois
2005

Hello,

Listera wrote
> It *is* a fact that women give birth
Which is perfectly true.

> and take care of children.
Which is mostly true all over the world, but except for breast feeding, men
can take care of children just like women. So this is a social fact, and
societies can change it, if they want.

I think that northern european countries took also this into account when
they have organised things to help mothers be mothers and stay workers (see
Alain Vailancourt post).

Jean-Marc Dubois

21 Jan 2005 - 7:38am
Tadej Maligoj
2004

In Slovenia we have a generous politics for parents. Mother gets one
year (365 days) of baby care vacation with income of her last some
year's average.
Only first 100 days of these vacation must be spent by mother. All
others can take a father. Because my wife is a freelancer and by that
time I was working in the company, I did take that 9 months and also
did help with baby care.

I advise it to all fathers. Those were high times.

By the way, beside this regular baby care vacation (usualy taken by
mothers), father has the right to take 15 days off (with regular
income) during the first year and another 75 days to the child's age
of ten when only social security is paid.

Tadej

On Fri, 21 Jan 2005 09:39:46 +0100, Jean-Marc Dubois
<Jean-Marc.Dubois at dcam.u-bordeaux2.fr> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hello,
>
> Listera wrote
> > It *is* a fact that women give birth
> Which is perfectly true.
>
> > and take care of children.
> Which is mostly true all over the world, but except for breast feeding, men
> can take care of children just like women. So this is a social fact, and
> societies can change it, if they want.
>
> I think that northern european countries took also this into account when
> they have organised things to help mothers be mothers and stay workers (see
> Alain Vailancourt post).
>
>
> Jean-Marc Dubois
>
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--
_______________________________
Tadej Maligoj, Information Architect
e1: tadej.maligoj at gmail.com
e2: studio at maligoj.com
m: 031 306 986
w: www.maligoj.com

28 Jan 2005 - 4:11pm
cfmdesigns
2004

From: Listera <listera at rcn.com>

>We know that Americans are better designers [1]. But is it also the case
>that men are better designers than women? Ponder this:

I would accept that Americans are typically better designers for
products and services aimed at largely American audiences. And
likewise, men for male-aimed stuff. (And vice-versa, of course, in
both cases.)
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 01/12)

28 Jan 2005 - 4:37pm
Jonathan Grubb
2004

>>We know that Americans are better designers [1]. But is it also the case
>>that men are better designers than women? Ponder this:

>I would accept that Americans are typically better designers for
>products and services aimed at largely American audiences. And
>likewise, men for male-aimed stuff. (And vice-versa, of course, in
>both cases.)

While this is and interesting idea, I can't think of an instance where it is
provably true. In the US, cars designed by non-Americans consistently sell
better than those designed by Americans. Americans love Ikea furniture and
Sony electronics. The most sought after American women's clothing is
designed by Italian men.

The ability to design for an audience depends on understanding that
audience, not necessarily being a member of it.

29 Jan 2005 - 4:00pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Jonathan Grubb <jgrubb at yahoo-inc.com> a écrit :

> While this is and interesting idea, I can't think of an instance
where it is provably true. In the US, cars designed by non-Americans
consistently sell better than those designed by Americans. Americans
love Ikea furniture and Sony electronics. The most sought after
American women's clothing is designed by Italian men.
>
> The ability to design for an audience depends on understanding that
> audience, not necessarily being a member of it.
>

Yes! And I would add that this requires a considerable amount of
constant, unlagging effort, something which many designers and/or
companies are unwilling or unable of doing.

For instance, some car companies are unable or unwilling to put the
constant effort needed to design and redesign cup-holders for cars
destined for the US market. They snort: Cup-holders! For them it is a
joke. How can something like a cup holder be important in a car? You
drive a car, and that's it. At least that's it in their culture.

After several generations some non-US companies have gotten it. Others
have still not gotten it.

The same is true in the other direction. So many US products have
flunked outside the US because they were designed without much care for
the peculiar aspects of any given outside market. US carmakers
obstinately sent cars with a left hand drive to Japan, oblivious to the
importance of selling cars with right hand drives in that market. BMW,
several years ago, made a big marketing push in Japan and sent them
cars with right hand drives. As a result they were one of the first
occidental car companies to become really popular in the Japanese
market.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

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