There’s been quite the furore recently pertaining to gender, be it discussions about equality, differences or sameness. A recent BBC documentary (I use the word ‘documentary’ tentatively) jumps right in the middle of this debate and tries to rubbish the concept of inherent gender differences in behaviour, using children as lab rats to prove it. Who cares psychologists have a responsibility to protect their participants from harm?
The first half of the documentary, titled ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ (could they have picked a more ominous sounding title?), aired last Wednesday and to be quite honest, it’s sixty minutes of anti-biology, cultural-Marxist, pseudoscience.
So much of the show revolves around the worrying about “women and girls”, it’s pure, unadulterated gynocentrism. They say women earn less than men, enjoy fewer career opportunities, the usual feminist clap-trap. Obviously, none of it is substantiated yet, it is pushed as part of their quest for gender neutrality.
They mention how more men named John sit as CEOs on boards than all the female CEOs combined but, no word is mentioned on the stark gender disparity in the homeless community. Funny, that.
The motivation for the show, as discussed by the host ‘Doctor’ Javid Abdelmoneim, is derived from the realisation that gender differences are caused by both our biology and our environment (imagine my shock), leading the ‘doctor’ to the belief that he can erase gender inequality if he can erase gender differences in his brave, new classroom.
Emboldened by Professor Gina Rippon from Aston University telling him there is no such thing as a male or female brain type, he sets about removing all hints of sex-differences from the classroom because sex differences are a social construct.
What the good Professor failed to tell him was that she was chatting utter nonsense, this study here (a huge meta-analysis) shows notable differences in the brains of men and women, as does this study here and this study here. It’s not just in structure but also function where we find differences.
[I feel I must note to any and all gender ideologues who read the above paragraph that, whilst the evidence does show there are sex differences in brain structure and function, it does not mean one sex is naturally better than the other – our differences are complementary. So, do not even try to use this information to “prove” such inflammatory garbage. Thanks.]
The class of seven year olds were first tested across a variety of psychological measures to quantify any and all differences; the measures were: their levels of self-esteem; their self-perceived intelligence; their understanding and levels of empathy; their assertiveness; their ability to resist impulsiveness; and their emotional vocabulary.
They found the girls underestimated their intelligence and had less self-esteem and confidence. The boys had a smaller emotional vocabulary (except for anger) – many have inappropriately referred to this as normal male alexithymia. They also found that when describing themselves, the girls used more words that referred to their appearance.
How did Javid react to these results? The differences are purely socially constructed because boys’ and girls’ brains are identical. Also, these social constructions are keeping girls down. Sigh.
He concludes this despite evidence proving that testosterone inhibits empathy (see here and here [that second study found it also altered brain connectivity]) – which shows why the boys scored lower on empathy and emotional vocabulary. And, whilst evidence does show that boys exhibit higher levels of self-esteem, the show couldn’t find a correlation between self-esteem/confidence and intellectual ability/potential (I might as well add that UCAS data shows 100,000 more women applied to university than men). Ergo, for him (or anyone) to assume girls are being held back, is inaccurate.
Following these results, he really starts to stamp out gender differences, beginning with gendered terms of endearment (love, sweet-pea, fella, mate, etc). He introduces sex neutral toilets, sex-neutral cupboards for storing bags/lunchboxes/etc, children are picked for comment/involvement via a lottery-style system … you get the picture.
Not content with stamping out gender differences in the present, Abdelmoneim wants to stamp them out for good. He does this by enquiring what jobs the children want as adults and whether these jobs are suited for men or for women. He is shocked, not just by their choices of jobs (and how they are perceived as gendered) but, how strong in their convictions the children are regarding whether these jobs are for men or for women.
Look out for part 2 of this review where we will discuss human sexual dimorphism and basic sex differences .