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to be sad that my DD has now passed gender discrimination 101?

(407 Posts)
ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:02:44

My DD can now accurately pick out the boys and girls in her peer group (age 1-2). Presumably she has successfully identified that boys and girls are dressed differently/have their hair cut differently.

This is entirely due to adult imposed gender discrimination, as she a) isn't looking at them naked, b) can't possibly be detecting the very subtle actual differences in behaviour/appearance.

So lets hurry onto the next lesson:

Society expects girls and boys to behave differently and have different interests, strengths and weaknesses.

Before I could at least wonder if, when she saw in books that all the girls are doing different things to the boys, she might not realise which was which and specifically which group she was 'supposed' to be in. Now I know she will be learning exactly what is expected of her every time a tired old stereotype is rolled out.

I still bf dd and she's 15.5mo.
and I work full time. she comes to work with me.
I run my own business and look after the child.

that hasn't stood in my way.
working for an employer would.

when I was a child I was a typical "tomboy" but I usually wore dresses and skirts because I found trousers to be uncomfortable and impractical. they would rub and chafe against my bum and upper thighs. skirts always had a freedom to them. and they could be tucked into knickers if necessary. trousers just got in the way.
and yes, even for playing football riding bikes and climbing trees (the latter I spent most of my leisure time doing)
my mum painted a mural of the family depicted as rabbits. I was paibted wearing trousers where my sisters all had skirts. I didn't like that because it made me look like a boy rabbit and I wanted it to be obvious I was a girl. there were no other attributes that made the difference between male and frmale rabbits. mum had a skirt, dad had trousers.. my mym said she painted me that way because I was more tomboyish and she wanted to reflect my personality.
I was more interested in my sex being depicted. so she filled in the trousers to make a skirt. you could always see that it had been trousers made into a skirt. you could always tell that I was different.
it's not a problem to be different. I've made it my goal through my life to be what I want to be even if it means being different. but kids do care.
it's really strange thinking about that.

ICBINEG Fri 29-Mar-13 00:22:04

sparkly could I borrow your brain? I would like to be able to write posts like that!

Sparklyboots Thu 28-Mar-13 20:56:34

Well, there may or may not be 'innate' differences (but I was also convinced by the C Fine stuff, specially in the context that the differences were accounted for by smaller versus larger brains). But I sincerely doubt they relate to preferring pink, say, or liking skirts rather than trousers, if only because gender preferences in relation to those things is not stable across our own culture through all times, or all cultures at this time.

And if there are 'innate' differences, it hardly mitigates the fact that we've constructed social systems that value in literal and figurative terms, those seemingly 'preferred' by males. Which means however you look at it, I'm disadvantaged by my gender because of socially constructed value systems. And it's very annoying.

LadyFlumpalot Thu 28-Mar-13 16:18:21

My DS is mostly only interested in playing with cars and watching cars and planes on TV.

This could have a lot to do with me, being a petrol head who loves engines and being obsessed with mechanical things that go fast!

Weirdly enough (or not?) I'm also a very stereotypical girly girl and when I'm not covered in engine oil so wearing grubby dungarees I tend to be found in skirts and very impractical shoes.

Mmm. I have to go with 'I know who I believe' here ... and I know of course that I want to believe Fine's side.

I think positive discrimination can be good, too.

I do find it interesting that in countries where ideas about which careers go with which gender differ from others, women don't seem to have any difficult aspiring to a career we think is 'masculine'. My dad works with engineers - over here in the UK that is a 'male' career, and engineers often have the brain traits Baron-Cohen identifies as 'male brain' traits. But there are plenty of women engineers in parts of Eastern Europe. Likewise, computer programming used to be seen as feminine and is now male-dominated.

I can't know, but I reckon the social issues are so obvious - and everyone agrees they have a big effect - so it's best to concentrate on them first. If we get to the perfect equal society and find women still prefer to be SAHMs or nurses and men prefer to go out to work, so be it. I sincerely doubt we would, but I also don't see why it needs to be an issue.

inde Thu 28-Mar-13 11:11:27

LRD One of the studies shown in the progamme was one that showed differences from birth. I know that Cordelia Fine has criticised the research but the researcher (Baron Cohen) replied saying he had put checks and controls in place to prevent bias. Baron Cohen has written over 250 peer reviewed papers although he is mostly reknowned for his work on autism. Baron Cohen also claims to have found differences in empathy in older children corresponding to testoterone levels measured at birth.
On the subject of employment they referred to a study that had been done to find out what young women's employment aspirations were. They found the results consistent no matter which country the person came from. In other words a girl from Saudi Arabia has (on average) similar employment aspirations to one in Norway in spite of the amount of effort that has gone into equal opportunities their.
Like you I am not a scientist and I will conceed that by cherry picking and distortion you can prove anything. On the other hand even an ex commisioner for equal opportunities that they interviewed conceded that efforts to get more females into "male" professions had failed.
Personally I am in favour of some positive discrimination. Certainly when it comes to things like getting more women into parliament. The Norwegian experience seems to suggest though that we need to be selective with where the money and effort goes. Interetingly one result of the debate that the programme provoked was that funding for the Nordic Gender Institute was withdrawn.

SneezingwakestheJesus Thu 28-Mar-13 00:04:21

Haha! I do try to help grin

Ooh, I shall have to remember that.

I'm not 'arsey as shite', I'm 'passionate'. (See, DH?)

grin

SneezingwakestheJesus Thu 28-Mar-13 00:02:05

Nah, you just sounded passionate about it grin

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 23:56:58

Oh god this is a partially remembers second hand anecdote (you know the opposite of science) but I am sure someone on MN was saying that the bloke who is now an adult whose parents refused to let anyone know his gender really felt it had made him a whole person.

If you persistently tell girls they aren't allowed to be wild ever, and persistently discourage boys from playing nuturing games then might we be producing a generation of half people?

Sorry, I read that over and I was really rude there. blush

It's the reporting of it that drives me nuts, I wasn't trying to have a go at you.

I'm no scientist so my learning is not exactly kosher either.

SneezingwakestheJesus Wed 27-Mar-13 23:27:41

I does all mah learnin' from the TV so at face value it was interesting. Its not something I've read much on but yes now you point it out, I see what you mean... the male and female brains in the study about brains would still be affected by society. That makes it all a bit rubbish then.

There is also the view, of course, that the peer-reviewed studies finding differences between male and female brains (which cannot have been 'innate' if they were looking at adults, can they?), are a crock of shite. I'm being flippant, but it is a contested area, it's not clear-cut.

SneezingwakestheJesus Wed 27-Mar-13 16:17:06

Can't think what programme it was on recently but they compared skills and reactions to certain tests to see if the volunteers had male or female brains and compared that to their physical gender. The male participants who worked in "female" jobs turned out to react in a way that matched the average female brain and the female participants in "male" jobs reacted in a way that matched the average male brain. That kind of makes me believe the theory that its not society that tells us what we want to do in life but that its more genetic and biological than that.

inde Wed 27-Mar-13 16:07:41

ICBINEG I am sure that there is an element of social conditioning involved and the pinkification of our female children does worry me. I do think that kids, especially females are probably more resilient to this kind of conditioning than we sometimes think though.
The thing is though that after forty years of trying to reduce the gender differences between professions, particularly so in Nordic countries the ratios are not changing. If anything they are even more polarised.

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 15:45:09

inde okay but why do men and women want to do different jobs?

I am sure that all other things being equal there would be biases in the jobs men and women would choose, but we are tending here towards 0% men like secretarial jobs and 0% women like academic jobs. That can't be natural preference alone...

Consider the following stats for % women at each stage.

Chemistry: students 50%, post grad 40%, postdoc 20%, academic 5% Prof 0%
Physics: students 25%, post grad 20%, post doc 20%, academic 15%, Prof 10%.

the job of science academic is reasonably similar across the two departments but the retention of women is totally different. This suggests quite strongly to me that it isn't job preference that's the problem....

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 15:39:18

bun that's nice but there are lots of threads on MN of the 'my DS wants a pink pram for his 7th birthday, AIBU to say no' type. And they are the ones that have actually considered saying yes...many many more wouldn't even entertain the idea.

My grandma told my nephew that he shouldn't play with the doll my mum got for my daughter at xmas as dolls are for girls. My mum shushed her....and of course I caught the whole thing on video.

But my nephew was really confused about the whole thing for the next two days.

There are SHIT LOADS of parents doing/saying these kinds of things every day. I am glad you aren't one of them but that doesn't make the others cease to exist.

Bunbaker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:15:00

"telling children which toys they 'should' play with"

When I was little I always wanted a train set, so I got one for DD. She also had one of those mats with roads on and some toy cars. She simply was not interested in them and preferred to play with gender neutral toys, dolls and cuddly toys, despite my best efforts and enthusiasm for the "boys toys".

inde Wed 27-Mar-13 15:04:36

That isn't to say of course that women aren't capable of doing those jobs. Women prove over and over that they are. The difference is between the type of jobs that women and men want to do.

inde Wed 27-Mar-13 15:01:22

I recently followed a link to a Norwegian documentary (with english subtitles) on gender differences. Norway is often mentioned as being at the forefront of gender equality. They have tried to increase the amount of women in "male professions" but the ratio returns to the norm as soon as they stop encouraging women to take up those jobs. In a nutshell they said that peer reviewed research showed that this wasn't because of social conditioning it was down to inherent differences between males and female brains.

PrincessScrumpy Wed 27-Mar-13 14:47:35

My girls have slow growing hair and today are dressed in Jeans with plain green top. Don't get why people are so stressed about gender. Dd1 loved cars and dinosaurs as a toddler but at 5 she loves dresses and pink. Just let them be themselves rather than trying to force them against how they want to be.

Whoops, lost track of this thread as I've been moving house, and I saw my name so came back.

tolliver - sorry not to reply. But funny you mention about identical twins. I had the same experience - I was in a class with twins at primary school, and I always knew which was which as they didn't look alike to me. I think that as we see more and more faces, our brains systematize, so we stop noticing features that we know we don't need to pay attention to.

But I thought - and I could be wrong - that it is different with gender, because children genuinely don't look different according to gender, and identical twins do typically have observable physical differences?

jessie - true, there's the language. I don't see enough children to know, it just seemed so young to me. TBH it's fascinating in itself that children work out something as complex as how pronouns work.

My niece she uses 'mummy' indiscriminately for her mum and dad, and doesn't seem to understand gender. However, she uses 'daddy' to mean 'pick me up now!' grin Now there's a miscommunication to analyse ...

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 14:22:41

Just went up for a cuppa at lunch.

In row 1 of seating we had 8 secretarial and support staff - all women.

In rows 2 and 3 we have about 35 academics, postdocs and students - all male.

I have some vague ideas about why there are so few female academics/postdocs but I actually have very little idea about why there are NO male support staff.

Is typing, filing, processing data somehow beneath men? Or is it just that if all the men are doing the boss jobs there are none left to be secretaries?

TheBigJessie Wed 27-Mar-13 14:21:17

LRD ! think it's fascinating, any toddler can tell, given that I can't tell unless the toddler is clearly colour-coded!

Thing is, English is a language which differentiates between male and female. (He, she, his, her) and children are learning to communicate. So they do have a huge incentive to learn to differentiate using facial structure, and constant feed-back when they get it wrong. "He, darling, it's his book. Give it back to him darling."

I'm not sure whether my little boys (who are three) can tell the difference between boys and girls. I know they tell me I'm a "good boy" when they're pleased with me!

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 14:19:36

exotic and Freddie yes that is what I am saying. Dress them in a colour you like...not the one that convention dictates....unless they happen to be the same (should happen about 1 in 10 times I reckon).

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