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Lisa Wade - The New Science of Sex Difference

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Lisa Wade - The New Science of Sex Difference

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Is it nature or nurture? Yes! In this lecture I offer a different perspective on the nature/nurture debate, using striking and often amusing evidence for the influences of society on our biology. Ranging across the biological sciences — genetics, hormones, and neuroscience — I discuss the newest research on society-biology interactions, paying special attention to the implications for understanding gender differences and similarities. The article closes with an argument that embracing these developments can enhance rather than harm ongoing efforts to reduce social inequalities of all kinds.

Is it nature or nurture? Yes! In this lecture I offer a different perspective on the nature/nurture debate, using striking and often amusing evidence for the influences of society on our biology. Ranging across the biological sciences — genetics, hormones, and neuroscience — I discuss the newest research on society-biology interactions, paying special attention to the implications for understanding gender differences and similarities. The article closes with an argument that embracing these developments can enhance rather than harm ongoing efforts to reduce social inequalities of all kinds.

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Lisa Wade - The New Science of Sex Difference

  1. The New Science of Sex Difference Lisa Wade, PhD
  2. Genes• Hormones • Brains
  3. Genes• Hormones • Brains Culture • Interaction • Structure
  4. Genes
  5. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  6. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  7. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  8. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  9. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  10. Genes • Sex-linked • Sex-limited • Sex-influenced
  11. Genes Blueprint?
  12. Genes “…the organism has choices… If a problem is encountered, the thing has to figure out a solution. Sometimes the solution is fantastic, other times it is less so… If we didn’t have extensive overlap and redundancy in our genome, we wouldn’t be here at all.” - geneticist Mario Capecchi
  13. Genes • 5% = the story • 95% = the storyteller
  14. Genes • 5% = the story • 95% = the storyteller “What is written in our genes… is a very open-ended story.” - sociomedicist Rebecca Jordan-Young
  15. Genes • 5% = the story • 95% = the storyteller “The sheer possibility of outcomes is “transcalculational, a mathematical term for mind boggling.” - geneticist Richard Strohman
  16. Genes • 5% = the story • 95% = the storyteller Epigenetic tags: chemical changes to DNA that tell genes what to do.
  17. Genes • 5% = the story • 95% = the storyteller
  18. Genes GENES ARE AMAZING!
  19. “…any living cell carries with it the experience of a billion years of experimentation by its ancestors. You cannot expect to explain so wise an old bird in a few simple words.” - biologist Max Delbrück Genes
  20. Hormones 1) Messengers in our chemical communication system.
  21. Hormones Male vs. Female Hormones
  22. Hormones • Organizational effects • Activational effects
  23. Hormones • Organizational effects • Activational effects
  24. Hormones • Organizational effects • Activational effects
  25. Hormones • Organizational effects • Activational effects
  26. Hormones 1) Messengers in our chemical communication system. 2) Mechanisms of social interaction.
  27. Hormones 1) Messengers in our chemical communication system. 2) Mechanisms of social interaction.
  28. Hormones 1) Messengers in our chemical communication system. 2) Mechanisms of social interaction.
  29. Brains
  30. Brains • Small average sex differences in: – brain anatomy –composition – function – size – tissue ratios
  31. Brains Brain lateralization
  32. Brains • Brain plasticity: our brain’s ability to respond to the environment.
  33. Brains • Functional plasticity: producing the same outcome in different ways.
  34. Brains Brains might produce male- and female-typical outcomes, but they may “just as well do the exact opposite, that is, they may prevent sex differences in overt functions and behaviors by compensating for sex differences in physiology.” - neuroendocrinologist Geert De Vries
  35. Brains The difference between people w/ and with/out training > than that between men + women.
  36. Brains The Flynn Effect
  37. Brains “The brain is basically a social organ.” - sociologist David Franks
  38. TAKE HOME POINTS
  39. TAKE HOME POINTS • We now know how social difference and inequality become embodied.
  40. TAKE HOME POINTS • We now know how social difference and inequality become embodied. “Biology is, literally, the flesh and blood of society.” - Me
  41. TAKE HOME POINTS • We now know how social difference and inequality become embodied. • So we can make powerful arguments against the naturalization of biological states.
  42. TAKE HOME POINTS • We now know how social difference and inequality become embodied. • So we can make powerful arguments against the naturalization of biological states. • We can better understand how difference and inequality emerge, persist, and are changed.
  43. TAKE HOME POINTS • We now know how social difference and inequality become embodied. • So we can make powerful arguments against the naturalization of biological states. • We can better understand how difference and inequality emerge, persist, and are changed. • Helps explain why sex differences research has been so… anticlimatic.
  44. TAKE HOME POINTS • Now we can use biological research to add urgency to feminist efforts…
  45. TAKE HOME POINTS • Now we can use biological research to add urgency to feminist efforts… • … by showing just how deep oppression goes and how very unjust it is.
  46. Lisa Wade, PhD • lisa-wade.com • t:@lisawade • fb:/lisawadephd Thanks! Image credits to attackofthecute.com, theilovedogssite.com, schizophrenia.com, ileeh, zastavki.com, + freshboo.com.

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