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This leaves me completely unsurprised. Every time sexists come out with "brain differences", we find they are culture differences.

Girls leave STEM because they face creepiness, misogyny and unequal treatment from students and faculty.

Here in Sweden women leave male dominated subjects in education at the same rate that men leave female dominated subjects.

There is a lot of similarities when women leave a programming profession and when men leave the teacher profession. Both will say that they feel the social environment is unconformable. Both will say that there is an unequal treatment from students and faculty. Both will report of gender based bullying and harassment.

And the similarities continue in how quickly people leave the profession. Both has a significant higher leave rate while student, during the first year as employed and after 10 years. Being a minority gender is leaky pipe, and if we look at work segregation in general using numbers from a few years ago, 84.3% men and 84.2% women worked in a gender segregated work place.

From last year national workplace health survey, the industry with highest rate of bullying and sexual harassment was nursing, which swapped placed with construction which was the previous worst workplace. That those two professions are next to each other in toxic work environment makes perfect sense if we assume there is practically no difference biologically, socially and culturally between men and women.

Considering a lot of changes during puberty, and these tests done before onset of puberty, we don't know what happens later.

Without looking at other age groups, we never know. Most teachers in those age groups are (in most countries) women, but I agree about inequality when one-gender-only scholarships are offered.

More research has to be done on other age groups. There are ethics problems with active involvement, but brain differences have been observed in other animals too ( https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13596-male-monkeys-pr... )

I think some leave for some of the reasons you mentioned sometimes. We know that if the state demands it girls and later women will succeed in STEM. We could do better in STEM for girls and women, but also we could do better for boys and men too. Currently we import the deficit.

That said, I think a lot of it is not what you listed (which is still a problem needed addressing) but the majority is social demand and how we as a society don’t make those careers necessary or cool. People get diverted into business and liberal arts in too great a number.

If we used cultural tools to steer more girls and boys (with special emphasis for girls) into STEM we’d see better results.

Maybe better pay and working conditions would help, along with the “obsolete by 40 stigma”. My wife just quit her STEM job because of a toxic work culture, brought on by a newly hired, sociopath manager (who happens to be female).

Or because they genuinely don't like it, like a study in Sweden where a lot of women are free to chose any career they won't and avoid STEM, because there are a lot of other ways to be successful when there is more equity than STEM (industrial military complex has its toll)

Or because they aren't the only one leaving it in the first place!

Thinking that any man or boy is the same, act the same, think the same and like the same things, and STEM faculties are the worst a woman can find, is naive at best.

Men suffer as women.

The survival bias make people think that only women leave STEM or leave it at bigger rates, but that's not true.

Statistic says that less than 5% of boys and less than 1% of girls think of a career in STEM, it is already largely a field for a few (an élite if you like) and it's dominated by two kinds of people: people obsessed by the topic, in the autistic spectrum, that is mostly a male disease (people in the spectrum gravitate around STEM majors 14% more than neurotypical people - 22% Vs 36% - it means almost 2 times more).

Competitive assholes who like other competitive assholes, who are mostly men.

But the bulk of the students are regular folks like me, who just wanted to study the field but didn't like the academia shit and hence left (and I am in the spectrum as well).

no idea why this has been downvoted for merely stating easily accessible facts. JPeterson often points to the fact that men tend to gravitate towards professions that involve "things" (think engineering and tech etc) whilst woman tend towards professions that involve people. Medicine for example is now woman dominated in the UK. There is no use in ignoring the fact that men and woman might gravitate towards different things in terms of interest - thats vastly different than saying that men and woman are different in terms of their intellectual ability though. As the mentioned article unsurprisingly shows

In my math group in Romania there were more women in the Math classes. I assume in US having a job as a Math teacher is not having such big appeal so this could explain the difference.

I mean that's just one choice of framing right? I could equally say that women gravitate toward professions that require kindness and compassion and relieve immediate suffering, while men gravitate toward more capitalist straightforward work-into-money jobs. That for me ties back to a culture where boys are raised to exploit women and thus becoming alienated from people in general. It's kind of a wildcard, how you connect your perception and big statistics to nature, nurture, and culture

Well, if JPeterson says so... maybe it ties in with the "dragon of chaos" and the "king of order".

I studied physics and mathematics in Sweden, with lots of female colleagues. At my Uni the 2 most segregated subjects were philosophy (only men) and gender studies (only women). Of course thinks may have changed since the nineties.

Yeah, I had a similar experience — I studied Maths in Portugal , and that degree was about 50/50, as was Physics. A clear gender separation was visible in the (overwhelmingly female) chemistry department and the (overwhelmingly male) electrotechnic engineering department, though.

> it's dominated by two kinds of people: people obsessed by the topic, in the autistic spectrum

People discussing the so-called gender gap* in software engineering education always forget a "little" details: learning to program takes a lot of time and dedication. Basically, at least two/three years of 10 hours+ a day (university classes and homework, plus personal reading and projects). Most of this time is spend alone, behind a computer. Very few people are willing to follow this lifestyle, girls even more so because of the lack of face to face human contact it implies.

* which is not a real issue anyway: the software isn't worst because of the lack of women creating it. In addition, the same people are totally fine with 80-100% girls in language and humanities degrees which means their real goal isn't "equality", which is reached already because universities don't select people and education is free (speaking of France here; we hear the same gender-gap bullshit).

Over my career, I've taught several people to code, from a standing start, and all of them were productive long before your 2-3 years alone --- I don't think I'm a good enough teacher to have kept anyone engaged without having them be able to get real-world tasks done after a few weeks --- and none of them spent 10+ hours a day. Programmers, I think, want to believe that serious developers have to train in a Shaolin monastery to achieve proficiency, but the reality is much more banal.

And, obviously to anyone who works in the industry, software development is a team sport. I spent a couple years as a product marketing manager back at Arbor Networks, doing no software development at all, just product pricing and definition and sales team enablement, and I take more meetings as a software developer than I ever did as a PM. So the idea that women are deterred from tech because it's so antisocial doesn't hold up, either.

>serious developers have to train in a Shaolin monastery

Heh. And don't forget that they have to have "passion," been playing with computers before they could walk, spend all their spare time doing side projects in GitHub, etc.

There are few fields where there's such a widespread sense of exceptionalism with a belief that studying a field in university and then simply working conscientiously at it in a day job is considered utterly inadequate by so many.

>> Programmers, I think, want to believe that serious developers have to train in a Shaolin monastery to achieve proficiency, but the reality is much more banal.

Wait. You mean the ten years I spent in K'un-Lun learning how to press Return before I was allowed to declare my first variable ... doesn't _everybody_ have to do that?

> Over my career, I've taught several people to code, from a standing start, and all of them were productive long before your 2-3 years alone

What background did these people have? Are you sure it's not sampling bias?

I taught programming to a class of kids who didn't choose to be there: their parents made them come. Some kids were immediately "naturals", the rest struggled, and the gap remained no matter what we tried.

Maybe natural interest for whatever reason rather than necessarily aptitude. I find it pretty unsurprising that if kids make up their mind that they don't like something, maybe they can be brought around but more likely they'll suffer through and make no effort to learn.

> I've had the luxury of teaching programming to a revolving class of kids who didn't want to do it: their parents made them come.

This sounds like a common problem across all subjects.

I wasn't teaching children. No clue what it's like teaching kids to code.

You're really overstating how hard it is to learn to program.

I'm a woman who studied physics and astronomy at university. In my final year I taught myself programming in my spare time because I was interested in it, and knew the job prospects were better than in physics. I had other hobbies and an active dating life at the time, but I still managed to get a software job straight out of university, and it's evolving into a fruitful career.

Learning to program in no way requires 3 years of monastic devotion.

Function, parameters, modules, classes, objects, variables, interface, co and contravariance, structs, union... Functional programming, database (data normalization, SQL, no-sql), OS stuffs (process, scheduling, virtual memory), virtual machines, linkers and loaders, compilation, interpretation, compilers (language theory & implementation), HTML et al., networks (ip addressing, domain name, socket), software architecture, design patterns, security issues, memory management, IPC, containers, deployment, CI, encoding (Unicode, UTF8, ASCII), IO, various file formats... List, tree (binary, balanced, implementation), hashset, graph, stack, FIFO. Back-end, mobile, windowed app, game... etc, etc.

I see there is a lot of genius in this thread, having come across all these concepts and got a working understanding of all these things in a few weeks/months. I'm 10 years in and I still learn weekly. Either Dunning–Kruger is in full effect or you internalized so many thing you don't see them anymore.

Yeah, this is pretty much my thoughts as well. Even aside from the large range of topics out there, there's a massive gap from "can do something useful" to "can program well / in a maintainable way".

One of my dormmates in college was in some engineering degree, I forget what, and decided to learn some programming from us, since so many of us were in CS. It was a pretty short time before he could do useful things, actually helping him finish his projects faster, but all that took was some very basic concepts: arrays, loops, conditionals. I think on the order of a week to get the concepts down and be able to write a C program from scratch, and another week or two before he had the concepts embedded in his mind enough to use it with his own work.

Thing is, even that was far faster than I typically saw for those same concepts, as a Teacher's Assistant for the introductory CS courses. The engineering mindset seemed to give him some sort of foundation to pick it up faster, even having never done it before.

And his code was absolutely terrible, he had a long, long way to go if he ever wanted to even consider programming as a profession.

> learning to program takes a lot of time and dedication. Basically, at least two/three years of 10 hours+ a day (university classes and homework, plus personal reading and projects)

That's absurd. I didn't devote anywhere near that amount of time to learning to program. I did it, in three languages (four, if Verilog counts), over the course of 8 classes in an EE undergrad program. Sure, it took longer to get good at it. Getting good just required actually building things, but not for anywhere near 10 hours a day.

>> Most of this time is spend alone, behind a computer. Very few people are willing to follow this lifestyle, girls even more so because of the lack of face to face human contact it implies.

I don't follow. What does face to face human contact have to do with being a girl? Can you clarify?

I hope looking at who is overwhelmingly doing teaching, nursing and retail jobs isn't too triggering.

Ah, I see. You are not interested in a serious discussion between adults.

From the Wikipedia article "Neuroscience of sex differences":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_sex_difference... Lateralization appears to differ between in the sexes with men having a more lateralized brain. This is based on differences in "left" and "right" brained abilities. One factor which contributes support to the idea that there is a sex difference in brain lateralization is that men are more likely to be left handed. However, it is unclear whether this is due to a difference in lateralization.[6]

Meta-analysis of grey matter in the brain found sexually dimorphic areas of the brain in both volume and density. When synthesized, these differences show volume increases for males tend to be on the left side of systems, while females generally see greater volume in the right hemisphere.[2] However, based on a number of studies using different measurement techniques, there is no significant difference between male and female brain lateralization

If you divided people into athletes and pianists, you would find dimorphic brain differences too, because

1. We learn

2. Learning is physical, because it occurs in the brain

3. Over time, learning is reflected in detectable physical differences in the brain

The reason that studies like this one are looking at children is that they are trying to minimize the role of established patterns of use in creating brain differences. In other words, differences arising from culture.

.. isn't the relevance of this specifically what the top-of-thread article is arguing against? That the existence of brain dimorphism doesn't actually affect the problem solving?


I sympathize with your sentiment, but uncivil comments are likely to be downvoted / flagged.

Care to explain e.g. the difference in size with men having larger brains on average? (between 8% and 13% larger)


Brain size doesn't correlate very well with intelligence amongst humans, while average brain differences between men and women are both nuanced and not universal.

I know but that doesn't answer the question how culture makes male brains bigger which is the statement of OP

Men have bigger brains most likely because they have bigger bodies. Bigger bodies need bigger brains to control them. But there are differences in the relative proportions of grey vs white matter for example, so in this case size most likely doesn't matter.

It does however mean that the GP's Every time sexists come out with "brain differences", we find they are culture differences. is factually wrong (unless you can somehow explain brain size culturally).

A better argument would be that every time brain differences were found, they turn out to be irrelevant. However, I'm not sure even that is true, considering some colleges are experimenting with mental rotation training to help female engineering students, with good results: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/43802/can-teaching-spatial-sk... That example also shows identifying gender differences is not a bad thing; it allows coming up with ways to compensate.

Women's bodies _are_ different from men's in a number of ways, so it is likely that their brains are different for similar reasons. But brains are very plastic in their functions - you can live quite happily if born with only half a one, for example.

But the plasticity means that cultural practises are likely to have an effect on brains, in the same way that London Cabbies famously have over developed hippocampus with more nerve cells than they had before due to the requirements of their jobs.

Finding brain differences does not, therefore, mean that the differences are genetic or directly gender related, but could be culturally generated through different roles being adopted for social reasons.

Men have larger body mass on average. For example, the difference is about 10 kg. (20 lb.) in the US:


It seems pretty clear that absolute brain mass is not that important, but the ratio of brain to body mass, is. For example, whales famously have (much) larger brains than humans, but are not (considered) as intelligent as humans.


The brain of the sperm whale is the largest, five times heavier than a human’s. The adult sperm whale brain is 8,000 cubic centimeters weighing about 8 kg (18 lb), while ours is about 1300 cubic centimeters. A human brain can weigh 1.5 kg in adulthood.

Note again: sperm whales have five times more brains than humans.

Going to actual citation in that article, "Males have on average larger overall absolute volumes (i.e. not corrected for body size) in each volume category (see Table 3), ranging from 8% to 13% larger volume in males." ... aren't males generally physically larger overall? Granted, 8-13% feels like it's disproportionate, but I'd want to check that before drawing any conclusions.

Is correcting for body size correct? If it takes X mass of brain to run the human body, than the larger brain has more cells free to do something other than run the body. Or in other words, how much of a larger brain is required to run a larger body - if the scale isn't linear then I'd expect the larger brain to be "smarter"

As the other posters have said, size doesn't seem to correlate to anything. More than that I don't know.

That's a fair question. I'm given to understand that brain size doesn't directly scale with intelligence (consider sperm whale vs dolphin vs human), but for all I know that's only true between species? Actually now that I'm thinking about it, I'm pretty sure there are pathologies where the brain is too big, but one shouldn't conclude much on pathological cases. So.... I dunno. Maybe?

Anyway one complication between species is we know that brains are composed and are laid out differently which affects density and distribution. Cephalopods for instance lack mylenation and appear to have their brain functions a bit more distributes to the point that they occasionally have "rogue arms" which act dysfunctional to the point the host decides to just chew it off and eventually regenerate a "sane" replacement.

It is probably a very rough approximation anyway as it doesn't account for what a given body is. A brain the size of a gnat would be insufficient to handle a body the size of an elephant but that doesn't say how relevant the difference is even in the same order of magnitude. A morbid observation of hunters and tanners is that anything the brain of anything they skin is enough to tan its hide. Now that is clearly a chemical process with a very remote relation to actual processing capability given that tanin can subsitute for tanning but not thinking but it does hint at a lower bound size constraint for even the dumbest vertabrate.

That aside the point is there would be less nerve input for the brain to process from five grams of fat, five grams of skin, or say an organ like the eye. Let alone any other other details it must acount or provide for. Further complicating things is neural plasticity - if I recall correctly "optical" areas of the born blind tend to be repurposed for other senses as opposed to say mathematical ability.

TL;DR: There is evidence but certainly not good enough to tell us anything about sex differences in humans.

Same reason men have bigger feet.

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