Gender stereotypes: like it or not, they are always going to exist.
What’s interesting is that for every stereotype you’ve dismissed outright when it was applied to your own gender, in your day to day life you’ve most likely seen evidence of something that is conventionally ascribed to the opposite sex; and even though you may not have vocalized your thoughts to anyone, you undoubtedly took the time to ponder if whatever it was you saw betrayed a more far-reaching implication.
Are males and females as alike as our modern “Politically Correct” teachings insist we are?
Regardless of your gender, I think it is wise to begin with a concession that hopefully everyone will agree to: of course you cannot paint males and females using only the broad strokes. Ultimately we are all individuals, shaped from an incalculable array of variables, most of which are not chosen by us, but for us.
In a lot of ways, we’re all like tie-dyed shirts, aren’t we? Simply horrible!. Heh heh. No, but seriously – try as you might, it is impossible to get the same result twice.
Naturally there are “big issues” such as varying socio-economic backgrounds, but consider something as simple as witnessing the divorce of your parents. When you’re little and something like that happens, it’s unfortunately common to see the warring parties manipulate the child’s world view using a wide variety of subtle techniques. It’s sad, but at that age, sides are chosen and the consequences can mean an upbringing devoid of a huge influence.
But I digress.
Scientifically speaking, gender difference and aptitudes exist and they are absolutely chartable. A little while ago I watched a video on a study that was done in a 5th grade classroom. Each student was given a piece of paper with two circles drawn on it and instructed to “fill in the blank” by drawing “the rest” of the bicycle. The students were told to make the drawing as detailed as possible.
The experiment was designed to test the theory that males have a natural aptitude for understanding things such as the intricacy of mechanics. In any case, the study was pretty conclusive. The boys in the classroom drew their bicycles with incredible detail, right down to the number of gears, all visible on the wheels. Most of the girls couldn’t even replicate the general shape of the bicycle’s frame, let alone the specific details.
To see if I would notice similar results, at work today I decided to try a one-off experiment with a female intern: Stacie.
It was Friday after all, and she had put in a solid week of work, so I decided to reward her with something a little more informal. I stopped by her desk with two sheets of paper and two ballpoint pens. I gave no indication that this was a test, but suggested that as a change of pace, we could “just draw for a while.”
I thought it was cute when she asked if she would “get in trouble,” but I reminded her that I’m the boss and that it was perfectly okay. This seemed to put her fears to rest. I drew two quick circles on each piece of paper and explained the instructions.
“Stacie,” I said, “let’s see who can draw a more detailed picture of a bike, okay? This isn’t about making it like a photo or anything, it’s simply about the little details and knowing where they go. You have a bike, don’t you?”
“I do have a bike!” she said with a smile.
“Perfect! What I want you to do is pretend that these circles represent the bike’s wheels, then fill in ALL the details you can remember, okay?”
And so we began. When we were done, I thought the results were pretty conclusive.
FIRST, THE BIKE I DREW:
AND NOW, THE BIKE STACIE DREW: