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Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story

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From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. She exp From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. She explores what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, revealing an alternative view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded.


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From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. She exp From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. She explores what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, revealing an alternative view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded.

30 review for Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A powerful book that pierces through the notion that women are biologically inferior to men. With great diligence, Angela Saini combs through decades and decades of research that tried to show how women are worse than men in several areas, ranging from intelligence to aptitude for work to physical health. She uses a thorough understanding of science and a fine eye for detail to reveal how many of these perceived sex differences were actually the product of biased researchers or flawed studies. S A powerful book that pierces through the notion that women are biologically inferior to men. With great diligence, Angela Saini combs through decades and decades of research that tried to show how women are worse than men in several areas, ranging from intelligence to aptitude for work to physical health. She uses a thorough understanding of science and a fine eye for detail to reveal how many of these perceived sex differences were actually the product of biased researchers or flawed studies. Saini discusses an array of ways in which this inaccurate idea of female inferiority came to popularity: research journals favoring studies that show differences over studies that show similarities, scientific findings that fail to take into account culture and patriarchy, sexism in research labs and universities, and more. She sheds light on new research that seeks to understand gender and sex from more nuanced, feminist, and holistic perspectives. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone, in particular to those interested in science, feminism, and the production of knowledge. While I do not think we necessarily need a biological argument to fight for women's advancement (i.e., cancer can be perceived as "natural" and we fight it anyway), Inferior does advance the discourse surrounding gendered discrimination in science in meaningful ways. It makes a great follow-up to Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender , which addressed similar topics with a specific focus on neurosexism. Inferior has inspired me to continue striving for more socially just and feminist approaches in my research agenda, and I hope it does the same for many other scientists.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Devogenes

    `I enjoyed this book. I particularly found the medical stuff very interesting — the differences between male and female immune systems, the set of diseases unique to people with Y chromosones, etc. Pretty neat. But, while there was a lot of great content in the book, I often found myself a bit annoyed with the biased presentation of some of that content. Despite claiming at the beginning that she "had no axe to grind", it's very clear that she actually did. I especially had issues with her discus `I enjoyed this book. I particularly found the medical stuff very interesting — the differences between male and female immune systems, the set of diseases unique to people with Y chromosones, etc. Pretty neat. But, while there was a lot of great content in the book, I often found myself a bit annoyed with the biased presentation of some of that content. Despite claiming at the beginning that she "had no axe to grind", it's very clear that she actually did. I especially had issues with her discussion of the anthropological data. She concludes that "science" has "proven" that men and women have evolved biologically and culturally performing the SAME tasks, which is not only, I would say, highly controversial but which she provided counter-examples to in her own book! She points out that women in certain communities kill animals with their digging sticks, and therefore women are hunters, and therefore women and men are exactly alike. I don't find that argument convincing. She includes but doesn't comment upon the very interesting fact that women almost without exception are responsible for weaving cross-culturally. And somehow she completely ignores war. That,to me, is an incredible omission. If you're going to make the argument that there are no population-wide behavioural differences between men and women, how can you leave out war? (Of course you can find examples of warrior women throughout history, but I think it's utterly disingenuous not to recognize how steeply gendered warfare is and has been). I don't see a convincing way to account for that that is based purely on socially constructed gender norms. It would have been nice to see inclusion of the Batek people indigenous to Malaysia. They are (or were) a completely non-authoritarian society with almost no social hierarchies whatsoever. Any person could do whatever they liked, and compulsion was viewed as a crime. Women could and did hunt. Men could and did weave baskets. And yet what anthropologists found is that men were overwhelmingly the hunters, while women were overwhelmingly the weavers. Even without any overt or implicit social pressures! Highly regarded men could and did weave, but most men still didn't. No one told them they couldn't, their status wasn't threatened if they did, but most men preferred to spend their time elsewise. The same goes for women hunters. They weren't ostracized or discouraged, and yet very few women dedicated themselves to hunting. Why? I think Saini makes the same error that so many of her opponents make in conflating difference with inferiority. So she is right to point out that women are just as important as men in the development and maintenance of human culture. I really liked her discussion of Woman the Gatherer, where the argument is made that the kinds of activities women end to be responsible for cross-culturally in small-scale societies (gathering tubors, picking fruit, etc) are just as important (if not more important) than the large-game hunting that men often pursue in terms of calories. But the behavioural differences there are very hard to ignore, and Saini didn't do a good job at all of demonstrating that those differences don't exist. In fact, she switches between presenting the argument that "women's work" provides more calories than "men's work" and the argument that men and women do the same work. That would be fine if she were simply presenting all the various theories, but she makes it clear throughout the book that women and men are functionally the same, and that "science" supports that view. She brings up intersexed people, and talks about the ramifications, for example, of surgically assigning an intersex person with underdeveloped testes a female gender, but she doesn't seem to acknowledge the significance of those ramifications for her argument that men and women are fundamentally the same. If a person born with underdeveloped testes grows up with gender dysphoria because they were made to believe they were female, then obviously there IS something significant about the psychological differences between males and females. Indeed, the entire transgender movement now is premised upon there being fundamental differences between men and women — you can't have dysphoria if gender differences are purely social. It would have been nice if Saini had discussed transgender people more broadly. She dismisses scientists like Baron-Cohen for not having had their experiments reproduced, but then is happy to include without qualifications untested speculation about things like whether language developed so that babies could communicate with mothers. She also dismisses Baron-Cohen because his findings (that men are more interested in systems and women in people from birth) is sexist because it implies that women are "more suited" to low-paying jobs like teaching, childcare, and nursing. Okay. So this is interesting. What, exactly, is wrong with those jobs? Those are perfectly fine and necessary vocations. Her problem seems to be that they aren't especially high-paying, and so I guess the implication is that only high-paying jobs are worthwhile. But this presents a problem, because the fact is that women dominate in exactly those kinds of jobs. So how do you explain the dramatic over-representation of women in those careers? Baron-Cohen would say that this distribution is entirely consistent with his findings (women tend to prefer working with people). Saini suggests that it is purely a result of social factors. Her argument is that women have to face a lot more discrimination and hardship than men, and so they stay out of male-dominated, high-paying careers like STEM or finance (this explanation, of course, doesn't offer any account of how those careers became so gendered in the first place — saying that "women's jobs" are low status simply begs the question). To prove her point, she gives the example of Iran and Latin America, where women make up proportionally more of the STEM field. Okay. So. Does that mean, then, that women in IRAN are facing LESS discrimination that women in the U.K or Canada? Personally, I find that argument very hard to believe. Saini doesn't consider the fact that the economic situation in Iran is very different, and that women might be facing more pressure to take high-paying jobs that they might not actually prefer in order to survive. She also ignores the fact that in Iran (as far as I know, and I could be wrong), the state plays a significant role in determining the post-secondary careers of students based on test scores. IE, women in Iran have LESS CHOICE in career than women in the United States, and so the social pressures in this case might very well be working to increase gender equity in STEM, rather than to diminish it, contrary to her assumption. This is consistent with the data from Nordic countries, where increasing attempts to remove gendered barriers through things like maternity/paternity protections etc. are resulting in MORE differentiation between men and women into traditionally male and female dominated fields. If that's true, then the situation now really isn't that different from the situation with egalitarian hunter-gatherer communities like the Batek: men and women might naturally tend to differentiate across different fields of activity, without that differentiation producing or resulting from any perceived inferiority on the part of either gender. Saini, I'm sure, would reject that suggestion on the grounds that it is sexist and that it promotes stereotypical gender norms. But there is a difference, for example, between saying that women don't have the intelligence or the fortitude to be software engineers, and saying that women might tend to prefer other careers over software engineering. Just because someone CAN do something, doesn't mean that they WANT to do it. Obviously women can do anything that men can do (except pee standing up). Anyone who suggests differently is sexist. But I don't see, and I was not convinced by this book to believe, that any population-wide behavioural differences or distributions between men and women must be the result of sexist attitudes. Saini says that there are some people who "assume that there is a fundamental difference between men and women". Well, I mean, that's not really an assumption, is it? There ARE fundamental differences between men and women. We're significantly different morphologically. We differ chromosonally. But, most significantly and most obviously, only women can get pregnant. This is not a trivial difference, and it's one which you would expect would produce some variations in gendered behaviour over millions of years of evolution. Which is exactly what we see in other animals. Is the lioness inferior to the lion, simply because they have slightly different behaviours?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    The overarching point of this book, that the imbalance between men and women is socially and culturally, rather than biologically or scientifically, defined seems to me to be self evident. Of course, being female might have something to do with that outlook since i'd be on the losing side otherwise. I have never seen or believed in any inferiority in my sex or gender, neither do I believe in male/female characteristics, assigned gender roles, specific colours for boys and girls...etc etc. If any The overarching point of this book, that the imbalance between men and women is socially and culturally, rather than biologically or scientifically, defined seems to me to be self evident. Of course, being female might have something to do with that outlook since i'd be on the losing side otherwise. I have never seen or believed in any inferiority in my sex or gender, neither do I believe in male/female characteristics, assigned gender roles, specific colours for boys and girls...etc etc. If anything, the most surprising thing about the book and wider contemporary society is that we're still coming up against these outdated and increasingly unsupported ideas now. That is one of the main aims of the book, to underline the essential bias of societal and cultural norms that formed the basis for the apparently impartial scientific studies of the past. As a historian, one of the most important things you learn is the time specific nature of research: the type of questions asked, how the questions are framed, what seems important, methodology, desired outcomes- all these elements are determined by the current social, cultural, religious, economic, and political themes of the time. Scientific investigation is far from free of these biases and Saini suggests that only now are we starting to develop new ways of thinking. Of course, there may be some biological differences between men and women, but they need to be considered without linked ideas of superiority or inferiority. For example, Saini notes that in the case of heart attacks, men and women tend to have different symptoms and reactions, yet studies, and therefore medication, have been focused on the male experience, thus potentially being less effective for women. If that is true for the pathways of disease on a wider scale, how often are women not receiving the kind of care they need? It's a perfect example of the kind of assumptions that need to be addressed- what works for one does not necessary work as well for the other. There's a lot of research here, which Saini systematically explains, evaluating both strengths and weaknesses. Importantly, the author is positive overall; while she spends time exploding some of the scientific myths of the past, she also highlights the way changes have already been put in place and the increasingly expanded and essential role of women in, and as subjects of, scientific research. A timely and worthy read. ARC via Netgalley.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    There are times when a book comes along that is perfectly timed for the zeitgeist - and that's true of Angela Saini's Inferior. Most of the educational and scientific community would, I'm sure, protest their absolute lack of gender bias - but the fact remains that the scientific establishment is still predominantly run by men, even if in some disciplines there are more female students and postgrads than male. And some scientists tell us that there is evidence to underline why this is the natural There are times when a book comes along that is perfectly timed for the zeitgeist - and that's true of Angela Saini's Inferior. Most of the educational and scientific community would, I'm sure, protest their absolute lack of gender bias - but the fact remains that the scientific establishment is still predominantly run by men, even if in some disciplines there are more female students and postgrads than male. And some scientists tell us that there is evidence to underline why this is the natural order, due to brain differences between males and females. Saini systematically pulls this assertion apart, showing how many of the apparent brain differences (and even physical modification of the brain) can be the result of cultural influences. It's not that there are absolutely no male/female differences in the brain, but they are small - in fact significantly smaller than the differences from individual to individual, a comparison that should mean that they are considered insignificant. After a shocking opening, demonstrating just how recently women's brains were genuinely considered inferior - Saini is able to quote Darwin in a letter making it clear that he believed this to be the case - it's not surprising that we get a lot of material showing how unfair this is. The only danger when this is done is of using the same type of dodgy data to make the counter argument. So, for example, a couple of times we are told that girls are, in fact, better at certain intellectual activities at some ages than boys - but clearly, given the lack of difference in brains, this too is presumably not a real distinction, but a cultural imposition. We also see some remarkable bias in the development of anthropological ideas, pushing through to evolutionary ones. Saini shows us how a 1960s symposium put across the idea that 'man as hunter' was the driver for civilisation, while totally ignoring the arguably more significant roles of women that went in parallel with this and would have to have been at least equally important in any shaping of our evolution and civilisation. It does seem shocking that scientists could get it so wrong in the modern era - and its hard not to see these errors pushing through into a sustained gender bias that should be incomprehensible with a proper, object scientific viewpoint. This is strong and thought-provoking stuff. If anything, Saini holds back in certain areas. While she points out the horrors of female genital mutilation, she only mentions in passing the way that some cultures, often driven by religion, still impose strictures on women that are accepted in the West because we don't like to be seen as racist or intolerant. Whether we talking about the culturally imposed wearing of a headscarf or large scale restriction of female independence, as long as these are tolerated it's hard to see that opinions can be universally changed. There were a couple of small scientific issues. Those who insist on a strong distinction between the male and female brain often using evolutionary arguments. As Saini begins to pull this apart she makes the statement 'For every difference or similarity we see, there must be some evolutionary purpose to it.' But this suggests a non-existent directed nature for evolution. And while natural selection makes it more likely that many changes will stay in a species if they have a benefit, it's entirely possible for changes that don't have a benefit to be kept, because no better alternative displaces them. There are plenty of oddities in the human body which, frankly, could be designed better - they don't have a purpose. Similarly there was significant focus on other primates to make observations on human evolutionary biology. But these are species that have changed as much genetically from our common ancestors as we have. I'm not sure how much we can learn about human evolutionary gender differences from a species we split from millions of years before Homo sapiens existed. But in both these cases, the impact is relatively small on the argument. I can imagine some readers will say that surely it is no longer necessary to make these points - we're all aware of them. You only have to look at the kind of society portrayed in a 1960s-set drama like Mad Men to see how much we've moved on. And we do, for instance, have more major political parties led by women than men in the UK at the moment. But the reality is that there are still unnecessary distinctions being made. We do see examples of women being treated as mental and social inferiors, or being segregated because of their gender. In some areas of science, there are still strong advocates for theories that probably should have been left with the Victorians. So this is a book we certainly need.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carling

    One day in high school I was discussing with someone the possibility of getting certified in first aid. While they were encouraging, they also recommended doing some reading outside of the classroom. When I ask why, their reply was simple: "They didn't tell me that a woman's symptoms of a heart attack are different than a man's." At the time I remember being shocked that something so deadly and so important to know wasn't a part of the very lifesaving course I and many others rely on. It was the One day in high school I was discussing with someone the possibility of getting certified in first aid. While they were encouraging, they also recommended doing some reading outside of the classroom. When I ask why, their reply was simple: "They didn't tell me that a woman's symptoms of a heart attack are different than a man's." At the time I remember being shocked that something so deadly and so important to know wasn't a part of the very lifesaving course I and many others rely on. It was the first time I felt like science maybe wasn't as equal as I imagined. Fast forward four years and I'm diagnosed with a chronic illness that mostly impacts women. I can list to you maybe five facts that we know for sure about it and the research is scarce. Again, I find myself thinking back to those high school days and wondering why erectile dysfunction is more studied than my own very real disease. Inferior discusses ways in which science has historically suppressed women. Part feminist analysis and part scientific overview of certain aspects of gender-based and evolutionary scientific fields, Inferior is incredibly well researched with equal balance given to both sides. I can't remember the last time I felt so empowered by a book and validated for feelings I never knew I had. In an age where we question science for all the wrong reasons, Inferior sheds a light on questions that we should be asking. 5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I almost classified this book incorrectly. I thought it would be more social science/feminism than it is. While there is plenty of that too, the book is ostensibly about the bias in science and scientific studies that lead to questionable findings. Indeed, the quest to maintain the patriarchy is pervasive where gender distinctions/differences are concerned. Such biases have shown up in animal studies in a sense scientifically anthropomorphize animals to fit traditional human gender roles. The as I almost classified this book incorrectly. I thought it would be more social science/feminism than it is. While there is plenty of that too, the book is ostensibly about the bias in science and scientific studies that lead to questionable findings. Indeed, the quest to maintain the patriarchy is pervasive where gender distinctions/differences are concerned. Such biases have shown up in animal studies in a sense scientifically anthropomorphize animals to fit traditional human gender roles. The assumptions that females are inferior regardless of species. Saini goes back to history and shows that even Charles Darwin started from an intractable, sexist view and also mentions that Lawrence Summers former President of Harvard declared that there were fewer women in science because they simply are not as intelligent. This by the way happened in the 21st century. Enjoyable book that on the whole really is more about physical and biological science than sociology. It's interesting and brief and not too in-depth. Recommended for anyone with an interest in unconscious bias and how it impacts everything. Even science. 4+ Stars Listened to the audio book. Hanna Melbourn was a good, not great narrator.

  7. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    Edit July 7, 2019 Here is a link to an essential video on masculinity on youtube: https://youtu.be/Cetg4gu0oQQ My review of ‘Inferior’: Gentle readers, especially you men, if you have great expectations in raising a girl child, especially of raising a girl child who will support you in your old age, I recommend 'Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong'. This excellent, if too brief, overview survey of the cultural history of Western science studies on women is a general reader's book, very accessible a Edit July 7, 2019 Here is a link to an essential video on masculinity on youtube: https://youtu.be/Cetg4gu0oQQ My review of ‘Inferior’: Gentle readers, especially you men, if you have great expectations in raising a girl child, especially of raising a girl child who will support you in your old age, I recommend 'Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong'. This excellent, if too brief, overview survey of the cultural history of Western science studies on women is a general reader's book, very accessible and easy to read. The author lists all of the sources for the statistics, studies, quotes, and actual science results in the back of the book in a References section, so if the reader wants more science than history, you can do more in-depth research yourself. The author, Angela Saini, has a master's in engineering from Oxford University. Currently, she is working as an award-winning science journalist. The chapters are: Woman's Inferiority to Man Females Get Sicker but Males Die Quicker A Difference at Birth The Missing Five Ounces of the Female Brain Women's Work Choosy, Not Chaste Why Men Dominate The Old Women Who Wouldn't Die The most fascinating and revealing takeway I had in reading 'Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong' is that most of the current research scientists are working on today in regards to female physiology and psychology is about studying, and ultimately disproving, what were commonly believed and unproven 'facts' about women from the Middle Ages which are STILL commonly believed around the world today. Gentle reader, like me, you may have noticed most of the 'scientific studies' in the recent past century written up in magazine articles - even about actual studies which actually have included human women as laboratory test subjects, even if only as cells in Petri dishes - did not occur much until around the 1950's. It was rare even so. Women were only occasionally included in actual scientific studies. Today, it is being discovered that what works for men, or inside of men, sometimes does not work for women. Lately, people are figuring out it isn't always about hormones, but it possibly could be because women are smaller. Big shock, right? Wait! There is more! Most so-called science articles I grew up reading about gender and sex characteristics/differences, and in some written even today, describe culturally-based opinions, not facts, but OPINIONS, promulgated first by men, and then later by women, as scientifically-based conclusions. The Truth is the vast majority of gender/sex-characteristics studies, until the last fifty years, do not include any actual science or scientific studies using the scientific method on women. Does it help to understand the situation better to learn that most universities, including the top elite colleges, forbid women from studying for a science degree, or sometimes from even enrolling in science/medical/engineering/machine-shop classes, until the mid-1970's? That most women never attended school throughout history thus they never learned to read and write? That even today, many Muslim theocracies forbid male doctors from even treating women, so their experience of women is ludicrously shallow and based on cultural folk-tales from the Middle Ages? There have been many recorded cases of women dying from easily treatable injuries or diseases because of religious and cultural beliefs and a lack of female doctors. It still was a rarity to have real women included in scientific studies until about 2000. There was lots of ink spilled on scientific OPINIONS about women written by men dating back to the 1880's which, of course, were accepted as facts. When actual science was done, it was more along the lines of dissections of dead bodies by men noticing women's brains were smaller than men's, which led to the scientific conclusion women were dumber and more permanently immature than men (never thinking about whales' brains, obviously). Mind you, this was the same period when scientists studied the bumps on skulls and the angle of foreheads to determine the levels of male intelligence. Some scientists of these times were also experimenting with transfusing dog blood into people, and were looking at the pituitary gland, among other organs, for a sign of a soul, and were still scratching their heads about what the heart's purpose was, since most human dissections were performed on dead people. What this means, logically speaking in my humble opinion, is that what we all 'know' about women has been pure mythology until the last fifty years or so. Is there any correlation between the events of male scientists deciding to apply true scientific principles FINALLY to studying women, and the unfeminine unruly unladylike mass protests/marches/strikes - violent and non-violent - of the women's liberation movements - part one being the suffragette anarchy in the 1920's and part two, the women's movement in the 1970's? I suggest, potential reader, especially male readers, that you sit with this thought a bit right now and think a little more deeply about this for a minute or two. Especially if you have young daughters, especially if they show an interest in fixing or programming your car, or building your house into a 'smart' house, or are designing a bridge or a rocketship while doodling, or even if they are figuring out how to re-program that video game console to spy on the neighbors from your livingroom but you still don't know how to turn it on, or they set the cat's broken leg after a misadventure, much less that they can run faster/bench press more reps/do higher maths than you ever could, daddy...pride in a daughter is as wonderful as in a son! I hope more and more parents discover this verity. Meanwhile, according to the book (and I agree) it seems, perhaps, male sexual jealousy has been a primitive driving force, if not the main one, behind the creation of the segregated and lower social status of women. Men can't make children without a woman's womb, and they can't guarantee any child is actually one they helped make unless they take drastic action in making sure a woman has not been with another man (until recently, no man could know for a fact a child was from his sperm without controlling women's freedoms). In my humble opinion (not stated in the book), it may be behind the millennia of years that women have been imprisoned in some kind of a purdahed state by the many differing and accrued cultural social accretions around the world (religion, brute force, cultural customs, fear, punitive morality, no education, enforced roles of motherhood and cook). Unbiased scientific studies are proving women are much the same as men (within a few statistical deviations on the usual bell curves), in behaviors, brain talents, psychology, if raised with the same expectations and educational opportunities as men. Actual behavior differences can be put down to gender window-dressing, imho, once culture is eliminated. I wish I could remake the world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    El

    There were (and still are) people who like to say that men and women are inherently different, as in our minds are "wired" differently. Men "naturally" are better at science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields (STEM), women "naturally" are better at other stuff, like having babies and being pretty. For years (and still), women in the STEM fields have been largely ignored for their contributions and their efforts, and the men in the same fields have taken the credit for the work tha There were (and still are) people who like to say that men and women are inherently different, as in our minds are "wired" differently. Men "naturally" are better at science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields (STEM), women "naturally" are better at other stuff, like having babies and being pretty. For years (and still), women in the STEM fields have been largely ignored for their contributions and their efforts, and the men in the same fields have taken the credit for the work that women have done. We are learning more and more about this sort of thing everyday, but the fact that we are still learning about something that should have been public from the get-go is insane to me. Even the women who fought for equality, the ones who challenged this backwards thinking (that men can just do all the science-y and math-y things and women can't) are still largely lost to history. Angela Saini did a good job of pointing out some of those people in this book. So, Charles Darwin? Sort of a prick when it came to how he viewed women. Yeah, yeah, we can argue all day about how he was a product of his time, yada yada yada. But did you know someone (a WOMAN, gasp) challenged him on his viewpoints? In 1881, Caroline Kennard called Darwin out on this whole inferiority of women thing, and he responded that while women are morally superior, they will never be equal to men unless they become breadwinners, but then that's a problem too because then the children and the household would suffer. In other words, women are more stupid than men, and they should have no aspirations. I'm just pointing out that Kennard was also a product of her time, and she didn't sit back and let Darwin call the shots. That's the thing about the historical context argument - there are always people fighting the good fight, even if everyone else wants to ignore them for disrupting the status quo. This is an interesting, short book. The argument is that science is proving more and more that the differences between men's and women's brains are not biological. There are more social and cultural reasons for the differences between how men and women often think. Some countries outright kill their female offspring because male heirs are much more appealing. Pretending like women never made any advancements in any fields other than baby-raisin' and house-keepin' is bananas. Saini brings up all sorts of names and their achievements, many of whom have been ignored for so long. This still happens all the time, right? Women in STEM fields are still harassed (sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically), their contributions are adopted by their male colleagues and their male colleagues receive the credit, and they still don't make the same amount of money in their lines of work as men do. And it's not just the STEM fields, but because Saini's book discusses the "science" of the matter, it's natural that the STEM fields would be the primary focus of her research. One thing scientists seem to know for sure but don't know why this is the case, is that women tend to outlive men. We seem to handle sickness differently and survive illnesses differently. We seem to survive some crazy shit that can kill a man in no time. But this is all relatively new study because, of course, no one has really ever wanted to study women. Which leads me to believe that we women truly are witches.It isn't that women don't get sick. They do. They just don't die from these sicknesses as easily or as quickly as men do. One explanation for this gap is that higher levels of estrogen and progesterone in women might be protecting them in some way. These hormones don't just make the immune system stronger but also more flexible, according to Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, a researcher at the Institute of Gender in Medicine at the Charite university hospital in Berlin. "This is related to the fact that women can bear children," she explains. A pregnancy is the same as foreign tissue growing inside a woman's body that, if her immune system was in the wrong gear, would be rejected. "You need an immune system that's able to switch from proinflammatory reactions to anti-inflammatory reactions in order to avoid having an abortion pretty much every time you get pregnant. The immune system needs to have mechanisms that can, on one side, trigger all these cells to come together in one spot and attack whatever agent is making you sick. But then you also need to be able to stop this response when the agent is not there anymore, in order to prevent tissues and organs from being harmed." (p35)See. WITCHES. But that magical lucky charms immune system can also backfire, and that can explain why some many of us women have autoimmune disorders. Basically our immune systems see us as being foreign and therefore must be destroyed. So it attacks itself. As someone who has an autoimmune disease, I found this fascinating, even if sounds like some version of baloney. All I'm saying is there's a lot that still hasn't been figured out yet because women's bodies are apparently so bizarre that no one can do the proper studies of it. Except maybe women, but no one listens to them anyway. This is an interesting book and a quick read. I managed to read it in one day, sort of accidentally, but it reads quickly because Saini is a scientific journalist, so this is sort of her forte. She doesn't put on airs. She did her research, she shared the information, she seems to have cited her sources accurately. I appreciated the number of names provided of women who have contributed to our society that no one knows anymore, but we should because most of us wouldn't be here without them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    It is profoundly disheartening that a noble task - namely, to scientifically proof biological equality of men and women - saw such disappointing a realisation in this book. The author is extremely partial to female researches, leaving the whole idea of impartiality of science behind. I first noticed that in her lashing Simon Baron-Cohen's theories. The author, for example, quite derogatorily mentioned that one of Baron-Cohen's assistance in one of his experiments was a "life-guarding on a beach i It is profoundly disheartening that a noble task - namely, to scientifically proof biological equality of men and women - saw such disappointing a realisation in this book. The author is extremely partial to female researches, leaving the whole idea of impartiality of science behind. I first noticed that in her lashing Simon Baron-Cohen's theories. The author, for example, quite derogatorily mentioned that one of Baron-Cohen's assistance in one of his experiments was a "life-guarding on a beach in California" (Chapter A Difference at Birth) How is that relevant to an argument? Or, when she met a fellow female researcher, she "immediately empathised with her". Objectivity anyone? The author clearly mixes up biological and social, choosing her evidence depending on advantage of that or another approach for her immediate argument. The social factors that we as humans developed only several thousands years ago cannot be cited to be as solid an evidence to hundreds of thousands of years of years of human evolution (Chapter The Old Women Who Wouldn't Die) I feel this book failed feminism, portraying it as a movement that wants to silence the scientific facts and forcefully level the scientific ground. It is the more upsetting, as after reading the book, as feminist as I am, I am convinced in the biological inborn imbalance of the sexes. Baron-Cohen, with his weighted and logical argumentation communicates more gravitas that the author, who is jumping from one topic to another, catching supporting arguments on the way from everywhere, starting from evolutionary biology to the 80s feminist movements. I do NOT recommend this book if one is looking to bolster their arguments in a scientific community when it comes to gender and science. What the book prompts one to do, is to continue the research.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lily ☁️

    “Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women. They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple data sets (...) we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.” Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter “Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women. They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple data sets (...) we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.” Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. For one, I didn't love the author's prose and style. A scientist says this positive or negative thought about women. Another scientist says 'no you're wrong!' Another scientists says 'actually I'm right!' That was the format... Plus, there was pretty overt bias that women are basically not significantly different from men in any cognitive or behavioral area, which I don't really buy. For example, in the argument about differences in deve I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. For one, I didn't love the author's prose and style. A scientist says this positive or negative thought about women. Another scientist says 'no you're wrong!' Another scientists says 'actually I'm right!' That was the format... Plus, there was pretty overt bias that women are basically not significantly different from men in any cognitive or behavioral area, which I don't really buy. For example, in the argument about differences in developmental having a biological vs a cultural cause, she clearly prefers the cultural explanation (as also evidenced in the beginning quote). While she does cycle to contrary evidence- namely babies of genital mutilation who are assigned different genders and then are unhappy, she neglects transgendered children- a huge omission. I also thought she relied too heavily on cherry picking animals and tribes living hunter gatherer lifestyles to fit her hypotheses and beliefs. Actually she even used negative descriptors for scientists with beliefs she didn't ascribe to and positive ones for scientists she did like. I did enjoy some historical segments of female discrimination and suppression. Certainly some insights into old, dated theories of women's inferiority were enlightening and I agreed with some arguments. I just didn't like much of the presentation. Too bad...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sookie

    Inferior collects information that systematically debunks, questions and provides newer researches on the ideology that exists and has propagated the imbalance between men and women. There is always social, cultural and political aspects to this large question but science has come with its own contrived objectivity which has stunted different voices. The research that do get quoted, become sounding board for many of the modern arguments, has never been repeated with same results. Scientists have Inferior collects information that systematically debunks, questions and provides newer researches on the ideology that exists and has propagated the imbalance between men and women. There is always social, cultural and political aspects to this large question but science has come with its own contrived objectivity which has stunted different voices. The research that do get quoted, become sounding board for many of the modern arguments, has never been repeated with same results. Scientists have left out half the species, women, in their anthropological quests as women became mere sidekicks in human history as men evolved. Its interesting to note that sexism that existing in society that was slowly recognizing evolutionary biology influenced minds like Darwin who differentiated between male and female evolution and goes as far as to say that the modern day man as well is better version of the species due to genetic advantage. Saini collects research from various disciplines and puts into a modern context that is most relevant. She cites research that has cemented perspectives in society (women's brain is 5 ounces less than man, for example) which in turn has influenced lawmakers and society at large. Over course of decades the research moved further and further away from investing time and resources to include women and female oriented studies, thus the myths that originated in Victorian parlors, imbibed into everyday society. It takes years to undo an ideology that is so deeply rooted in all of us, we don't realize how it has been hindering our own progress. Ironically, almost everything Saini says is known. Common Knowledge. Yet here we are in this century still battling issues that have existed for centuries. There has been progress, yes, but it isn't enough. In many parts of the world we see ideologies in men and women that should have been left in eighteenth century. Inferior shows systematic induction of these ideologies over centuries. The book makes a good tool of educating ourselves about the research that is prevalent and the gaps that exists in those research areas.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Faith Justice

    I love science and history and truly enjoy it when they overlap in books such as Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story. As a feminist, I keep up with gender-based research and have for several decades. Disproving bad science that stated women's minds, bodies, and emotions were inferior to men's was a key element of my job when I worked with school systems to implement Title IX in the 70's. Title IX a.k.a "the law that will destroy boys sports" in f I love science and history and truly enjoy it when they overlap in books such as Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story. As a feminist, I keep up with gender-based research and have for several decades. Disproving bad science that stated women's minds, bodies, and emotions were inferior to men's was a key element of my job when I worked with school systems to implement Title IX in the 70's. Title IX a.k.a "the law that will destroy boys sports" in football-crazy Ohio and basketball-obsessed Indiana where I did most of my work. Maybe those coaches and teachers were right. Look who took home most of the medals on the US team from the Rio Olympics. But Title IX was about so much more than sports--equal access for girls and women to all aspects of education. I knew about many of the studies described in this book, but it was still educational seeing them all pulled together and analysis of their techniques and possible biases hashed out. One of my favorite chapters dealt with brain science. Try as they might, neurologists and endocrinologists cannot find differences between the brains of males and females. There is far more variation within each sex than between them. Another favorite chapter was on women's sexuality which explored in depth the myth that women were naturally more modest, choosy, and had lower sex drives than men (only in those societies that demand it of women and punish the non-conformers). In all the chapters Saini comes to some conclusions based on the evidence, but her final chapter is ambiguous and (as a woman of a "certain age") my favorite of all--"The Old Women Who Wouldn't Die"--that looked at the evolution of women living after menopause. There are only a handful of species, including killer whales, where the females continue to live and thrive after their childbearing years are over. She discusses the "grandmother theory" which posits that a few long-lived females way back in the mists of time were able to contribute additional resources and important knowledge that favored their daughters and grandchildren. This set up a virtuous cycle that resulted in human females living well-past child bearing years. The opposite is the "rich old man" theory that said a few long-lived high status males had access to many females and passed on their long-life proclivity to their offspring including daughters. You can imagine which theory I favor, but there isn't enough evidence or ways of studying to come to any provable conclusion. We'll just have to live with all of us old broads continuing to positively contribute to society long past the time when we're "useful" as incubators. I found the book quite readable, but I like this kind of thing. Saini does a great job of putting the science in historical and social context. She is NOT "male bashing." Individual men who did poor science or let a male agenda color their conclusions, might feel pinched. But this is not a "women are better in every way" book. It shows how science was used to marginalize women, as the basis for laws and societal norms. By updating that science, Saini demolishes those arguments for keeping women from having equal access to all the advantages of modern life. She writes plainly and gives lots of background for the studies, so you don't have to read them yourself. This was an ARC and I missed the index which will be in the final version. Highly recommended for casual science geeks and people who like women. Misogynists and fundamentalists of all stripes should give it a pass. I learned long ago before the current post-fact fad, that people with biases can't be persuaded with facts. However, sometimes--just sometimes--they can be persuaded with stories and personal connections. Note: I received this book through an Early Reader program in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    I can never decide which angers me more: sloppy science or stupid science reporting. Funny how much of both one sees reinforcing prejudice. As if tiny differences in averages between two groups could possibly justify discrimination against individuals. People are just the worst. And yet there are scientists in every field doing excellent work, publishing reproducible results, much of which is ignored by popular media and leaders in the field who get lots of research dollars for publishing stupid I can never decide which angers me more: sloppy science or stupid science reporting. Funny how much of both one sees reinforcing prejudice. As if tiny differences in averages between two groups could possibly justify discrimination against individuals. People are just the worst. And yet there are scientists in every field doing excellent work, publishing reproducible results, much of which is ignored by popular media and leaders in the field who get lots of research dollars for publishing stupid conclusions that can be used to justify ongoing systemic abuse and discrimination against women and girls. The chancellor of UNC -CH is paid 3/4 of what the chancellor of State is paid. It isn't fair, it isn't just, it isn't defensible. Women could change it if we cared to. I despair every time some public figure says "I'm not a feminist but". How is it hard to sign on to the idea that women are humans and are therefore deserving of being treated equally? How can any politician be elected who won't work to acknowledge that women deserve to be recognized as legally equal citizens in the US constitution? If people insist on treating trivial differences between men and women On Average as more significant than the enormous similarities, I can't stop them. But I will fight like hell when they try and use that crap to justify discrimination against men or women. We should no more tolerate being denied fair wages than we should put up with other forms of sexual harassment at work. No one wants to do the housework, but no one should get stuck doing twice as much of it when she comes home from work. Surely one reason households are not fair is that work isn't either and women who are kept poorer by their jobs don't have the bargaining power in their homes, or the financial independence to leave an abusive home. Thankfully the kids these days are less inclined to put up with it. Library copy

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Essential reading now that the likes of google engineers are talking about the "science" of female inferiority. This book shows exactly how solid the science of brain differences is. Spoiler: not solid at all. Moreover, it demonstrates through several clear case studies how important representation is in scientific findings. Ever since I read this book, I've been seeing study after study that says that they tested drugs only on men. Why are men assumed to be the norm physiologically and yet we c Essential reading now that the likes of google engineers are talking about the "science" of female inferiority. This book shows exactly how solid the science of brain differences is. Spoiler: not solid at all. Moreover, it demonstrates through several clear case studies how important representation is in scientific findings. Ever since I read this book, I've been seeing study after study that says that they tested drugs only on men. Why are men assumed to be the norm physiologically and yet we claim that there are all of these differences between our brains? Both are crap. Read this book. Also the cordelia fine Testosterone Rex is good too

  16. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    [June 13, 2018] This is an excellent book for those interested in gender equality in the sciences. Saini reviews the changing scientific theories about sex differences in several different disciplines, from evolutionary theory to biology to psychology. She obviously has strong personal feelings about the mistreatment of women, but that's not what this book is about. She describes how the various sexist theories were developed, and how they've been disproven. And when they haven't been fully dispr [June 13, 2018] This is an excellent book for those interested in gender equality in the sciences. Saini reviews the changing scientific theories about sex differences in several different disciplines, from evolutionary theory to biology to psychology. She obviously has strong personal feelings about the mistreatment of women, but that's not what this book is about. She describes how the various sexist theories were developed, and how they've been disproven. And when they haven't been fully disproven, she's honest about that. It's a pretty quick read, and well written. I found the book very illuminating, but not surprising.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rhode

    The publisher should sell the print edition plastic-wrapped with a highlighter tucked in. I don't ever highlight print books, but for this I would make an exception. Oooh! And also include a little card, with the most useful facts printed on it in fine print on both sides, that I could slip into my wallet for easy reference. Honestly, this was the book I've often thought needed to be written. I follow the topic, so I'd heard about most of this science, but it's awfully handy to have gathered in The publisher should sell the print edition plastic-wrapped with a highlighter tucked in. I don't ever highlight print books, but for this I would make an exception. Oooh! And also include a little card, with the most useful facts printed on it in fine print on both sides, that I could slip into my wallet for easy reference. Honestly, this was the book I've often thought needed to be written. I follow the topic, so I'd heard about most of this science, but it's awfully handy to have gathered in one place. Plus, it's beautifully written: she's readable. Plus professional. There were times I wanted to scream in frustration at the sexist things scientists did -- the kind of stuff that makes you get ranty -- yet the author always felt even tempered. So now I am wondering how to get copies of this into more people's hands. As in seriously considering a bulk purchase. It's that useful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Klinta

    ""Science is supposed to be objective," says Crittenden." I don't think you can find much objectivity in this book. The book featured a lot of male against female research, which would be fine if it would merit to a conclusion. Unfortunately very often the "debate" about a certain topic went on, but no real conclusion was reached, which left me confused - why was such a chapter included in the first place? The book was very chaotic and I had a hard time understanding what is going on at first. Th ""Science is supposed to be objective," says Crittenden." I don't think you can find much objectivity in this book. The book featured a lot of male against female research, which would be fine if it would merit to a conclusion. Unfortunately very often the "debate" about a certain topic went on, but no real conclusion was reached, which left me confused - why was such a chapter included in the first place? The book was very chaotic and I had a hard time understanding what is going on at first. The different opinions (!) that are thrown at you don't seem to be enough to merit for a "scientific conclusion". It appears that the author tries to show different approaches to the issues she discusses in each chapter, but at the same time without knowing the pool of research, the reader has only two choices either blindly follow the author's opinion - the direction the author tries to steer you in (!) or to conclude, that no one really knows what the fuck is going on with the humankind, what are the roles, why everything is happening as it is and really there's no safe bet how find out. I'm saying opinions because although the author talks about research, very often she uses expressions that make the reader think about scientist's and her own "beliefs", not "conclusions after lifelong research". Mixing biology with sociology seemed quite an issue here as well. "Inferior: The true power of women and the science that shows it" - there is no such science. Most of the "science" I saw in this book wasn't conclusive, it was a biased look with scattered bits of research all over the place which was lacking evidence. The research obviously needs to be continued taking more serious approaches than discussed in this book, that is the only thing I was convinced of. The book covered way too many topics, some serious issues were skimmed over. Why were they mentioned at all if they weren't fully explored? This book tried to do too much, obviously. So much that after reading this book I genuinely feel like the researchers (and by extension me after reading this book) know nothing. And what was the deal with attacking Darwin so many times?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Lots of science, but the insights are thorough and fascinating. Saini does an impressive job of synthesizing a broad body of research with accuracy while maintaining a conversational tone. Her approach of sticking to the facts in the face of a subject that is particularly dichotomizing allows even the old research to speak with a new voice. I'm so glad I read this and I really enjoyed the audio narration.

  20. 4 out of 5

    aicha

    i loved this book and what it dealt with. Even though it was a scientific study, it actually wasn't that hard to read, it had very simple concepts that anybody can understand and boy did i understand a lot. I'm thankful that a book like this was written, yes because of what it contained, it's eye opening and everyone should read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Viv JM

    3.5 stars - felt it could have gone into more depth, and a bit too 'journalist-y' for my tastes but interesting reading nonetheless.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amir Tesla

    Two starts for the exceptional writing style.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    Sometimes it seems like smug people like to point smugly to science to justify their smug opinions about their superiority. Alas, many of these people turn out to be men declaiming the natural inferiority of women. As much as some men would like you to believe it, however, “science” doesn’t prove that women are naturally inferior to men. As Angela Saini explains in her book of the same name, “science” backs up what many of us have observed for millennia: it’s complicated, y’all. Inferior referenc Sometimes it seems like smug people like to point smugly to science to justify their smug opinions about their superiority. Alas, many of these people turn out to be men declaiming the natural inferiority of women. As much as some men would like you to believe it, however, “science” doesn’t prove that women are naturally inferior to men. As Angela Saini explains in her book of the same name, “science” backs up what many of us have observed for millennia: it’s complicated, y’all. Inferior references Delusions of Gender , which I also read recently. Whereas Cordelia Fine’s book is about the perceived differences between men and women (particularly neurologically), Saini is more interested in examining scientific explanations that have historically been used to justify the view that women are somehow the “inferior” sex. So, while there is some overlap between these two books, they by and large have different theses. Saini takes us right back to Darwin and his theories of natural selection and sex selection. She explains how Darwin, as important as his writing was for the development of the theory of evolution, nevertheless maintained sexist views about the role of women—and people like Caroline Kennard challenged him on it. From here, Saini starts to examine certain apparent biological differences between men and women—such as the fact that “females get sicker but males die quicker.” Finally, Saini confronts outright myths and misconceptions that have propagated across science and history, and she tackles how it’s difficult to determine how much of our sexual and social mores are biological or cultural in origin. My overall impression of this book is that much of what Saini says here won’t be, overall, that surprising if you’ve been interested in this topic for a while like I have. Nevertheless, what makes Inferior so interesting is the amount of detail. There is a wealth of knowledge here. It is, as she says in her introduction, a resource that you can refer to if you need specific evidence when you’re trying to refute someone’s annoyingly essentialist arguments (though I’m not sure I have the memory to actually remember these studies off the top of my head, sadly). The last few chapters are fascinating in their facts about the diversity of human sexuality. I loved learning about various cultures that have matriarchal elements to them, particularly when it comes to sexual behaviour and infidelity. For example, I hadn’t heard of the Mosuo “walking marriage” before. Saini does a good job highlighting these various departures from what we consider “normal” from our stunted Western perspective without exoticizing or fetishizing them. I do wish she had been somewhat more critical of evolutionary psychology in general…. Saini admirably criticizes specific experiments in evolutionary psychology, and she is quick to point out how various biases (cough, old white guys, cough) can taint results. Yet she doesn’t really delve into the problematic nature of evolutionary psychology in general. Saini demonstrates that even with the amazing tools of scientific method available to us, we need to be careful about the conclusions we draw, the theories we publish, and the statements we make about so-called “differences” between sexes. We are so obsessed with creating categories and labels and putting people in boxes, when the reality is that we are complicated, and that there’s a lot more to our bodies than certain chromosomes or specific hormones might determine.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy Neftzger

    This is one of those books that needed to be written in order to explain the gaps in research as well as real life. There are differences between men and women that research has identified that don't actually exist, while at the same time missing some of the true differences. This is a study in bias as much (or more) as it is a study in gender differences. Science is a quest for truth, and while the truth may ultimately be revealed, our biases can mislead us down some dark alleys along that ques This is one of those books that needed to be written in order to explain the gaps in research as well as real life. There are differences between men and women that research has identified that don't actually exist, while at the same time missing some of the true differences. This is a study in bias as much (or more) as it is a study in gender differences. Science is a quest for truth, and while the truth may ultimately be revealed, our biases can mislead us down some dark alleys along that quest. What is interesting is how these biases manifest in different cultures and how much truth can be ignored by so many highly educated individuals. A very interesting read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Would it shock you to know that the men with a vested interest in the status quo support science that doubles down on that position?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annikky

    4- A good introduction into how science has handled gender so far (spoiler: not particularly well). It’s accessible and enlightening, although probably not very surprising if you are interested in these kinds of topics - most of us know about bonobos by now. I wasn’t fully convinced by Saini’s approach, though: it isn’t a full-on feminist thesis, rage against established/out-dated theories; but despite its attempts at objectivity, it isn’t unbiased either. I suspect it may have been more powerfu 4- A good introduction into how science has handled gender so far (spoiler: not particularly well). It’s accessible and enlightening, although probably not very surprising if you are interested in these kinds of topics - most of us know about bonobos by now. I wasn’t fully convinced by Saini’s approach, though: it isn’t a full-on feminist thesis, rage against established/out-dated theories; but despite its attempts at objectivity, it isn’t unbiased either. I suspect it may have been more powerful if she had chosen one or the other.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Iset

    Although the book clearly draws inspiration from Professor Fine's book, Delusion of Gender, and sometimes discusses the same studies and published papers, often it brings different material to light and expands upon Fine's work. The book also isn't afraid to interview scientists from both sides of the debate, and discuss studies which do not support as well as those that do. Perhaps frustratingly, was the finding again and again by scientists that studies that had not had their results independe Although the book clearly draws inspiration from Professor Fine's book, Delusion of Gender, and sometimes discusses the same studies and published papers, often it brings different material to light and expands upon Fine's work. The book also isn't afraid to interview scientists from both sides of the debate, and discuss studies which do not support as well as those that do. Perhaps frustratingly, was the finding again and again by scientists that studies that had not had their results independently replicated were picked up by popular media, rehashed to say something that they hadn't concluded at all, and then used in public debate (say, online discussion forums) as even further evidence for something which neither the study nor even the rehashed article had claimed at all. What ultimately shines through is the incredibly human failing - our preference for confirmation bias - and when alternative evidence is presented that challenges the existing paradigm of how gender roles operate in our society, we are more likely to dismiss it as aberrant or a freak fluke.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    A brief but interesting overview of some of the ways in which science—though presented as impartial—has in fact done much to reinforce societal and cultural norms about binary sex and gender. Angela Saini points out that biological differences between male and female bodies are still only imperfectly understood, and are not as clear-cut as are commonly thought. When it comes to male and female brains, it's not clear that there are inherent differences at all. Inferior is, as I said, a brief overv A brief but interesting overview of some of the ways in which science—though presented as impartial—has in fact done much to reinforce societal and cultural norms about binary sex and gender. Angela Saini points out that biological differences between male and female bodies are still only imperfectly understood, and are not as clear-cut as are commonly thought. When it comes to male and female brains, it's not clear that there are inherent differences at all. Inferior is, as I said, a brief overview, and so Saini remains focused on biological sex as opposed to gender—which is understandable, but means that her exploration is perhaps not as incisive as it could be. There is some mention of intersex people, but Saini does seem to presume heterosexuality as the historical default (I think the only mention of same-sex acts is when discussing great apes). Still, this is an interesting synthesis of an important topic, and well worth the read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Reading the reviews of this book, I'm noticing that some people are starting their reviews with disclaimers like "I'm not a feminist but I like this book," and "This book is feminist, but it's still good." Are we serious here? Even though this book clearly argues that a more feminist science is actually more accurate and better able to avoid bias, people are still tiptoeing around the word "feminist" as if it's a pile of stinky political dog poo? The whole POINT of this book is to show that by u Reading the reviews of this book, I'm noticing that some people are starting their reviews with disclaimers like "I'm not a feminist but I like this book," and "This book is feminist, but it's still good." Are we serious here? Even though this book clearly argues that a more feminist science is actually more accurate and better able to avoid bias, people are still tiptoeing around the word "feminist" as if it's a pile of stinky political dog poo? The whole POINT of this book is to show that by using basic feminist frameworks, we can arrive at a MORE objective science about sex differences. Feminist! Feminist! Feminist! Ok, there. I scared off all the folks who can't handle this word. Now can we have a more rational discussion about it?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I love nonfiction that reads like fiction. I'm not a fan of textbooks however. I was hoping for the NTRLF, but this book felt more like a textbook. The information was solid. I simply like books that are a bit more energetic.

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