Expanding the Role of Gender Essentialism in the Single-Sex Education Debate: A Commentary on Liben
- 1.1k Downloads
In this commentary we expand on Liben’s exploration of the effects of differing gender conceptualizations – gender essentialism and gender constructivism – on the single-sex education debate within the United States. We examine these conceptualizations in the context of current behavioral and neuroscientific research, which we argue undermines an essentialist view of males and females, while supporting an expanded constructivist version of the account endorsed by Liben. We then extend Liben’s work to argue that gender essentialism has indirectly facilitated popularization of neuroscientific research used to support claims of brain-based evidence in favor of single-sex education. Finally, we develop Liben’s observations regarding the association of gender essentialism with negative attitudes towards reducing gender-differentiation, by examining the relation between gender essentialism and the folk concept of innateness. This reveals the empirical challenge to essentialist arguments that social interventions designed to reduce gender-differentiation go against nature.
KeywordsGender essentialism Gender constructivism Single-sex education Innateness Gender differences Neuroscience
- Carr, P. B., & Steele, C. M. (2010). Stereotype threat affects financial decision making. Psychological Science, 21, 1411–1416. doi:10.1177/0956797610384146.
- Fine, C. (2010a). Delusions of gender: How our minds, society, and neurosexism create difference. New York: WW Norton.Google Scholar
- Fine, C., & Fidler, F. (2014). Sex and power: Why sex/gender neuroscience should motivate statistical reform. In J. Clausen & N. Levy (Eds.), Handbook of neuroethics (pp. 1447–1462). Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
- Griffiths, P. E. (2009). The distinction between innate and acquired characteristics. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2009 ed.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2009/entries/innate-acquired/.
- Haier, R. J., Karama, S., Lebya, L., & Jung, R. E. (2009). MRI assessment of cortical thickness and functional activity changes in adolescent girls following three months of practice on a visual-spatial task. BMC Research Notes, 2, 174. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-174.
- Hines, M. (2004). Brain gender. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hoffman, G. (2012). What, if anything, can neuroscience tell us about gender differences? In R. Bluhm, A. Jacobson, & H. Maibom (Eds.), Neurofeminism: Issues at the intersection of feminist theory and cognitive science (pp. 30–55). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Joel, D. (2011). Male or female? Brains are intersex. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 5(Article 57). doi:10.3389/fnint.2011.00057
- Joel, D. (2014). Sex, gender, and brain: A problem of conceptualization. In S. Schmitz & G. Höppner (Eds.), Gendered neurocultures: Feminist and queer perspectives on current brain discourses (pp. 169–186). University of Vienna: Zaglossus.Google Scholar
- Johnson, J., Wilke, A., & Weber, E. U. (2004). Beyond a trait view of risk taking: A domain-specific scale measuring risk perceptions, expected benefits, and perceived-risk attitudes in German-speaking populations. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 35, 153–163.Google Scholar
- Liben, L. S. (2015). Probability values and human values in evaluating single-sex education. Sex Roles, this issue. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0428-9.
- Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Meynell, L. (2008). The power and promise of developmental systems theory. Les Ateliers de L’Éthique, 3, 88–103.Google Scholar
- Rippon, G., Jordan-Young, R., Kaiser, A., & Fine, C. (2014). Recommendations for sex/gender neuroimaging research: Key principles and implications for research design, analysis, and interpretation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 650. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00650.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schmitz, S. (2010). Sex, gender, and the brain - biological determinism versus socio-cultural constructivism. In I. Klinge & C. Wiesemann (Eds.), Sex and gender in biomedicine: Theories, methodologies, results (pp. 57–76). Göttingen: Univ.-Verl. Göttingen.Google Scholar
- Terman, L. M., & Miles, C. C. (1936). Sex and personality. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar