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Скачать книгу Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting The Story

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting The Story

Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting The Story
Angela Saini

‘Inferior is more than just a book. It’s a battle cry – and right now, it’s having a galvanising effect on its core fanbase’ ObserverAre women more nurturing than men?Are men more promiscuous than women?Are males the naturally dominant sex?And can science give us an impartial answer to these questions?Taking us on an eye-opening journey through science, Inferior challenges our preconceptions about men and women, investigating the ferocious gender wars that burn in biology, psychology and anthropology. Angela Saini revisits the landmark experiments that have informed our understanding, lays bare the problem of bias in research, and speaks to the scientists finally exploring the truth about the female sex.The result is an enlightening and deeply empowering account of women’s minds, bodies and evolutionary history. Interrogating what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, Inferior unveils a fresh view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded.


Copyright (#u0bc67060-a13d-5f77-853b-86359a55f230)

4th Estate

An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

www.4thEstate.co.uk (http://www.4thEstate.co.uk)

This eBook first published in Great Britain by 4th Estate in 2017

Copyright © Angela Saini 2017

Cover photograph © Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash

The right of Angela Saini to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008172039

Ebook Edition © May 2017 ISBN: 9780008172046

Version: 2017-12-12

Dedication (#u0bc67060-a13d-5f77-853b-86359a55f230)

For my boys, Mukul and Aneurin


Cover (#u2d4c06eb-39ca-5170-b9ee-42fbf8222858)

Title Page (#ue5be5e74-8a5f-5f1c-bf62-908a516e0eb9)

Copyright (#ueee87d63-97e5-5f19-99fa-b2c8b9f264a4)

Dedication (#u580232ca-351d-5fd5-9f8f-95b877fe9416)

Introduction (#u0d50021a-0212-51be-b18b-4550da918e95)

1 Woman’s Inferiority to Man (#u98605b26-e355-5e11-9836-dce859e3475b)

2 Females Get Sicker But Males Die Quicker (#uc687cbde-7eed-51dc-a35a-40d1b8442cfe)

3 A Difference at Birth (#ufd15ea60-7c60-5f08-9e32-3986cebd77e1)

4 The Missing Five Ounces of the Female Brain (#litres_trial_promo)

5 Women’s Work (#litres_trial_promo)

6 Choosy, Not Chaste (#litres_trial_promo)

7 Why Men Dominate (#litres_trial_promo)

8 The Old Women Who Wouldn’t Die (#litres_trial_promo)

Afterword (#litres_trial_promo)

Acknowledgements (#litres_trial_promo)

References (#litres_trial_promo)

Index (#litres_trial_promo)

By the Same Author (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Introduction (#u0bc67060-a13d-5f77-853b-86359a55f230)

For centuries, scientists have influenced decision-makers on important issues including abortion rights, granting women the vote, and how schools educate us. They have shaped how we think about our minds and bodies, and our relationships with each other. And of course, we trust scientists to give us the objective facts. We believe that what science offers is a story free from prejudice. It is the story of us, starting from the very dawn of evolution.

Yet when it comes to women, so much of this story is wrong.

I must have been about sixteen years old, on the playing field of my school in south-east London, watching a home-made rocket zoom into the sky. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Fresh from the nerdy triumph of having been elected chair of the school’s first science society, I’d organised a day of building small model rockets before setting them off. I couldn’t think of anything better. The night before, I calculated whether we had enough construction materials for the crowds that were sure to come.

I shouldn’t have worried. On the day, I was the only one who turned up. My chemistry teacher Mr Easterbrook, a kind man, stayed and helped anyway.

If you were the geek growing up, you’ll recognise how lonely it can be. If you were the female geek, you’ll know it’s far lonelier. By the time I reached sixth form, I was the only girl in my chemistry class of eight students. I was the only girl in my mathematics class of about a dozen. And when I decided to study engineering a couple of years later, I found myself the only woman in a class of nine at university.

Things haven’t changed much since then. Statistics collected by the Women’s Engineering Society in 2016 show that only 9 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK is female, and just over 15 per cent of engineering undergraduates are women. Figures from WISE, a campaign in the UK to promote women in science, engineering and technology, reveal that in 2015 women made up a little more than 14 per cent of their workforces overall. According to the National Science Foundation in the United States, although women make up nearly half the scientific workforce there, they remain under-represented in engineering, physics and mathematics.

Standing on that playing field by myself aged sixteen, I couldn’t figure it out. I belonged to a household of three sisters, all brilliant at maths. Girls stood alongside boys as the highest achievers at my school. According to the Women’s Engineering Society, there’s very little gender difference in take-up and achievement in the core science and maths subjects at GCSE level in British schools. Indeed, girls are now more likely than boys to get the highest grades in these subjects. In the USA, women have earned around half of all undergraduate science and engineering degrees since the late 1990s.

Yet as they get older, fewer women seem to stick with science. At the top, they’re in an obvious minority. And this is a pattern that goes as far back as anyone can remember. Between 1901 and 2016, of the 911 people awarded a Nobel Prize, only forty-eight were women. Of these, sixteen women won the Peace Prize, and fourteen the Prize for Literature. The Fields Medal, the world’s greatest honour in mathematics, has been won by a woman only once, in 2014 by the Iranian-born Maryam Mirzakhani.

A couple of years after I graduated from university, in January 2005, the president of Harvard University, economist Lawrence Summers, gave voice to one controversial explanation for this gap. At a private conference he suggested that ‘the unfortunate truth’ behind why there are so few top women scientists at elite universities might in some part have to do with ‘issues of intrinsic aptitude’. In other words, that there’s a biological difference between women and men. A few academics defended him, but by and large Summers’ remarks were met by public outrage. Within a year he announced his resignation as president.

But there have always been gently whispered doubts.

Summers may have dared to say it, but how many people haven’t thought it? That there might be an innate, essential difference between the sexes that sets us apart. That the female brain is fundamentally distinct from the male brain, explaining why we see so few women in the top jobs in science. That hushed uncertainty is what lies at the heart of this book. The question mark hanging over us, raising the possibility that women are destined never to achieve parity with men because their bodies and minds simply aren’t capable of it.

Even today, we feed our babies fantasies in pink or blue. We buy toy trucks for our boys and dolls for our girls, and delight when they love them. These early divisions reflect our belief that there’s a string of biological differences between the sexes, which perhaps shape us for different roles in society. Our relationships are guided by the notion, fed by many decades of scientific research, that men are more promiscuous and women more monogamous. Our visions of the past are loaded with these myths. When we picture early humans, we imagine powerful men striding out into the wilderness to hunt for food, while softer, gentler women stay back, tending fires and caring for children. We go so far as to wonder whether men may be the naturally dominant sex because they’re physically bigger and stronger.

In the journey to understand ourselves better and to distil facts from fiction, we of course turn to biology. It is science, we believe, that holds the power to resolve the dark, niggling feeling that never seems to go away, no matter how much equality legislation is passed. The feeling that we aren’t the same. That, in fact, our biology might even explain the sexual inequality that has existed, and continues to exist, across the world.

This is dangerous territory, for obvious reasons. Feminists in particular have passionately argued against having our biology determine how we live. Many believe that what science says shouldn’t be a factor in the battle for basic rights. Everyone deserves a level playing field, they say – and they’re right. But then, we can’t simply ignore biology either. If there are differences between the sexes, we can’t help but want to know. But more than that, if we want to build a fairer society, we need to be able to understand those differences and accommodate them.

The problem is that answers in science aren’t everything they seem. When we turn to scientists for resolution, we assume they will be neutral. We think the scientific method can’t be biased or loaded against women. But we’re wrong. The puzzle of why there are so few women in science is crucial to understanding why this bias exists. Not because it tells us something about what women are capable of, but because it explains why science has failed to rid us of the gender stereotypes and dangerous myths that we’ve been labouring under for centuries. Women are so grossly under-represented in modern science because, for most of history, they have been treated as intellectual inferiors and deliberately excluded from it. It should come as no surprise, then, that the scientific establishment has also painted a distorted picture of the female sex. This, in turn, has skewed how science looks and what it says even now.

When I stood on my own on that playing field, aged sixteen, shooting rockets into the air, I was in love with science. I thought it was a world of clear answers, untainted by subjectivity or prejudice. A beacon of rationality free from bias. What I didn’t yet understand was that the reason I found myself alone that day was because it’s not.

In a study published in 2012, psychologist Corinne Moss-Racusin and a team of researchers at Yale University explored the problem of bias in science by conducting a study in which over a hundred scientists were asked to assess a résumé submitted by an applicant for a vacancy as a laboratory manager. Every résumé was identical, except that half were given under a female name and half under a male name.

When they were asked to comment on these supposed potential employees, scientists rated those with female names significantly lower in competence and hireability. They were also less willing to mentor them, and offered far lower starting salaries. Interestingly, the authors added in their paper, which appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: ‘The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student.’ Prejudice is so steeped in the culture of science, their results suggested, that women are themselves discriminating against other women.

Sexism isn’t something that’s only perpetrated by men against women. It can be woven into the fabric of a system. And in modern science, that system has always been male. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which keeps global figures on women in science, estimates that in 2013 just a little more than a quarter of all researchers in the world were women. In North America and Western Europe the figure was 32 per cent. In Ethiopia, only 13 per cent.
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