Books, life the universe

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sexual Paradox

I am currently reading a book called Sexual Paradox by Susan Pinker. It is excellent and very well written. She is, among other things, a child psychologist. She decided to contact some of her former patients to see how they were getting on with their lives as adults. She also contacted women who had been very bright at school, done well at University, had high powered jobs and then in their 30s and 40s changed careers because they wanted more than just a high powered job with a big salary.

She found the men - who had dyslexia or Asperger's syndrome - had mainly done very well for themselves in purely worldly terms; finding ways round their disability or going into spheres which made the most of their particular qualities. There was a chef who was dyslexic but had no problems reading his colleague's scrawled orders; the man who was totally hopeless in social situations but brilliant in his chosen field - computers. Apparently dyslexia, Autism and Asperger's are all mainly male problems and it is thought due to too much testosterone while the baby is in the womb. So a result of nature not nurture.

What I found most interesting is that w0men who have Asperger's - about 10% of the total sufferers - are far better in social situations than the males affected. This reflects the fact that girls develop social awareness much earlier than boys.

I have always accepted that men and women - in general - don't have the same qualities. But I don't believe that is a reason for denying either sex access to particular jobs. People mix up equality with the idea the sexes are the same. Many of those who believe the sexes are different think that excuses favouring one sex over the other which I don't believe should happen - any more than positive discrimination should happen. We may never have a situation where there are 50/50 men and women in the House of Commons or 50/50 men and women on the boards of the top companies but as long as there is no discrimination that is an acceptable situation in my view.

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