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Estrogen Linked to Research and Programming Skills

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the girly-men-and-menly-girls dept.

Biotech 83

Neil Halelamien writes "Psychologists at the University of Bath have found that male researchers and programmers tend to have higher levels of estrogen, a hormone which promotes development of the right side of the brain (responsible for spatial and analytical skills). Increased estrogen was also linked to having longer index fingers and a decreased likelihood of having children. Men teaching mathematics and physics tended to have unusually long index fingers, while women in the social sciences tended to have more testosterone. The psychologists also found that male and female students with a smaller difference between their index and ring finger lengths tended to do better on their Java programming exams. The research leaves open the question of why women (who typically have more estrogen than men) aren't more prevalent in the science and technology fields."

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83 comments

OMG!!!!111one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10596154)

Thsi iz a gud syt!!! [nambla.org]

XOXOXO


Thsi won iz tu [xdfgf.com]

TTFN!!

Oh, great. (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596159)


Does this mean we'll start getting spam for products to lengthen your index finger?

Re:Oh, great. (1)

gadget junkie (618542) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597255)

Where's IG NOBEL [improb.com] when we need it?

and a.... (2, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596165)

..."and a decreased likelihood of having children."

This explains a lot about geeks ;) Chicken or egg problem?

Re:and a.... (1)

ErrataMatrix (774950) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598078)

I figured it was b/c of all those nice electrons flying though my nadZ.

Another.. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10596203)

There also seems to be a link between the index finger, ring finger and sport abilities..

http://www.liv.ac.uk/pro/news/press_releases/200 1/ ringfingers.htm

Re:Another.. (1)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 9 years ago | (#10599667)

Good site. There's an unnecessary space though. Here's a link [liv.ac.uk] .

= 9J =

Fairly explanatory (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596219)

"The psychologists also found that male and female students with a smaller difference between their index and ring finger lengths tended to do better on their Java programming exams."

Gee, imagine finger length being correlated to programming skills.

Re:Fairly explanatory (5, Funny)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596658)


Gee, imagine finger length being correlated to programming skills.

It's not the size that matters, it's how you use it.

Re:Fairly explanatory (1)

BhAaD (692949) | more than 9 years ago | (#10600850)

Thats what they say about your dingdong too :P.

Re:Fairly explanatory (1)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#10603183)

The only correlation that would make sense is the amount of typing on a keyboard. Long class and variable names cause more hits on the keyboard. As I am writing, I am currently finding out that the index finger is the one I use the most.

So probably, my index get shorten by absorbing shocks on the keyboard.

Otherwise, and more seriously, this kind of correlation is at best funny, and a very bad interpretation of statistics at worse

Re:Fairly explanatory (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 8 years ago | (#10615370)

It probably has more to do with typing ability. Can you imagine how tough it must be if your fingers are all different lengths?

So the insults are true? (4, Funny)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596220)

Psychologists at the University of Bath have found that male researchers and programmers tend to have higher levels of estrogen, a hormone which promotes development of the right side of the brain

I guess this is why geek types are less macho. Of course, I am a typical muscle bound macho type, and will spend my nights trying to hack anyone who said otherwise, the only way I get my estrogen s through osmosis via genital contact like any other red blooded male.

o.O

I can imagine spam for testosterone to develop you left side of your brain.

The right side of the brain is commonly reffered to as the arty farty part of the brain, it is thepart that helps you recognise yourself in photos, which is why women take 1hr to get ready, but answer me this, why do geeks take less time to get ready than our estrogen deficient jock counterparts?

Stereotypes aside, dyslexia is formed form dual activity in right and left sides of the brain, intellectual types often have dyslexia and geeks too, whihc may be because of hormonal issues and right/left conflicts.

Or looking at too much p0rn. One or the other.

Re:So the insults are true? (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596307)

I prefer to take mine orally. ;)

Re:So the insults are true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10596683)

Tranny, eh?

Re:So the insults are true? (4, Informative)

Singletoned (619322) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596812)

dyslexia is formed form dual activity in right and left sides of the brain, intellectual types often have dyslexia and geeks too, whihc may be because of hormonal issues and right/left conflicts.

I'd be interested to see where you got this information from. Currently there isn't even enough conclusive reasearch to say what dyslexia is, or even what all the symptoms are. A lot is known from experience of dealing with dyslexics, but most of the research done has been inconclusive.

(I say this as a practising dyslexic my self).

The British Dylsexia Association [google.co.uk]

Re:So the insults are true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10607158)

You're a practicing dyslexic?

So, say, a dyslexic could just "get better" if we told them to stop practicing and try regular reading instead?

Re:So the insults are true? (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613266)

Well I do recall reading an article, I must say that my conclusion might be my own - I sometimes think on so many different threads it is hard to remember.

I guess because I read that dyslexia occurs when a conflict of reading the words meaning and understanding the words shape.

Like reading the word 'green' coloured purple, and someone asking you what colour is the word.

Mark my words, if this was physics people would nod and say, sound reasonable, give the man a prize. :-)

I am not dyslexic, but I am sure I read enough about it hwne I heard the gov. gives money for dyslexics to buy a computer :-)

I then brought in the idea of this article that geek types occur because of right/left balance issues, and that there is a suggestion that many geek types are dyslexic.

Nothing more...

(I say this as a practising dyslexic my self). (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 8 years ago | (#10613601)

Practicing? Practising to be more dyslexic, less dyslexic or is it you religion? (as in a non-pratising[insert-crazy-religious-type-here[or- sane-one]])

Anyway, to address the issue - dyslexia is based on (or related to) right/left brain conditions accoridng to this research (below) and also hormonal conditions apply according to:

Are boys affected more than girls?

Three times as many boys as girls are affected, and the role of the hormone testosterone during the fetal stage is being investigated as a possible cause of inherited (developmental) dyslexia.


Although that would suggest less dyslexia ammongst geek types is they have more estrogen.

http://www.dyslexia.com/science/different_pathwa ys .htm

This shows that dyslexic people use thier right brain for left brain tasks. This is the symptom of dyslexia, which is what I said. (formed from - ok misleading, I mean caused by, but not developed because of).

Yes the research is inconclusive, but it does seem that if you seperate it out efficiently:

Possible causes:
environmental dampening of left/right brain stimulous ('glue ear?')

Visible Symptoms (net effect):
Various

Underlying condition:
Right/left brain confusion - brain forces pathways to be created because of the nature of right/left stimulus (visual, touch, aural, dont know about taste/smell - seperate areas of brain? maybe there are people who are taste dyslexic or smell-dyslexic (pardon my terminology))

So if you grew up without right sde stimulus, then you may progress through a type of dyslexia, my guess is, as apparent through researhc, dyslexia is the name given to an observable conidtion exhibited by an individual that stems from a *different* but perhaps not ab-normal (except if you look at a statistic model) organisational setup of the brain, in response to the dichtomous processing of right/left simulii and the environmental conditions that modified them in the subject.

Wow that was more bullshit than a SCO legal document, but yeah, that is my guess.

DISCLAIMER 1: I have no direct experience or reading on dyslexia, but a mild interest in organisational structure in the brain, like the recent rat brain controlling flight sim.

DISCLAIMER 2: I might be wrong.

DISCLAIMER 3: You might be wrong.

Re:So the insults are true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598171)

I am a typical muscle bound macho type, ... via genital contact like any other red blooded male.

Anyone else read that initially as "... contact *with* any ..."? Or maybe that's just my resentment showing.

Estrogen info (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596234)

Before running out and stocking up on man-boobifier, please read up on estrogen [menopause-online.com] .

Re:Estrogen info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598826)

/me munches some wild yams

Pr()n (5, Funny)

cL0h (624108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596241)

Males with higher levels of estrogen (what a difficult word to spell) would have lower sex drives andbe less distracted by all the lovely filthy pictures just a couple of clicks away......

"I could finish this programming task or I could...... oh WOW, is that really possible"

Typically Useless Psych Detail (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10596254)

Great, but so what?

Does this just give all the bullies justification for pushing the 'girlymens' faces in the bathrooms in between compiles, or something?

Oh, no, I get it.. if we want to breed a super-race of ultra-nerdy intellects, the kind who don't do anything really productive but are good at convincing everyone who doesn't speak their little language that its 'worthwhile' to pay them squillions so they can keep mouthing off, then all we need do is up the estrogen in our water supplies.

Psychology. Aryan'ism. Same freakin' thing, new language.

gender bias and programming (4, Informative)

dan_bethe (134253) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596257)

I think each of these two following documents I'm about to quote tread awkwardly on the reflexive difficulty of gender bias. Of course the primary failure is that they target one specific gender as being biased against, the targeting of which inherently creates bias. They try to define what bias is and isn't, and hence how "women are" and how "women aren't". But they're a decently relevant resource.

Every gender bias related paper I've read is about why women are the inherent underdog, not about the nature of gender bias and programming. Gender bias and programming are inherently equal opportunity victimizations and aggressions perpetrated by society, by natural situations, and by self.

The only equal-opportunity social anti-bias resource I've seen yet is VHEMT [vhemt.org] . ;-)

Re:gender bias and programming (2, Interesting)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596336)

In computer science, I got near the top marks for the year. I dated for 3 years a girl that also got the top marks out of the girls for the year.

I found that while she was very book smart, she lacked what I can only term IQ. I don't know what the proper term is. In a degree you can get high marks just from studying hard, and so she did.

My sample is too small though - I would be very interested in seeing any comparisons in reasoning, logic, and speed to pick up a new topic, and so on, between men and women, grouped by degree type.

Spatial Orientation (3, Interesting)

Ian_Bailey (469273) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597493)

While I cannot say I have met a large enough sample size to distinguish between women and men, I have met lots of people who had great difficulties "getting" CS concepts. (And also certain theoretical math and physics) I would often understand the concept after just hearing the overview, while these people would have to be explained all the details to really understand what is happening.

I believe the problem is spatial orientation [www.sfu.ca] . Certain people can create an accurate representation in their minds, and thus can easily "see" the changes happening. In the article I linked to, they give an example of rotating a complex shape in three-dimensional space. Obviously certain concepts in CS (data structures, for instance) involve making a mental picture to understand what's happening, since you can't exactly touch the data.

What I find interesting is how the theory mentioned in this article compares with this theory. According to the article above, only humans with very high or very low levels of testosterone enables humans to think spatially.

In the article I linked to (and many others), there is a theory that men traditionally developped this skill so that they could map out where lunch was, track it and hunt it down, and how they would need to get back home once they had killed it. This is compared to the women, who would stay near home and 'gather' small berries which required more of a sharp eye.

So my question is now, is did these early humans (which obviously must have needed good spatial abiliity) have high or low testosterone? And where are the high-testosterone guys that should be exceeding at spatial orientation now?

MOD PARENT UP!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597585)

An Excellent Post.

Re:Spatial Orientation (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597718)

I've taken tests before that involve questions regarding manipulating mental images of 3D objects to judge abilities.

It's a shame my mind refuses to solve the problem by making a mental image, but instead prefers to translate it to a symbolic problem, which I then find trivial to solve.

Maybe I'm just strange.

Re:Spatial Orientation (1)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598239)

What do you mean by symbolic problem? Aren't symbols visual themselves?

Re:Spatial Orientation (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598810)

I can't remember the exact example, but they're generally something along the lines of "take a vertical dumbbell, red on top, blue on the bottom. Rotate it by 180 degrees along the X axis 3 times. Which colour is on top?"

Some would solve this by visualising the rotation.

I solve it as follows:

R=a rotation of 180 degrees
RR=a rotation of 360 degrees, which is the equivalent of no rotation

therefore:

RRR=R, and the blue is therefore on top.

I'm probably explaining this badly, but suffice to say I get lost easily, but I'm very good at algebra, discrete logic, etc.

Re:Spatial Orientation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598949)

I'm probably explaining this badly, but suffice to say I get lost easily, but I'm very good at algebra, discrete logic, etc.

Well obviously then, you are a lesbian.

Somebody has to say it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10596276)

Well this is so obvious that I can't believe I'm writing it, but

A) researchers and programmers aren't exactly the crown monarchs of exorcise. Testosterone isn't just going to pop up out of nowhere while you're setting at a computer.

B) when doing a test for 'which is greater', there will ALWAYS one side coming out ahead. It doesn't matter whether it has anything to do with the subject. I could do the same thing and test the facial hair of programmers, then conclude that having a beard makes you better at .net.

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596450)

Well, there are a few contrasts that correlate with earlier findings, but for the rest you are completely right. This isn't exactly great research, at least not the way it's presented here.

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598407)

I agree completely.

Additionally, I was struck by the opening line "Psychologists at the University of Bath have found..." implying that they surfed through a ton of data and yanked out only the unusual statistical anomalities, completely disregarding established scientific method!

Anyone can back-fit any popular theory for an irrellevant statistical anomality.

The actual artical does little to disuade that concern for me.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics {sorry, I forget whom I'm quoting.}

Re:Somebody has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10606903)

But... But it's just so much easier to shoot the arrows and then draw the targets around them afterwards!

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598665)

Yeah? And this is relevant to prenatal exposure to testosterone how exactly? RFTA.

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

Zareste (761710) | more than 9 years ago | (#10600971)

Not related at all. That was the whole point. Testosterone doesn't have much of anything to do with anything here.

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 9 years ago | (#10602071)

Oh well, if you say so, it must be unrelated. The experts are clearly wrong then.

We do all wait with baited breath for your explanation of why men have different ratios of finger lengths than women in the first place.

.Net??? (1)

siskbc (598067) | more than 9 years ago | (#10599388)

I could do the same thing and test the facial hair of programmers, then conclude that having a beard makes you better at .net.

No, that's Perl you're thinking of. Goddamn hippies. ;)

Another Open Question (2, Insightful)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596310)

The research leaves open the question of why programmers don't relate to women better.

Re:Another Open Question (2, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596430)

You're assuming:

1) women relate well with each other, and
2) programmers relate well with anyone.

Re:Another Open Question (2, Funny)

Slowping (63788) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597748)

I find that programmers relate TOO well with women. We end up being their friends.

oestrogen/estrogen (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596533)

I was almost going to complain about the spelling, but I decided to check it first.

oestrogen [reference.com] and estrogen are the same thing. It's spelt with an O on this side of the Atlantic (Ireland/UK).

T.

Re:oestrogen/estrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597633)

was almost going to complain about the spelling, but I decided to check it first.

oestrogen and estrogen are the same thing. It's spelt with an O on this side of the Atlantic (Ireland/UK).


I thought you guys spelt it " strogen "

Geees. The article if full of crap! (4, Informative)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596598)

OK. The article is total bollocks here is the New Scientist version [newscientist.com] . NOTE that it is referring to prenatal levels of hormones not the amounts flowing in peoples bodies when they are adults. Which means that a difference in levels of hormones hardwires the brain for programming, research whatever to a large extent.

Also that the social sciences are where the 'normals' end up.

This may explain... (2, Insightful)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596697)

...why there are a disproportionately higher number of transsexuals in the industry than in other industries.

Re:This may explain... (1)

Chembryl (596546) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598118)

haha.

Re:This may explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10605086)

Oh gawd, I'm having flashbacks to Alicia Carla Longstreet on comp.lang.c circa 1996...

Re:This may explain... (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10664480)

Well, I know one and (s)he is a disaster zone professionally. Totally incompetent but good at bullshitting.

afaik, (s)he was pretty incompetent before the sex change so it is not as though Estrogen made a difference either way.

Specialty of Generalists (2, Insightful)

simonfunk (592887) | more than 9 years ago | (#10596940)

Abstract/creative sciences require a balance of concrete and intuitive thinking--programming is an art as much as it is a science. Not to say that highly gendered males don't grok art, but just that people who are somewhat cross-gendered in the womb (which is what the article was about) may well end up with more of a mixture of skills than their strongly gendered counterparts, allowing them to excel at certain tasks (programming, research, etc.) which require a combination of normally disparate skills.

Australian reports on reduced [female] fertility.. (2, Interesting)

ivi (126837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597079)


From the Eugenics department... (even one of
Australia's honored scientists - Mark Oliphant
is said to have held eugenic thoughts in later
life)

Today brought news of another -dark- Australian
tradition:

Giving would-be-TALL girls -estrogen-
to inhibit ("stunt") their growth!!!

(The tall-popey syndrome has been with us - in
many ways - for years over here, apparently...)

Anyway, the study (which only looked at females)
supports the conclusion that fertility is REDUCED
in later life.

"Victims" of early estrogen treatments have
been calling for BANNING of the same.

Now, has anyone done research on MALES...?

Anybody (in Oz or elsewhere) been given estrogen
to bring on earlier puberty, thereby stopping
their growth in stature, who's later had issues
when trying to procreate? (Men, I mean...)

(Aussies continue to strike me as REALLY ODD;
positioning their young women to be SHORT?!?)

Re:Australian reports on reduced [female] fertilit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597689)

I went to a school in Brisbane, Australia where two sisters were given treatment to stop them growing too tall.

This was back in the early 80's. The parents were pressurised into the treatment by the family doctor who said that by stopping the the two girls from growing, they wouldn't be teased at school because of their height.

I was appalled by it at the time, and still am!

Here's a theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597743)

An Aussie friend of mine once explained to me that Aussies hate Yanks because: In WWII while the Ozzie guys were off fighting the Japs in Papua & Southeast Asia, Yank guys came and stole their women.

Ozzy chicks do tend to be pretty fine/ fit/ [whatever word you prefer], so I'm guessing this is probably the scheme: Breed them shorter so there won't be so much foreign competition coming in after Aussie women. There aren't that many of them, after all.

Alternatively... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597089)

Anyone considered the cause could actually be a reverse? Those with low levels of testosterone and high levels of oestrogen (UK spelling, don't panic) don't go out and get girls, ergo they are then stuck at home with their PC.

New CS quiz (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597216)

Draw an outline of your left hand and it will be used to calculate with an error of +/-5% the score you would have gotten had this been more than a pre-school level task.

Hear that ladies? (3, Funny)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597276)

Programmers are more sensitive, balanced, horny, wealthy, and desperate than your average person. Just ignore the fact that some of our voices sound totally gay.

Re:Hear that ladies? (2, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598192)

I have a very feminine voice at times when I do not pay attention to myself. I also have a scratchy bar room voice I made up so that I can sound like a deginerate instead of a fruit.

Re:Hear that ladies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10606916)

Ha :)

I used to speak very clearly as a child. Used a very large vocabulary (I was reading at a level 8 years older than my age), and was called upon to read out speeches etc. all the time.

Then I heard my voice on tape. And I sounded damn fruity.

So I deliberately restricted my vocab in conversation, sounded rougher, changed intonations.

It hasn't really helped, but it's better than nothing. Now I sometimes find I have a cruder accent/intonation than I should do - it sounds very common. It sucks - damned if you do, damned if you don't :)

I guess we both need to just save up and get a voice coach for a year or so :)

Hard charging rock and rollers (2, Interesting)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597360)

I read an article in a guitar magazine discussing how having a longer ring finger on the left hand gave you a distinct advantage in playing guitar, and since this implies higher levels of testosterone in the womb, was used to explain why rock and roll guitarists are just born to be wild.

As with most sweeping generalities however, it is bollocks. My ring finger is significantly longer than my index finger, and yet I play guitar poorly, and conform more towards the usual "geek" stereotype than "rampant wild man of rock".

When I look at my hands.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597420)

My ring finger is almost 1/2 inch longer then my index finger. However, I always breezed though all my Java exams, seeing as how I prefer C++, hell even Python and Lisp, over Java. My business card also says "Lead Developer" but that might by ironic, I'm not sure. The BBC article was also EXTREMELY confusing. But the first link did turn out to clarify things a bit:

Dr. Brosnan said that men having levels of testosterone very much higher than normal for males would also create the right hemisphere dominated brain, which could help in science. The extremes of low testosterone and high testosterone for men would create the scientific brain, and the normal range in the middle would create the 'social science' brain.

HOW much longer?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10597724)

Another vague article.

I couldn't find where it stated just how much longer the index finger has to be in order for it to be considered "much" longer.

And what significance have they attached to the situation where the distance between index and ring on one hand is different to the distance between same fingers on the other hand??

Generalizations (1)

deuterium (96874) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597773)

I'm always surprised by scientists who take a few meager studies and fill in the huge gaps to come up with such generalizations. This study hasn't proven anything other than their interpretations of what constitutes a profession or field. Beyond this, the differences between finger length ratios cited in the full paper is very small, and close to the likely margin of error for their measurement standards. What constitutes the beginning of the finger for their measurements? The webbing? The bone underneath? It's inexact. There is also variation from hand to hand in individuals (i.e. asymmetry). I smell unconscious bias.

Finger length also linked to sexual orientation (1)

RCulpepper (99864) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597877)

Finger length ratios have also been tied to sexual orientation -- homosexual men (like myself) tend to have longer index fingers relative to their ring fingers, whereas lesbians have more typically male finger length ratios. Which actually makes me wonder whether the reason the estrogen-enhanced researchers, etc, might be having fewer children (as mentioned in TFA) because more of them are gay.

As I recall, research has also found that sex-atypical finger length ratios and homosexuality both were more prevalent in chess masters and mathematicians than in the general population. Why, if the pre-natal androgens are operative in both cases, gays seem to be so good at dressing and mathematicians, researchers and chessmasters so bad, I can't begin to guess.

Gakkk! Arnold was right! (1)

cylcyl (144755) | more than 9 years ago | (#10597921)

We're girlie men!

Estrogen and the brain (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598262)

It has been known for some time that despite commonly being thought of as "female" hormones, estrogens are responsible for many of the behavioral qualities of "maleness." Studies done with male knockout mice missing estrogen receptors produce individuals that fail to develop normal male sexual behavior patterns. In the brain, testosterone is converted to estrogens through the action of an enzyme called P450 aromatase, and it is the estrogens that interact with cellular receptors and produce effects. The brains of most female fetuses are not masculinized by estrogens because alpha-fetoprotein binds to estrogens and prevents them from entering the brain.

Male fetuses have alpha-fetoprotein as well, but it does not bind to testosterone (which is of course present to a much larger degree in normal male fetuses than in females), and while the steroid testosterone can pass through the blood-brain barrier, alpha-fetoprotein cannot, so testosterone passes into the brain, where aromatase converts it to estrogens and it then carries out its effects.

Of course, having sexual dimorphism tied to the levels of certain hormones brings you naturally to the results obtained in this particular study, that is to say, there is room for tremendous variation in the phenotypes of persons with the same sexual genotype. Your biological "sex" (in a more overall sense that includes physical and behavioral characteristics of the mature organism)is determined only at a rough level by the count of X and Y chromosomes; they are a starting point for the complex web of genes, proteins, and signalling cascades- as well as conditions in utero, a long neglected aspect of human development finally starting to be recognized- that produce an end result. As a result, while we may be on gross observation "male" or "female," internally we may lie somewhere on a continuum. Individuals with an outwardly male appearances but with female brains are possible, and vice versa. This idea is taken to the the extreme in cases like 5-alpha reductase syndrome, where XY males lack or cannot correctly produce an enzyme that converts testosterone into 5-DHT, which is far more potent in developing secondary sex characteristics- individuals have female genitalia (the default option), but attempts to raise them as female have generally been terrible failures. In other words, our sex isn't digital; it's analog.

I can change relative finger lengths at will. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598472)

I looked at my left hand, and the lengths of my index and ring fingers was equal. On my right hand, the ring finger was almost an inch longer than my index finger.

Thinking, gee, I must have mismatched hands, I put my palms together, and saw that in fact both hands match up perfectly. They are shaped the same, including finger lengths.]

So then, I figured that the difference must be in the way that I was holding the hands up to examine them. I held both up at once next to each other. I put both my index fingers side by side, and looked at the backs of my hands. Both the left and right index fingers were obviously the same length. But it seemed that my right ring finger was much longer than my left one. With some practice, I learned to make the index finger on my left hand appear much shorter than the ring finger on that hand. I also learned to make my right index finger appear to be as long or even slightly longer than my right ring finger if I really stretched.

Stretched may be a misnomer, the muscular movement was to imperceptably tilt all four fingers away from the thumb, and to 'suck in' the ring finger and 'push out' the index finger. It was a bit like learning to wink one eye at a time.

Re: tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598515)

Yeah, well, I can change my penis length by looking a pr0n. When my penis is long, I can wiggle it up and down.

Finnaly... (3, Funny)

egarland (120202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598642)

...proof that stupid people have a reproductive advantage over smart people.

That explains a lot of things. :)

AHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598708)

I knew it! Testosterone is the... wait... ...ESTROGEN... aw, crap...

Because Men are Superior! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10598711)

The research leaves open the question of why women (who typically have more estrogen than men) aren't more prevalent in the science and technology fields."

because men are smarter regardless of hormon levels or finger length!

Women are far more intelligent than men (1)

jgardn (539054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10598933)

I believe that women are for more intelligent than men.

First, I'll lead you with this idea: Einstein was really not that smart. In fact, it was his lack of intelligence but careful attention to details that made him a phenomenal physicist. Too often, a smart person will overlook interesting results because they don't seem correct. (How long before someone realized that the other answer to the square root is the positron?) Einstein was simple enough to examine the results closely, despite their odd initial appearance. He was simple enough to write it down in a clear manner. He was simple enough to believe in pure logic.

Now on to the questions: Are women smart? Yes. Very much so. Human relations are the one area that women truly shine. They are able to identify emotion and character with a simple glance. I still have problems identifying the emotional state of someone, even under careful examination. (Humm, you are grimacing, your eyes are squinting, and your fists are clenched... so you must be happy to see me?)

Human relations are also one area that is so complicated that scientists don't even know where to begin. At least we understand that no human language can be described with a formal language.

The intelligence of women really shows in the natural instincts of a woman to mother a child. I tend to drive the children to strict obedience because it simplifies life tremendously if people do what they say. My wife is perfectly happy to live in this limbo of uncertainty, where every word and every action is part of a dialog with the child.

Let's compare something I am really good at with her. I think I am pretty smart with programming and such, but my wife is quite frankly *bored* with the topic, as it is not interesting enough compared to the art of dealing with children and friends and neighbors. Yes, that is true. One of the reasons why I like programming so much is because it is one of the simplest things in this world that is actually useful.

Another example. In financial matters, we tend to be equally weak. That is because, in my mind, it is too simple for a woman to understand, and just a bit more complicated than men can understand. I see how she handles our account - she has a running total of all of our accounts in her head, and can predict what we will have in our accounts 6 months out, pretty much for each week. I can't do that. I have to sit down and write it all out and then look at the numbers and then draw up a budget to figure it all out. It takes me hours to come to the conclusions that she has made 6 months ago. Unfortunately, she isn't careful with her math and sometimes makes poor decisions - like paying off the lower interest debt first - but that is only because she trusts her natural intelligence and allows her mind to carry her to conclusions without understanding the "why".

Re:Women are far more intelligent than men (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10600748)

Boy are you whipped.

Re:Women are far more intelligent than men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10601862)

Folks, here we have an unwitting victim of misandry. Don't let this happen to your sons.

alternatively titled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10602841)

"Women are far more intelligent than men" or, alternatively titled: "MY WIFE is far more intelligent than ME, now watch me to generalize this observation to over 3 billion men and 3 billion women".

Re:Women are far more intelligent than men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10604140)

I don't see how you can conclude that women are smarter than men due to the fact that your wife gets bored with programming and simply estimates what your account useage will be.

Also, just be cause you can't tell that when someone is happy/mad doesn't mean every man has the same problem.

You can't conclude that the finacial matters are too simple for her just because she wont sit down and do it properly, and i'm not sure where you got the idea about how she is bored with programming and chooses to just interact with people means she is more intelligent (aside from not wanting to torture herself).

I'm not saying men are smarter than women, just that your conclusions can't follow from the examples you gave.

Re:Women are far more intelligent than men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10606925)

Oh I love this.

How about you swap man for woman, and see if you get away with a post like that.

Here's a hint - a politically correct troll is STILL a troll.

Only Java? (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10599156)

NT

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10600742)

Male programmer-researchers have higher levels of estrogen, and females in social sciences have higher levels of testosterone? Well, that explains a LOT of what happens between me and my wife...

Technical ability social ability (1)

Fortran IV (737299) | more than 9 years ago | (#10601008)

The question also arises as to why more women, who have this lower level of testosterone, are not in science, which is male-dominated, with only one in 40 science professors being a woman.

I am reminded of the Computer Science curriculum where I went to school long ago. There was one unofficial but absolute requirement: Every programming student had to take Social Dance, on the theory that programmers (nearly all male, in those days) were naturally antisocial.

I'm sure that long-term male discrimination has been a factor, but I also suspect (from my own experience) that there are relatively few women in hard science and technology because, while they and their male counterparts may be equally talented in analytical tasks, the women tend to be more socially capable. Research says male scientists tend to have fewer children; is this partly because they tend to have fewer successful marriages?

In simple terms, perhaps the women are more likely to have a real life.

Alternative Explanation (1)

Auxon (97887) | more than 9 years ago | (#10603237)

I suspect that estrogen levels have nothing to do with whether someone is better at these tasks or not. It's just that men with higher estrogen and lower testosterone tend to a) have less sexual desire and therefore be less concerned with sex than men with lower estrogen and higher testoterone levels, b) tend to be less attractive and geeky than other men and so have less success finding [a] mate[s], let alone reproducing, particularly during the formative years (such as high school and college/uni). These two factors give these "lucky" men the time to focus more on "geeky" activities.

I think the research is probably bogus because of these reasons, thus explaining why estrogen in women doesn't improve the % of women that have talent in these areas.

Now where's that grain of salt?

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#10605333)

Wow, so can I shove this in the face of all those people making fun of me asking "Don't you have any balls?!" when I order all those girly drinks?

I suspect not, but still...

pull my finger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10611445)

no seriously
pull my finger
i need a job
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