Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Those inferior women, again

posted by Jazz at 1/24/2005 01:59:00 PM


After several days, the constant controversy over recent remarks by a Harvard University professor about the possibility of women having naturally poorer math skills then men seems to be calming down. We can't let that happen, now can we? Just in time, the BBC reports that a study conducted in Germany indicates that not only are women worse at math, they suck at driving too. (For purely biological reasons, of course.)
Map reading and parking may prove difficult for some women because they were exposed to too little testosterone in the womb, researchers suggest.

The study, in the journal Intelligence, fuels the age-old male myth that women are deficient in these skills.

Scientists from the University of Giessen, Germany, found a lack of the hormone affects spatial ability.

In a side effect which I'm sure none of us saw coming, testosterone, in addition to granting god-like powers of spatial recognition and map reading ability, makes your ring finger grow longer in comparison to your index finger.
Low testosterone levels are also linked to shorter wedding ring fingers, they say.

The researchers also looked at the length of the students' wedding and index fingers.

In women, the two fingers are usually almost equal in length, as measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men, the ring finger tends to be much longer than the index.

For one of the spatial tests, volunteers had to tell which of five drawings could not be rotated so it looked like the other four.

The other test involved the ability to think in 3D by mentally "unfolding" a complex shape.

Overall, men achieved higher scores in the tests than women.

But women with the male pattern of finger length did better than those whose wedding finger was shorter.

They also scored better on the numerical tests.

So higher testosterone equates to longer ring fingers which equates to better spatial recognition and parking ability. I just went and did a quick (and highly unscientific) sampling of three female colleagues and four male colleagues. All of the females had ring fingers which were the same length or shorter than their index fingers. I noticed that the ring fingers of all the men I spoke to about this were significantly longer than the ring finger.

Upon explaining why I was asking about these statistics, two of the women surveyed demonstrated other activities they could perform with their fingers.

Our conclusion?

First, if this theory is true, it was pretty stupid to give men the better ability to read maps, as it's generally pretty hard to get us to pick one up, say nothing of ask for directions.

Second. I have taken a number of tests that involve those puzzles where you have to determine whether or not a figure can be rotated to match a different view, or if a container can be opened up flat to produce one of a predicted set of cutout patterns. While it is nice to think that I may have scored higher than a lot of the girls, I've yet to find a use for this skill in any job I've held.

Third. If any of you male readers try to bring up this study while your girlfriend is trying to park the car, you may find yourself exercising yet another use for your longer fingers for some time to come.