Tag Archives: Gender and Sexual Orientation

Caster Semenya’s Gender: What would the science be?

Well, we don’t know because the necessary detailed information has not been released. I do not personally know the Caster Semenya story, medically or biologically speaking, but there has been a lot of discussion and apparently wild speculation on this, and I may have a thing or two to help clarify.

Continue reading Caster Semenya’s Gender: What would the science be?

Math gender gap is not genetic

Or to put it more accurately, yet another study seems to show that girls learn from their teachers, parents, and peers that they are not supposed to be good at math. Sterotypes can be fulfilled. Pleas stop doing that, everyone.

Here is some press on this story.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers continue to find evidence that shows there is no innate difference in the math ability of males and females.

“There is a persistent stereotype that girls and women are just not as good at math as boys and men,” said UW-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde. “And the data we have indicates that’s just not true. I really think it’s important to get that word out and to chip away at that myth.”

Hyde and Janet Mertz, UW-Madison professor of oncology, co-authored an analysis of data compiled on math performance at all levels in the United States and abroad. The report, titled “Gender, Culture and Mathematics Performance,” was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I hope to eventually read the actual study. I’ll get back to you on that.

Ultimate Causes, Proximate Mechanisms

Why does a soldier throw himself on a hand grenade to save the lives of a half-dozen unrelated fellow soldiers? Why does someone run into a burning building they happen to be passing to save a child they don’t know? From a Darwinian perspective these seem to be enigmatic behaviors that would “select against” such individuals (or more properly, select against the heritable component of this behavior).

There are several possible explanations for this….
Continue reading Ultimate Causes, Proximate Mechanisms

More emotional intelligence = more orgasms

ResearchBlogging.orgAccording to a study just coming out in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, “variations in emotional intelligence–the ability to identify and manage emotions of one’s self and others–are associated with orgasmic frequency during intercourse and masturbation.”

Continue reading More emotional intelligence = more orgasms

Grasping the function of the human penis

Gallup has taken on the task of explaining, in ultimate terms, the evolutionarily designed features of the human penis. He works this as an engineering problem from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, which is always a little bit dangerious, but gallup isn’t quite the arm waiver that a lot of other EP’s are, so he may be doing it right.

Gallup’s work is written up an an all-too-sophomoric Scientific American article by Jesse Bering which just barely falls short of explaining this important biological phenomenon in terms of a pair of headlights, a flashlight, and a little red waagon.

Here’s the money quote:

Magnetic imaging studies of heterosexual couples having sex reveal that, during coitus, the typical penis completely expands and occupies the vaginal tract, and with full penetration can even reach the woman’s cervix and lift her uterus. This combined with the fact that human ejaculate is expelled with great force and considerable distance (up to two feet if not contained), suggests that men are designed to release sperm into the uppermost portion of the vagina possible. Thus… “A longer penis would not only have been an advantage for leaving semen in a less accessible part of the vagina, but by filling and expanding the vagina it also would aid and abet the displacement of semen left by other males as a means of maximizing the likelihood of paternity.”

The other component of the work is the intriguing possibility that penises have evolved to carry semen previously left in one female’s vagina from another male to be deposited hours later in the vagina of a second female. Which I suppose could be called facilitated cuckoldry.

I’ve not read the original paper yet. I’m not quite up to it. But if I do, I’ll let you know if it is truly a seminal work, or if Gallup is just jerking us around.

The writeup is here.

Finches Determine Sex of Offspring

As you know if you read my blog, Trivers Willard is an important theoretical construct which has been tested numerous times. TW works in some species, not in others, and overall, that should be predictable (accroding to TW).

It turns out that finches control the sex of their offspring, and do so in a way that TW would predict, apparently. There is a paper in Science that I’ll probably eventually get to writing up for you, and in the mean time, here’s a quick news report from Scientific American.

See if you can figure out how Trivers Willard is working here, and why the important theoretical aspect of this research is glossed in this news report.

The curious case of penile vaginal intercourse and depression in women

I’m starting to worry that the last few Friday Weird Science write-ups by Scicurious (who seems, these days, to be the primary blogger at Neurotopia) have been of papers that I happen to have read. Just so you know: Thousands of papers are published per week across the diverse sciences, and although Scicurious tends to deal with life science and I tend to read life science, the chances of this particular harmonic convergence across bloggers regarding papers published over the last decade is statistically almost zero. More likely, Scicurious and I just have similar taste … or lack thereof.

The latest paper written up by Sci is on the relationship between certain kinds of sexual intercourse and reduction of depression in women, suggested by a study by Gordon Gallup and others.

Continue reading The curious case of penile vaginal intercourse and depression in women

I’m a little worried

The following is a proof developed by a number of economists at Harvard. It is a proof of the inability of women to understand technologically complex problems, math, engineering, that sort of thing. it is claimed that it almost always works.

Now, I’m not saying that Larry Summers was party to this proof, or even in the room at the time. I’m. Not. Saying. That.
Continue reading I’m a little worried

If Marriage is a Sacred Bond between Man and Woman ….


This finger needs a ring! (soure)
… then it’s OK if the ‘woman’ is a guy in drag, right?

The couple walked into a Norfolk courthouse on a spring day, exchanged a few words, and within 10 minutes, were seemingly husband and wife.It was an unremarkable ceremony – except that several weeks later, officials realized the shapely bride might not have been a woman.Now authorities in Virginia, where same-sex marriages are illegal, are weighing whether to file misdemeanor charges against the couple, Antonio E. Blount, 31, and Justin L. McCain, 18. An announcement is expected this week.

Read the whole story here.The people who are insisting that marriage is only valid if it is people of different sexes are asking for it. It might, in many states, be easier to recognize gender orientations beyond hetero male and female as additional ‘sexes’ (in courts) than to get legislatures to pass non-discriminatory bills.Just as interesting would be the reaction in some legislatures…. Continue reading If Marriage is a Sacred Bond between Man and Woman ….

Female Coders Do It With Consideration

Check it out:

Emma McGrattan, the senior vice-president of engineering for computer-database company Ingres-and one of Silicon Valley’s highest-ranking female programmers-insists that men and women write code differently. Women are more touchy-feely and considerate of those who will use the code later, she says. They’ll intersperse their code-those strings of instructions that result in nifty applications and programs-with helpful comments and directions, explaining why they wrote the lines the way they did and exactly how they did it.The code becomes a type of “roadmap” for others who might want to alter it or add to it later, says McGrattan, a native of Ireland who has been with Ingres since 1992.Men, on the other hand, have no such pretenses.

Continue reading Female Coders Do It With Consideration

The Phalarope: Not just another polyandrous bird…


MIT researchers found that phalaropes depend on a surface interaction known as contact angle hysteresis to propel drops of water containing prey upward to their throats. Photo by Robert Lewis
The Phalarope starts out as an interesting bird because of its “reversed” sex-role mating behavior. For at least some species of Phalarope, females dominate males, forcing them to build nests and to care for the eggs that the females place there after mating. If a female suspects that a male is caring for eggs of another female, she may destroy the eggs and force the male to copulate with her a few times, after which she places the newly fertilized eggs in his nest. This polyandrous behavior is probably facilitated by the fact that the lady phalaropes, denizens of extreme climates with short breeding seasons, are capable of rapid egg production … so their egg production converges, kinda, on sperm production … thus allowing them to exploit multiple males for their parenting behavior.Well, it turns out that these birds are interesting in another way: They defy gravity! … sort of … read on:

As Charles Darwin showed nearly 150 years ago, bird beaks are exquisitely adapted to the birds’ feeding strategy. A team of MIT mathematicians and engineers has now explained exactly how some shorebirds use their long, thin beaks to defy gravity and transport food into their mouths.The phalarope, commonly found in western North America, takes advantage of surface interactions between its beak and water droplets to propel bits of food from the tip of its long beak to its mouth, the research team reports in the May 16 issue of Science.These surface interactions depend on the chemical properties of the liquid involved, so phalaropes and about 20 other birds species that use this mechanism are extremely sensitive to anything that contaminates the water surface, especially detergents or oil.

Continue reading The Phalarope: Not just another polyandrous bird…

Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos

ResearchBlogging.orgSignificant cultural and physical differences … the stuff of race and ethnicity … are prominent when people move across continents or between them. Eventually, the ponderous events of history, which involve occasional foldings in the continuum of human variation, causing apparent patchiness, are offset by the frequent events of human activities, resulting in genetic and cultural admixtures. What colonialism, invasion, and migration do is undone.A new study out in PLoS Genetics examines this phenomenon for Latin America, with a study of genetic admixture. Continue reading Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos