Monday, January 24, 2005

The Goddess with the Long Ring Fingers

That's me, and thanks to two keen-eyed people in my comments I now know that this makes me almost as good at parking cars and map-reading as men!

January has been a dreadful month for women in the field of studying gender difference. First we were told that men will not marry uppity women because uppity women are more likely to be unfaithful. This has something to do with prehistoric men's fertility fears. Then we were subjected to a week-long shouting match about why women are not equally represented in the hard sciences, with ideas ranging from girls liking dolls better than trucks to autistic children possessing the extreme male brain to goddess rants on everything inbetween ending with Charles Murray in the New York Times pontificating on yet one more topic he knows nothing about. And soon there will be another article about why female and male brains would look completely different if they were viewed as light lanterns when in use.

It is a flood, my friends, and it is going to drown us all. The nice thing about this newest study is naturally that it reinforces all the common stereotypes very nicely and that you can tell everything you need to know just by looking at a woman's fingers! If you are a woman and have forefingers and ring fingers of approximately the same length, well, then you are doomed to never learn parallel parking or mapreading:

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.

Low testosterone levels are also linked to shorter wedding ring fingers, they say.

The research looked at the spatial, numerical and verbal skills of 40 student volunteers.

Spatial skill is the ability to assess and orientate shapes and spaces. Map reading and parking are spatial skills which men often say women lack. Women tend to disagree.

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.

With the exception of the finger stuff, there is nothing new about this research.
It's the same old thing about the mental rotation of three-dimensional figures that all the tests always talk about. Do you spot something very interesting about the study methods as described in the above quote?

Nowhere did they actually check how well the women and the men in the study could read maps or park cars.
I know that I promised another post on Steven Pinker, but I'm overdozed on this shit.