“Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong” was second on my reading list. It sheds light on gender bias in anthropology, biology and psychology. I was drawn to the book as it combines science and gender – two topics that I love. The author, Angela Saini, delivers an abundance of interesting findings and defies scientific gender myths of the past. In other words, you learn tremendously and will most likely find yourself thinking about the book throughout the day. Though scientific, it is nonetheless an easy read and I definitely recommend it.
Why reading “How Science Got Women Wrong” is important
Reflecting on questions regarding gender is important to me because, as most women have, I have been subjected to sexism. Often, the prejudice based on my sex is justified by ideas that stem from so-called science. An example could be: “Men drive better than women because a larger portion of their brains are devoted to white matter – which means that they are better at spatial visualisation”. Or, as written in a 1978 Playboy magazine: “Do men need to cheat on their wives? A new Science says yes”.
Most of the time, in these situations, it’s hard for me to argue because, for all I know, it might be true. However, it seems to me that often, in the social settings that I experience, gender science is used only in one direction: to justify current gender roles – with women being more domestic and less sexual than men. This feels particularly strange since I don’t see evidence of it in real life. I therefore find it crucial to read about these scientific findings so that I can form my own personal opinion about them. It could also help me understand why I so often feel that there is a bewildering gap between the conclusions of gender science and what it really is to be woman (perhaps men feel an equivalent bewilderment when misrepresented by science). This allows me to at least have a discussion on the topic whenever it comes up instead of having to blindly accept what people tell me.
Yes, reading one book isn’t enough. Who knows, maybe the author isn’t telling the whole story. Maybe her findings are biased. But, the more I read, the more I learn. Eventually, my opinions will be my own and I won’t always have to accept whatever people tell me about my gender.
What I learned
It probably sounds silly but, “why the book is important to read” is best answered by reading it. I learned about male and female brains, their immune systems and their sexuality. How science has historically suppressed or forgotten about women. And, how a lot of studies are influenced by confirmation bias.
* I am not sure wether the term “gender” or “sex” is most inclusive of transgender people. I know that “gender” refers to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Sorry if I used the wrong term.