It is always a mixture of surprise/disappoint that books like "Delusions of Gender" are not only still relevant, but extremely pertinent. Mostly because it feels like we've been having these same conversations over and over again, and despite the continuous evidence to the contrary, ignorance continues to win out.
Fine is able to do what few authors can. She presents current psychological research in a user-friendly manner without sacrificing the integrity of the research, all while weaving in insightful anecdotes, clever witticisms, and a healthy dose of skepticism and sarcasm.
As Delusions unfolds, slowly but surely the "science" behind gender differences is challenged and oftentimes debunked. Usually books like this have a niche audience; most people who read them are already going to be open to and active already in challenging neurosexism and the science behind gender differences. And even though I am disappointed in hearing stories regarding the biases and misinformation that many people attribute to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of themselves and others, it is hardly breaking news. Statements like, "Boys are just hardwired..." and "Women just naturally..." are so common that I have learned to bite my tongue instead of diving headfirst into yet another anecdote about conversation styles, how my inability to spatially organize objects in my car is simply from lack of practice, or that I was able to change the headlight in my car after only 10 minutes of looking at the manual.
What was disappointing, however, is reading examples of how often so-called "experts" and "professionals" misrepresent research studies, sometimes to the point of blatant dishonesty. And how research journals and research funding in general continues to do a disservice in terms of fair and accurate representation. It is important to remember that sexism does not exist solely in what is published, but also what is not published. When research articles that expose gender similarities are ignored, unfunded, and unpublished, professional organizations and publications are refraining from providing individuals with a balanced view. And when professionals are permitted to publish work that is not well researched, or allowed to twist and contort studies to support their own agenda, what are we to expect except that the same old gender stereotypes will persist?
"Supppose, for example, you're a neuroscientist interested in what parts of the brain are involved in mind reading. You get fifteen participants into a scanner and ask them to guess the emotion of people in photographs. Since you have both males and females in your group, you run a quick check to ensure that the two groups' brains respond in the same way. They do. What do you do next? Most likely, you publish your results without mentioning gender at all in your report (except to note the number of male and female participants). What you don't do is publish your findings with the title "No Sex Differences in Neural Circuitry Involved in Understanding Others' Minds." This is perfectly reasonable. After all, you weren't looking for gender difference and there were only small numbers of each sex in your study. But remember that even if males and females, overall, respond the same way on a task, five percent of studies investigating this question will throw up a "significant" difference between the sexes by chance. As Hines has explained, sex is "easily assessed, routinely evaluated, and not always reported. Because it is more interesting to find a difference than to find no difference, the 19 failures to observe a difference between men and women go unreported, whereas the 1 in 20 finding of a difference is likely to be published." This contributes to the so-called file-drawer phenomenon, whereby studies that do find sex differences get published, but those that don't languish unpublished and unseen in a researcher's file drawer.
EMPOWERTAINMENT aims to take a critical look at media in regards to how gender and women/girls are portrayed. From popular articles, videos, and websites, to original submissions, we want to not only examine the media and its relation to gender, but help shift it.