The Other I

November 8, 2010

Tying your shoe laces: is it genetic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotheri @ 9:06 pm

Researchers recently have begun to question whether the alleged genetic differences between male and female brains is much less than we have thought, or if indeed if it exists at all.

I’ve long thought there are genetically-based differences in male and female intelligence.  But as someone who spent a substantial portion of my professional life arguing that the evidence did not support alleged racial differences in IQ, I am open to the suggestion that they have been greatly exaggerated.  I’m also a female who has what would be traditionally called a “male brain,” and I think it is quite possible that most differences between the sexes is due to environmental factors.

But I do remember when the twins were about two years old and learning to tie their shoe laces.  I had a bet with my older brother Tom that I could teach Mary to tie her shoe laces faster than he could teach her twin to do the same thing.  

At the end of a week, I told Tom that Mary had learned.  Tom disagreed, and asked Mary to tie her shoes which she apparently could not do.  The next day her twin Bob won the race, and the day after that, Mary had also learned the trick.

Years later I learned from Mary that she indeed had learned how to tie her laces first, but she thought Bob should win so she pretended she didn’t know how.

She was two years old.  I did come from a family where it was assumed that men were more intelligent than women.  But how did Mary learn that in less than 24 months after arriving in this world?  I don’t recall that Tom or I gave the contest a sexual dimension.

But the idea of sex roles certainly must have been pretty deeply ingrained if it extended even to tying shoe laces.

Unless, of course, it’s genetic.

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