Do you believe that only boys do well in science? Does it seem to you that girls have better vocabularies than boys? In your opinion, are boys better at building things? If your answer to each of those questions is "Yes," you are right, according to an article in Current Science. There are exceptions, but here are the facts.
On the average, males score higher on tests that measure mathematical reasoning, mechanical ability, and problem-solving skills. Females show superior ability in tests measuring vocabulary, spelling, and memory. But these differences will probably not always exist. In the future, a person’s abilities may not be determined by sex. As one scientist says, "Nothing is impossible for a person to be or do."
In several recent studies, young babies have been observed and tested to discover how different abilities are developed. A scientific team headed by Jerome Kagan, a psychologist at Harvard University, is studying the thinking ability of children 11 1/2 months old. The test is a simple one. The baby, while seated on its mother’s lap, watches a "show" on a small theater stage.
In act 1 of the show, an orange-colored block is lifted from a blue box and moved slowly across the stage. Then it is returned to the box. This is repeated six times. Act 2 is similar, except that the orange block is smaller. Baby boys do not seem to notice the difference in the size of the block, but girls immediately become excited and begin to make noises that sound like language. They seem to be trying to talk.
It is known that bones, muscles, and nerves develop faster in baby girls. Usually, too, baby girls talk at an earlier age than boys do. Scientists think there is a physical reason for this. They believe that nerves in the left side of the brain develop faster in girls than in boys. And it is this side of the brain that strongly influences an individual’s ability to use words, to spell, and to remember things.
By the time they start to school, therefore, little girls have an advantage that boys do not have. Girls are physically more ready to remember facts, to spell, and to read. These, of course, are skills that are important in elementary school.
But what have the boys been doing in the years before starting school? They have been developing something called aggression. An aggressive person has courage and energy. He feels strong and independent. He is often the first one to start a fight.
What produces aggression in little boys? It has long been assumed that aggression is caused by male hormones. Scientists today believe that male hormones are only part of the explanation, however. They say aggressiveness in boys is also caused by mothers.
A team of psychologists discovered this by placing mothers and their one-year-old babies in a room filled with toys. The room had a wall through which the scientists could observe what happened without being seen. They took notes on everything the mothers and babies did. Here is a sample of those notes, taken during the observation of a baby boy and his mother:"Baby leans against mother. Looks up at her. She speaks to him. She turns him around. He walks away, picks up toy cat. Goes to mother, drops cat, and leans against her. Looks up at her. She turns him around."
Consequently, it is easy to understand why little girls often perform school tasks better than boys, especially if the task requires sitting still, obeying commands, and accepting the teacher’s ideas. A girl may pass easily through the first few grades. While boys of her age bring home low marks, the girl may easily get good grades. Girls seem to have "better brains" in school. Why, then, do so few girls become great scientists? Why is the most important thinking in adult society done by men?
From such observations and from conversations with mothers, the scientists learned something about the treatment of baby boys and baby girls. While the mother keeps her daughter close to her, she trains her son to move away from her, to develop independence.
According to scientists, the answer is aggression. Because boys are aggressive, they refuse to accept other people’s solutions; they insist upon solving problems for themselves. Thus, while little girls are getting high marks in school for remembering what the teacher has told them, little boys are learning to think in more independent ways.
In the adult world, the aggressive person is usually the one who gets the big salary, the great responsibility, the powerful job. And since males are trained at an early age to be aggressive, males are more often chosen for key positions.
Many people believe this situation is wrong. They think women could be successful in science and industry if they were trained to be independent and problem-solving, as boys are.
2011-12-23 15:12 编辑：wjy2005tom