Oops.....Math in the Genes?

Joy Williams (hummer@cruzio.com)
Sun, 26 Jan 1997 15:02:17 -0800

I accidently sent this before I was done with it....Sorry, this doesn't
happen very often....

I said:
"One could say that women are more genetically inclined towards learning
languages? There are a lot of multi-lingualed women in language programs,
and many top level, (for instance the UN) translators, are women. Or
perhaps people with a musical ear are more inclined to hearing the tonality
differences and can learn other language pronunciations".... perhaps being
able to quickly learn software is in the genes.... (which of course is
ridiculous) see how strange this gets? I doubt there is a genome out
there specifically geared towards "mathematics" or that an aptitude is
specifically charted in your genes. I think it would be more appropriate
to look at the cultural background and opportunities to learn a particular
discipline. Of course if you have a genetic abnormality and your cerebral
cortex doesn't completely develop, then you may not be able to learn
certain things.

Physical talents, like the voice, manual dexterity, etc, I could see being
on the genetic strands. General intelligence, like "IQ" etc, I can see as
being on the genetic strands as well, but those are only good as long as
you exercise them.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is a phenomena I've witnessed, and read
about: Women seem more suited to intuitive and "circular" reasoning, men
seem more prone to linear directed thought ie, a ->b->c. Now math seems to
me much more linear.....so perhaps this is a partial explanation as to why
there are not as many women in fields that kinda "limit" themselves to this
kind of thought. I was surprised when I helped to organize the fuzzy logic
conference as to how many women I saw attend, but I guess it makes a bit
more sense in that in this field there are shades of gray....rather than

I think it interesting however that this thread has included "science" as
one of the fields that women don't gravitate towards. I don't think that
is valid. I know plenty of women in scientific fields, from anthropology
to biology, to physics. And perhaps that is because I live in a more
culturally liberated area...Santa Cruz and the Bay Area are much more open
to that then other parts of the country. So I guess that proves this
particular idea (that aptitudes in certain learning areas are predetermined
by genetics) is wrong.

Genius, itself, has nothing to do with sex.

Now I have a question that I suspect I know the answer to, but it's an
observation and I would like to throw it out there. Most women I know are
very good at multi-tasking....ie, doing more than one thing at a time.
I've read that there is an evolutionary "reason" for this, women developed
it because they were the primary caregivers....I think I read something
like this: "A woman had to carry a baby on her hip, suckle it, stir the
soup pot, and kick the mastadon out of the cave all at the same time."
>From my own experience, I can be talking on the phone for instance and
typing my email, paying attention to other things going on around me, etc.
Or I can be knitting, watching TV, and keeping an ear out for a child I
might be watching. (In fact I normally don't like to watch TV unless I am
engaged in another activity at the same time....). Most mothers I know are
able to perform many tasks at the same and always have an ear out for the
kids. I've not seen that many men can focus well on more than one activity
at a time, and find that curious. One might say that this is genetically
inclined, because the carpus collascum, (spell?) is more developed (% in
size) in womens brains so the connectivity between the right and left
hemispheres is better.... I recall reading that somewhere though I'm not
really sure where. I'll hunt for it on the web... Perhaps this is why
women seem more inclined to intuitive hunches.... perhaps, perhaps,
perhaps. Does anyone out there with experience in the study of the brain
have any thoughts on this?