Robin Hanson (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 14:20:44 -0800 (PST)

Lyle Burkhead writes:
>One time somebody said something about women being equal to men,
>and Jennifer said "That doesn't mean everybody has to be alike."
>She was doing what she wanted to do with her life. She didn't want
>to be Juno. She wanted to be Venus. She shouldn't be forced to be the
>New Communist Woman, or the New Capitalist Woman, or whatever.

I suspect most of the gender variation in outomes is best explained by
saying that women tend to want different things from men, rather than
that women have different abilities, or that institutions/culture
discriminate against them. This is my experience, my wife's
experience, and the basis thesis of the controversial classic "Why Men

Kathryn Aegis writes:
>I contend that humans possess the ability NOW to abandon
>culturally-constructed gender roles, and they could do so regardless
>of technological advancement. Clearly entire segments of the
>population would like to do away with at least some of the divisions.
>The barriers to this human advancement are not technological in
>nature but, rather, found within imbedded societal power structures.

Culture and social power structures do influence individual choices,
but are themselves things we need to explain. A simple natural (but
perhaps wrong) explanation of culturally-constructed genders is that
they are the natural aggregate result of lots of individual probably
genetically-determined differences in what individual women want. If
we could have always changed gender roles, and haven't, maybe most of
us don't want to.
>and of course some people are primarily attracted to mathemeticians. I
>think it's important to engineer your values, rather than to just accept
>what your environment does to your value system without any editing.

I don't think you can sensibly talk about engineering your values.
You can choose your strategies, heuristics, ways of framing
situations, and you can remind yourself of things you value that
aren't naturally highlighted in situations. But you want what you
want. If you want to want something else, then how can it be that you
wanted it in the first place?

Robin D. Hanson