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Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and…
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Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and the New Research That's…

by Angela Saini

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Women aren't good at math or science so that's why there are so few female mathematicians, scientists and Nobel Prize winners. Well, that's according to one scenario. Another is that few women have been educated in STEM subjects and fewer still are allowed to compete for prestigious positions that men tend to reserve for themselves. When women do excel their work is often ignored or a man takes the credit, thus reinforcing the perception that women are less competent.

Scientists, who were usually male, tested men and women in various ways and found that women could not perform equally in many areas. It's also possible that the researchers didn't want to relinquish a pet theory. Even scientists can be subject to confirmation bias. Today more women are involved in anthropology, primatology, sociology, psychology and other specialties. Their work is producing new insights which contradict positions previously thought to be correct.

Saini examines gender differences, or lack thereof, as found by various researchers. Boys are biologically at greater risk of dying from the moment they are born. Girls have better survival rates despite societies' frequent neglect. Another intriguing study revealed that while women's brains are smaller they have a 15 to 20 percent higher blood flow rate. Regardless of these findings, she states"[t]he vast majority of experiments and studies show no sex difference".

Opposing viewpoints are not ignored. Saini quotes researchers who continue to assert, often in the face of strong evidence, that major differences exist between the genders. She includes criticism or differing interpretations from others in the field and discusses how these views affect further study and women's lives in general.

This was written for the lay(wo)man. The text does not delve deeply into any particular area but provides a good overview of current understanding. Perhaps the best part of the book is the inclusion of many researchers who may be unfamiliar to the reader. There are no citations but References and an index are included. A few typos (small word insertions or deletions) did get past the editor. ( )
  Taphophile13 | Jun 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book gets a high rating from me solely on how much I was interacting with the text. My copy is covered in pencilled-in notes in a way I haven't done since college. My biggest quibble is that I was expecting a work of science and got a work of journalism. Which is fine, if not what I was expecting, but the objective presentation of both sides necessary for journalism* occasionally bothered me, although you can sort of tell what Saini really thinks.

*Yes, for science too, but in a different manner. Science doesn't expect me to treat two opposing views as though they're equally valid.
  Watry | Jun 21, 2017 |
~review copy

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. This short book has got me revisiting past thoughts, as well as introduced to me to what's new in the literature.

Amazingly, Angela Saini has managed to touch upon science, history, and society and she's covered all these facets quite efficiently. I personally loved the new studies she introduced me too. These would be biological studies of human women as well as other primates. The chapter on female mutilation was my least favorite. Not because it wasn't interesting, but because it angers me so much. ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Jun 6, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A brief but interesting overview of some of the ways in which science—though presented as impartial—has in fact done much to reinforce societal and cultural norms about binary sex and gender. Angela Saini points out that biological differences between male and female bodies are still only imperfectly understood, and are not as clear-cut as are commonly thought. When it comes to male and female brains, it's not clear that there are inherent differences at all.

Inferior is, as I said, a brief overview, and so Saini remains focused on biological sex as opposed to gender—which is understandable, but means that her exploration is perhaps not as incisive as it could be. There is some mention of intersex people, but Saini does seem to presume heterosexuality as the historical default (I think the only mention of same-sex acts is when discussing great apes). Still, this is an interesting synthesis of an important topic, and well worth the read. ( )
  siriaeve | Jun 3, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a copy of Angela Saini's "Inferior: How science got women wrong and the new research that's rewriting the story" through LT's Early Reviewers program. I'm not really sure why I put in for this one-- it's not my typical reading fare, which may be why I didn't particularly enjoy it.

There are some good nuggets of information stuffed into this book but I just couldn't get away from the fact it felt like reading a textbook.

If you enjoy reading scientific papers and going over the details of them, then you will really like this book. This one just wasn't for me. ( )
  amerynth | May 29, 2017 |
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For my boys,

Mukul and Aneurin
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For centuries, scientists have influence decision makers on important issues including abortion rights, granting women the vote, and how schools educate us. They have shaped how we think about our minds and bodies and our relationships with each other. And of course, we trust scientists to give us the objective facts. We believe that what science offers us is a story free from prejudice. It is the story of us, starting from the very dawn of evolution.
Chapter 1

Woman's Inferiority to Man


To prove women's inferiority, antifeminists began to draw not only, as before, on religion, philosophy and theology, but also on science: biology, experimental psychology and so forth.

—Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949
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