Men, women and maps

If you give a woman abstract directions involving distances and points of the compass she does very badly, but with directions based on landmarks she’ll do better than a man: Tell Men Directions, Give Women Landmarks: Study.

No surprise there. There’s also no surprise that the (female) jounalist and (female) academic who did the study spin it as an argument for treating men and women differently so they can do the same things. “[M]en and women differ in their ability to use different features of the environment as cues for navigating,” says the professor, but “when women are given the appropriate type of instructions, they do as well as men at navigation tasks.” So all you have to do is change all maps and coordinates into huge lists of landmarks and their relations, and—bingo! - equality of the sexes!

Oddly, the one comparison the story does not give is that between women with landmarks and men with geometrical instructions. So the one assertion for which no support is given is the final one, that women do as well as men when appropriately enabled.
Posted by Jim Kalb at May 25, 2002 07:08 AM | Send

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