Conversations in Science
for K-12 Educators

A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center.

Thursday, November 20, 2003 at 4:00 p.m.

Men Are from Earth, Women Are from Earth: Science vs. the Media on Psychological Gender Differences

Janet Shibley Hyde, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin--Madison.

The mass media are full of messages implying that women and men are, psychologically, extremely different from each other. One example is John Gray's book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. In this talk I examine the scientific data to see whether these claims are accurate. I use a statistical technique called meta-analysis to synthesize relevant data from literally hundreds of studies on these issues. I will address the following questions: Are there gender differences in mathematics performance? Do adolescent girls suffer a self-esteem deficit compared with adolescent boys? And, following from the theorizing of Carol Gilligan, do males and females use different kinds of moral reasoning?

About the Presenter:

Janet Shibley Hyde is Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. She is the author of two widely used undergraduate textbooks, Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women (6th edition, 2004, Houghton-Mifflin) and Understanding Human Sexuality (8th edition, 2003, McGraw-Hill). Over the past 15 years she has conducted a program of research using the technique of meta-analysis to examine whether widely assumed psychological gender differences actually exist.

Suggestions for reading:

Hyde, J. S. (2004). Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139-155.

Kling, K. C., Hyde, J. S., Showers, C. J., & Buswell, B. N. (1999). Gender differences in self-esteem: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 470-500.