Glory vs. Relations

From a thoughtful essay by Christina Sommers: 

MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins, … (a prominent accuser of Harvard president Lawrence Summers … [who suggested] men and women might have different propensities and aptitudes), points to the hidden sexism of the obsessive and competitive work ethic of institutions like MIT.  "It is a system," Hopkins says, "where winning is everything, and women find it repulsive. … The list of cultural norms that appear to disadvantage women … includes the favoring of disciplinary over interdisciplinary research and publications, and the only token attention given to teaching and other service" …

If asked to make a drawing, little girls almost always create scenes with at least one person, while males nearly always draw things – cars, rockets, or trucks. … Among primates, including our closest relations the chimpanzees, males are more technologically innovative, while females are more involved in details of family life. … After two major waves of feminism, women still predominate – sometimes overwhelmingly – in empathy-centered fields such as early-childhood education, social work, veterinary medicine, and psychology, while men are over-represented in the "systematizing" vocations such as car repair, oil drilling, and electrical engineering. …

[Consider] women’s [amazing] progress in veterinary medicine …

Nationally, women now comprise fully 77 percent of students in veterinary schools, compared with 8 percent in the 1960s. Maines writes, "To be sure, puppies are cuter than microchips, but most of what veterinarians do isn’t about cute. Veterinary medicine … remains irreducibly bloody, messy, and often hazardous … It certainly requires a rigorous scientific education that is at least as difficult and daunting as what engineering demands."… Veterinary medicine would be a dream job for the scientifically gifted but empathy-driven female. This challenging and exciting field appeals to the feminine propensity to protect and nurture – and the desire to work with living things. …. [In] systematizing fields, free of people, children, or animals – professions like mechanical engineering, metallurgy, or agronomy … the number of men eager to enter these fields is markedly greater.

Humans often signal their abilities, resources, and loyalties.  Two common signal packages are glory (ability and resources realized into rankable achievement) and relations (resourceful able folks tied to you in mutual loyalty), and it seems men tend more to prefer glory, while women more prefer relations.   Social status in men vs. women seems to differ according to glory vs. relations, at least as seen in some mortality data, but it is hard to say how universal it is. 

If real, what biases might result?  Some say men are biased to glory over relations: "No one on his deathbed ever said he wished he’d spent more time at the office."  Are women also biased toward relations, later regretting that they sacrificed glory to secure relations?

Perhaps a more robust bias is that we think what is good for us is also good for the world.  For example, in stock male warhero and superhero fantasies, folks save the world or community and also happen thereby to achieve respect and praise.  Similarly, in stock female healing-through-love-and-understanding fantasies folks promote world peace, national reconciliation, or family closure via relation-building conversations, socializing, and travel.  Beware such self-serving fantasies. 

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