A new battleground has opened up in the war of the sexes: Are men better at drawing or are women? You might have your own opinion about this, but recently a group of scientists set out to answer the question more rigorously. They did five experiments in 19 countries, and their results were crystal clear: Although there are exceptions, in general women’s drawings are better. They’re more accurate, more creative, and just more pleasant to look at. Sorry men!
Discussing the findings, the lead researcher said: ”We were surprised at just how consistent the effect was. In every country we looked at, women were better at drawing. The difference wasn’t always large, but it was always there. Now we just need to work out why!” So next time the question comes up at a dinner party or in class, you’ll know the answer: Women draw better than men!
What do you think?
Personally, I can’t remember noting any differences in drawing ability between boys and girls at my coed elementary school. All I can remember is that I was pretty bad at drawing, although I still drew a whole lot of airplanes. Now that I think about it, I can remember taking drawing in summer school after my 4th grade year from Mrs. Wise and being impressed with some of my drawings. But I think Mrs. Wise was good at teaching the various tricks that can make a not terribly coordinated 9-year-old look okay.
Since 8th grade, I haven’t had all that much experience with males and females drawing.
My guess, from going to art museums, would be that, in the usual pattern, at the extreme right edge of the distribution of drawing skills, out there with Raphael (there is, to the best of my knowledge, one Raphael in Southern California, at the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, and it’s a stunner), there are more males than females.
But, on average, I’d imagine the sexes are pretty similar. Girls would have better fine-motor skills and boys would tend to have more visual imagination, especially 3-d, so they’d come out pretty similar.
In reality, however, the above popular science article is a hoax made up for a study. They also made up a mirror image version in which males are better at drawing. And they made up articles in which females and males are better at a negative trait, lying.
The researchers wanted to find out if modern people are biased in favor of men or of women. From PLOS One:
Steve Stewart-Williams, Xiu Ling Wong, Chern Yi Marybeth Chang, Andrew G. Thomas
Published: March 30, 2022
Research on sex differences is sometimes controversial. From the sociobiology wars of the 1970s to the scandals surrounding Lawrence Summers and James Damore, various culture-war flare-ups have centered on unwelcome claims about differences between men and women. Some commentators [Ann Althouse] point out, however, that not all sex-difference claims are equally likely to arouse concern or consternation. One potentially important factor shaping people’s reactions to research on sex differences is whether the findings paint men or women in a better light. At first glance, there would appear to be three main predictions about how this would impact people’s reactions (assuming it impacts them at all).
- Anti-Female Bias: People will react more positively to male-favoring findings.
- Pro-Female Bias: People will react more positively to female-favoring findings.
- Gender Tribalism: Men will react more positively to male-favoring findings; women will react more positively to female-favoring findings. …
The aversion to male-favoring sex differences is contrary to what many would expect and could have significant theoretical and practical implications—shedding light, for instance, on the conduct and reception of research on sex differences, challenging common views about gender stereotypes and gender-ingroup bias, and helping quell conflict between the sexes. As such, it is important to assess the replicability of the finding. That was the aim of the present study. More precisely, the aim was to conduct a direct replication of our initial study on the topic, with a comparable Western sample and the same materials. The hypotheses below are based on the results of the earlier study, which was pre-registered with OSF (https://osf.io/6n5up/).
- Participants will react more positively to female- than male-favoring sex differences.
- Participant sex will have no impact on the strength of this effect.
- The more privileged that participants think men are over women, the more negatively they will react to male-favoring differences and the more positively to female-favoring differences.
- The more that participants lean to the left politically, the more negatively they will react to male-favoring differences. Political orientation will not predict reactions to female-favoring differences.
- Both sexes will greatly overestimate the extent to which the average man and woman exhibit a preference for own-sex-favoring sex differences.
Note that Hypotheses 1 and 5 are the same as the original study, as the results were consistent with our hypotheses; Hypothesis 2 differs from the original study (we initially predicted that the preference for female-favoring findings would be stronger for female participants, but did not find this); and Hypotheses 3 and 4 were not part of the original study (the patterns emerged through exploratory analysis).
So, we live in a culture biased in favor of science favoring women. But our biases are less based on our sex than on our political ideology, with Leftists being notably anti-male.
We report a direct replication of our earlier study looking at how people react to research on sex differences depending on whether the research puts men or women in a better light. Three-hundred-and-three participants read a fictional popular-science article about fabricated research finding that women score higher on a desirable trait/lower on an undesirable one (female-favoring difference) or that men do (male-favoring difference). Consistent with our original study, both sexes reacted less positively to the male-favoring differences, with no difference between men and women in the strength of this effect. Also consistent with our original study, belief in male privilege and a left-leaning political orientation predicted less positive reactions to the male-favoring sex differences; neither variable, however, predicted reactions to the female-favoring sex differences (in the original study, male-privilege belief predicted positive reactions). As well as looking at how participants reacted to the research, we looked at their predictions about how the average man and woman would react. Consistent with our earlier results, participants of both sexes predicted that the average man and woman would exhibit considerable own-sex favoritism. In doing so, they exaggerated the magnitude of the average woman’s own-sex favoritism and predicted strong own-sex favoritism from the average man when in fact the average man exhibited modest other-sex favoritism. A greater awareness of people’s tendency to exaggerate own-sex bias could help to ameliorate conflict between the sexes.