Diskriminierung von Frauen im wissenschaftlichen Bereich

Eine interessante Studie zur Diskriminierung von Frauen im wissenschaftlichen Bereich (abstract/full text) (via):

Explanations for women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields of science often focus on sex discrimination in grant and manuscript reviewing, interviewing, and hiring. Claims that women scientists suffer discrimination in these arenas rest on a set of studies undergirding policies and programs aimed at remediation. More recent and robust empiricism, however, fails to support assertions of discrimination in these domains. To better understand women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields and its causes, we reprise claims of discrimination and their evidentiary bases. Based on a review of the past 20 y of data, we suggest that some of these claims are no longer valid and, if uncritically accepted as current causes of women’s lack of progress, can delay or prevent understanding of contemporary determinants of women’s underrepresentation. We conclude that differential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today. Addressing today’s causes of underrepresentation requires focusing on education and policy changes that will make institutions responsive to differing biological realities of the sexes. Finally, we suggest potential avenues of intervention to increase gender fairness that accord with current, as opposed to historical, findings.

Ich vermute mal, dass die alten Studien dennoch unkritisch weiter publiziert werden.

Dass das daran festhalten sogar schädlich für Frauen sein kann spielt dabei eine geringere Rolle als die Aufrechterhaltung der Ideologie.

Stressreaktionen bei Mann und Frau

Anne Moir, Mitautorin des sehr guten Buches „Brain Sex“ stellt auf ihrer Seite einige interessante Unterschiede in der Reaktion auf Stress von Mann und Frau zusammen.

Im wesentlichen geht es darum, dass Männer bei Stress für „Kämpfen oder Fliehen“ („Fight or Flight“) und Frauen für „Sorge und Befreunde“ (Tend and befriend“) vorbereitet werden. Diese Einstellung erfolgt wohl im wesentlichen durch ein unterschiedliches Hormonsystem.

Die Unterschiede werden dort wie folgt dargestellt:

Sex differences in stress response

When challenged, level of epinephrine/adrenaline in males is double that in females. Men have a consistently higher response to most, but not all, challenging situations than do women. By contrast, women show more of an adrenaline high in emotionally demanding situations than do men. Cortisol is also a measure of our ’stress levels. If it remains high for a long time it creates that feeling of anxiety. Again, there are differences in the way it presents in men and women.

Cortisol Response

  • Cortisol in short bursts helps in demanding situations by sharpening concentration
  • If cortisol is too high for too long it harms the body and the brain
  • In women the cortisol reaction is stronger and remains longer than in men

The key behavioural mechanism underlying the ‚tend and befriend‘ theory in women draws heavily on the attachment/bonding/care giving system and our old friend from research news: Oxytocin.

Oxytocin and sex differences in stress reduction

Female oxytocin and her stress response:

  • The adrenaline response triggers the release of oxytocin
  • The female hormone oestrogen enhances the action of oxytocin
  • Oxytocin induces relaxation and lowers cortisol
  • Oxytocin reduces the stress

A woman can relieve her feelings of anxiety by caring for others

Under stress she is neurologically primed to tend

As we learned in the news section, oxytocin is the primary hormone oiling the social networking wheels. It’s much more the female pattern when coping with stressful situations.

His pattern of response is different:

  • Male vasopressin is a hormone related to aggression and the male stress response
  • The adrenaline response triggers the release of vasopressin
  • The male hormone testosterone enhances the action of vasopressin and inhibit oxytocin
  • Vasopressin increases the aggressive response in males
  • Under stress he is neurologically primed for fight or flight

Moir legt dann dar, dass dies auch zu klassischen Unterschieden zwischen Mann und Frau führt.

Frauen brauchen bei Stress soziale Kontakte, müssen darüber reden, brauchen keinen Wettbewerb in diesem Moment, er verstärkt eher den Stress (vgl. auch „Frauen, Wettbewerb und Adrenalin„)

Männer hingegen brauchen bei Stress eher Ruhe als Frauen (vielleicht auch der Grund, warum Männer eher dazu neigen, sich bei klassischen Männerhobbys wie Modellbau oder Briefmarkensammeln zu entspannen).

Vasopressin, Paarbindung und Aggression

Der Wikipedia-Artikel zu Vasopressin enthält einige interessante Stellen zu dessen Wirkungsweise, die in dem Artikel „Lust, Anziehung und Verbundenheit oder auch Liebe“ schon einmal angeklungen ist.

In recent years, there has been particular interest in the role of vasopressin in social behavior. It is thought that vasopressin, released into the brain during sexual activity, initiates and sustains patterns of activity that support the pair-bond between the sexual partners; in particular, vasopressin seems to induce the male to become aggressive towards other males.

Evidence for this comes from experimental studies in several species, which indicate that the precise distribution of vasopressin and vasopressin receptors in the brain is associated with species-typical patterns of social behavior. In particular, there are consistent differences between monogamous species and promiscuous species in the distribution of AVP receptors, and sometimes in the distribution of vasopressin-containing axons, even when closely-related species are compared.

Moreover, studies involving either injecting AVP agonists into the brain or blocking the actions of AVP support the hypothesis that vasopressin is involved in aggression towards other males. There is also evidence that differences in the AVP receptor gene between individual members of a species might be predictive of differences in social behavior. One study has suggested that genetic variation in male humans effects pair-bonding behavior. The brain of males uses vasopressin as a reward for forming lasting bonds with a mate, and men with one or two of the genetic alleles are more likely to experience marital discord. The partners of the men with two of the alleles affecting vasopressin reception state disappointing levels of satisfaction, affection, and cohesion. Vasopressin receptors distributed along the reward circuit pathway, to be specific in the ventral pallidum, are activated when AVP is released during social interactions such as mating, in monogamous prairie voles. The activation of the reward circuitry reinforces this behavior, leading to conditioned partner preference, and thereby initiates the formation of a pair bond.

Eine andere Studie geht in eine ähnliche Richtung:

Vasopressin/oxytocin and related peptides comprise a phylogenetically old superfamily of chemical signals in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Each peptide isoform has its own distinct receptor subtype and specific cellular action. The conservation and dispersion of vasopressin/oxytocin signalling systems across the animal kingdom attests to their functional significance in evolution. Indeed, they are involved in the physiology of fluid balance, carbohydrate metabolism, thermoregulation, immunity and reproduction. In addition, these peptides evolved a role in social behaviours related to aggression and affiliation. The focus of this chapter is the role of vasopressin/oxytocin as chemical signals in the brain altering aggressive responding in a context- and species-dependent manner. There is compelling evidence from several mammalian species including humans that vasopressin enhances aggression. The activity of the vasopressin appears linked to the serotonin system providing a mechanism for enhancing and suppressing aggressive behaviour.

Es könnte demnach eine Bindung gegenüber bestimmten Personen, aber Aggression gegenüber anderen Personen bewirkt werden. Auch die geschlechtsbezogene Seite finde ich natürlich sehr interessant. Hier könnte die Ursache für eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Verhaltensweisen liegen. Beispielsweise die Unterschiede bei den Big Five, nach denen Frauen bei der Verträglichkeit („Agreeableness“) im Schnitt besser abschneiden.