Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Designing Women +

The "nature vs. nurture" debate shows no signs of being resolved any time soon. Even if incontrovertible physical evidence were provided, some people would simply ignore it because it conflicts with the sociopolitical belief system in which they are invested.

Without going too deeply into my views on the subject, a minor comment:

Originally Posted by Aiten:
Our brain stories memories and regulates the body through chemical releases. The communication is done in a similar way to binary (just electrical pulses on varying levels of strength), but the actual storing and running is all chemicals.
And what's particularly important about this is that it starts while our brains are forming. Estrogen and testosterone levels begin varying based on sex differences while we're still in the womb, and while the fundamental forms and connections of our brains are taking shape. Among other things, this is responsible for the greater size of the corpus callosum -- the part of the brain in between the two hemispheres that connects them to each other -- in women than in men.

Even if we're unable to put our fingers precisely on the mechanism, this in-utero biochemical differentiation suggests that it's not unreasonable to believe that men and women in the aggregate really do think differently.


That said, I'd like to steer us back to what I hinted at in my (deliberately) chosen thread title: What, if anything, does this imply for women in the game development industry?

Is Smedley right to give preference to women for certain game design opportunities because, as Paglia and Sommers suggest, men are different enough mentally from women that they find it hard to figure out what women (or girls) like?

Or is he wrong to do so because that contradicts the position of feminists of the Friedan/Steinem school, which is that even to imply that men and women might think differently is sexist and discriminatory?

If men and women should be treated as though they're the same mentally, then what rationale is there for outreach efforts to hire more women in game development?