Brain disorder eradicates ethnic but not gender bias

The disorder in question is Williams Syndrome (WS), which is a neurodevelopmental disorder due to the deletion of 26 genes from chromosome 7. Apart from a typical elfin appearance, one of the more remarkable symptoms is cheerfulness and an open demeanor to strangers.

The research shows that

[…] children with WS lack racial stereotyping, though they retain gender stereotyping, compared to matched typically developing children. Our data indicate that mechanisms for the emergence of gender versus racial bias are neurogenetically dissociable. Specifically, because WS is associated with reduced social fear, our data support a role of social fear processing in the emergence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping.

One caveat, as expressed in the account at NatureNews is that WS is associated with mental retardation, which may have an effect.

The study does not answer whether stereotyping is genetically determined or based on experience, Meyer-Lindenberg says. So he’d also like to examine the role of experience, for instance, by finding children who have been raised by two members of the same sex.

“Until this study, I think people never imagined that these two stereotypes would be biologically separable,” Gabrieli says. “Whether it turns out to be due to genes, the environment or a complicated interaction, it shifts the discussion.”

But to where would it shift the discussion?

(via @NeuroNow)

ESWIP Virtual Conference is open

From swip-l:


Conference Open!

I’m pleased to announce the official opening of the 2010 ESWIP Virtual Conference!

Our first paper–Jennifer Benson’s “Daly, Lugones, and the Ontology of Freedom”–is up and available for commenting – you can find a link to the paper’s main page in the top right corner of the website, next to the “Registration” and “About” pages.

For an explanation of how this all works, copy and paste this link into an address bar:

I’d also like to remind everyone to register, both with ESWIP: (copy and paste into address bar)

And with the conference website (this gives you the ability to comment on posts):  (copy and paste into address bar)


Maeve M. O’Donovan, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary, Eastern Society for Women in Philosophy
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
College of Notre Dame of Maryland
4701 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210

It can be done!

This post might be taken as a follow-on to Jender’s post on the gendered conference campaign, though the success in this case should be attributed to the good sense of an organizer, Dan Wieskopf.

102nd Meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology
April 15-17, 2010
Westin Peachtree Plaza
Atlanta, GA
Philosophy Invited Program

Invited Speakers:
Alfonso Caramazza (Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology,
Department of Psychology, Harvard University)
Concepts, Actions and Objects: Insights from Cognitive Neuroscience

Peter Carruthers (Philosophy, Maryland)
Primate Metacognition: Its Nature and Extent

Robert McCauley (William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor and
Director, Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture, Emory University)
Taking a Cognitive Point of View: Religions as Rube Goldberg Devices

Invited Symposium on Language and Thought:
José Luis Bermudez (Philosophy, Washington University)
Elisabeth Camp (Philosophy, Penn)
Michael Rescorla (Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara)

Invited Symposium on The Self:
Barry Dainton (Philosophy, Liverpool)
Jenann Ismael (Philosophy, Arizona and Sydney)
Robert Howell (Philosophy, SMU)

Invited Symposium on Mental Representation:
Kathleen Akins (Philosophy, Simon Fraser)
Larry Barsalou (Psychology, Emory)
William Ramsey (Philosophy, UNLV)

More information, including the psychology part, at:

RIP Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee Nation Chief

One of the most influential American Indian leaders in recent history, most knew former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller for strengthening her tribe and drawing the accolades of U.S. presidents. But it was her humble, tender nature — a refusal to squash a bug, an affinity for opera — that defined her life, friends said Saturday.
Mankiller, among the few women to ever lead a major tribe, was remembered during a memorial that drew more than 1,200 mourners, including dignitaries from other tribes and governments, as a respected leader who earned the nation’s highest civilian honor.

More here. And an even better more here. (Thanks, Jender-Mum!)

Gendered Conference Campaign Success Story

We get a lot of grief for our Gendered Conference Campaign, both online and off– enough that sometimes I honestly just can’t face doing a post and waiting for the shit to hit the fan again. We do spend time wondering if it’s worth it, and if it’s a good way to accomplish our goals or if it’s just making people angry and being counterproductive. So it was lovely to get this email over the weekend, which I thought I’d share with you:

Our chapter of Phi Sigma Tau held our conference yesterday which turned out to be a great example of gender representation in philosophy. When the president of PST began planning the conference, I talked to him about the importance of gender representation and directed him to this website. He was hesitant at first, but after about half an hour he began to see the bigger picture. I explained how important it is for philosophy students to see female names on conference schedules and hear women’s voices if for no other reason than it breaks the stereotype that philosophers must be male. This hadn’t ever occurred to the president of PST before, but he said he would think about it. Over the next month he sought me out a few more times to ask my opinions about when gender should be relevant and when it shouldn’t, so he was clearly making an effort.

The conference yesterday was a great success. Although the genders were nowhere near equally represented, women were represented in a way that may not have happened unless I spoke up. There are so few female grad students in our department that it is clear the president called every single woman asking her to take part.

Out of ten speakers, only one was a woman.
Out of ten commenters, two were women.
Out of ten moderators, four were women. (this was a new position that I suspect was created solely to include more women in the conference.)

That might not seem like very many women, but I heard multiple people from other programs comment on how many women there are in our department. Again, there are actually very few women in our department, but the president made sure they were all seen on stage. It changed the face of the conference in a way that gives me hope for the future of philosophy. Although the men who planned the conference were hesitant about my views at first, after reflection they realized I was right and acted on those new beliefs. I could tell they were proud of the non-gendered conference they put together, and I’m sure they will make the same effort in ever conference they put together throughout their careers. They stopped seeing my request as affirmative action, and started seeing it as a way to improve the field they love so much.

Thanks, ES– you’ve made my week!