Tall guys

(About gender rather than language.) Today’s Dilbert:

Meanwhile, collected in real life at a local restaurant yesterday, one Silicon Valley tech guy to another, veering briefly from Valley Talk to personal matters:

Chicks dig tall guys.

In another context, this could have been framed as

Guys dig short chicks.

On height, there’s a strong tendency towards dissortative mating, the socially ideal pair having a man taller than his female partner.

For some time, I’ve been collecting gender observations from Valley types in local restaurants (where these guys are thick on the ground). Last year, four guys at lunch, starting with venture-capital talk but going on to muse on women in the workplace and drifting into a group riff on how women’s brains work entirely differently from men’s (this providing the explanation for cross-gender issues at work). Of course, that’s “just common knowledge” in our culture, but these guys bolstered their opinions by reference to the “findings of neuroscientists” (guys like to exhibit their expertise and technical knowledge).

Here’s Mark Liberman on Language Log, in “Neuroscience in service of sexual stereotypes” of 8/6/06:

It’s recently fashionable for books and articles to enlist neuroscience in support of the view that men and women are essentially and unavoidably different, not just in size and shape, but also in just about every aspect of the way they see, hear, feel, talk, listen and think. These works tend to confirm our culture’s current stereotypes and prejudices, and the science they cite is often overinterpreted, and sometimes seems simply to have been made up. I recently discussed an example from Leonard Sax’s book Why Gender Matters (“Are men emotional children?“, 6/24/2006), which David Brooks has used to support an argument for single-sex education. The latest example of this genre, released August 1, is Louann Brizendine‘s book “The Female Brain“.

Mark went on to savage Brizendine’s claims, in this posting and in a series of successors. But Sax, Brizendine, and others caught the public fancy, and now many educated people (like those guys at lunch) believe that neuroscience demonstrates that gender stereotypes are fact.

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