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【经济学人】社会对女性的偏见,科学家要背锅?



五月,英国首相特雷莎·梅在采访中提及分工时说,家务中有的工作是女孩做,有的是男孩做的–比如她做饭,她丈夫负责倒垃圾。也许她本身只想秀个恩爱,但“男女分工有别”的言论还是在社交媒体上引起纷争。这篇《经济学人》的文章提到历史上很多著名的科学研究,夸大了男女之间的差异,加剧了人们对于性别的偏见。


社会对女性的偏见,科学家要背锅?

译者:王乐颖

校对:李林治

词汇:徐    唱

策划:朱宇晴


The way we are

真实的我们


本文选自 The Economist | 取经号原创翻译

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FOR much of history women were treated as men’s intellectual inferiors. Victorians believed that women’s reproductive health would be damaged if they strained their brains at university. A century ago few countries allowed women to vote. In 2005 Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, got into trouble for suggesting that one reason for the scarcity of women among scientists at elite universities may be due to “issues of intrinsic aptitude”. Some scientists rushed to his defence, citing research that suggested that this was true.

历史上绝大多数时间,女性都被认为在智力上不如男性。维多利亚时代的人们相信,如果女性在大学拼命学习,她们的生育能力就会受到损害。一个世纪之前,几乎没有国家允许女性投票。2005年,时任哈佛大学校长的劳伦斯·萨默斯指出,一流大学的女性科学家寥寥无几可能是有“先天的因素”,他因此惹上麻烦。一些科学家马上为他辩护,引用了各项支持他观点的研究。

strain /stren/ v. to exert (oneself, one’s senses, etc.) to the utmost. 尽量利用; 尽全力

scarcity /’skɛrsəti/ n. the quality or state of being scarce 缺乏;不足

aptitude /’æptə’tʊd/ n. natural ability or skill, especially in learning 自然倾向;天资;适宜


“Inferior” by Angela Saini, a British journalist and broadcaster (who has written in the past for The Economist), is an illuminating account of how science has stoked the views that innate preferences and abilities differ between men and women. Ms Saini unpicks some of the most influential studies that have framed women as gentle, caring and empathetic and men as strong, rational and dominant—differences attributed to biology and evolution. A striking pattern emerges: almost all of the prominent scientists behind these studies are men, whereas much of the growing, more recent research that disputes them is done by women.

安吉拉·萨伊尼,这位英国记者、广播员及曾经的《经济学人》撰稿人撰写了《弱势》一书。这本书很好地记录了科学如何夸大男女之间与生俱来的偏好与能力差异。萨伊尼选出了一些最具影响力的研究,这些研究认为生理和进化使得女性温柔、关怀备至、富有同情心;男性强壮、理性和占统治地位。一个令人震惊的规律出现了:进行这些研究的知名科学家大部分是男性,而近期持不同论点的、不断增加的研究是由女性完成的。

stoke /stəʊk/ to cause something to increase 加剧,激起

unpick /ʌnˈpɪk/ v. to examine the different parts of a subject, deal etc, especially in order to find faults 检视


Designating women as the weaker sex is biologically unfair. The natural sex ratio at birth is skewed in favour of boys, but they are more likely than girls to be born preterm and die in their first years of life. Women live longer than men and recover faster when they fall ill. Science is yet to find out why.

女性看作弱势性别是不公平的。尽管在出生时男孩在性别比例上占据优势,但和女孩相比,他们更可能早产,继而早夭。女性比男性活得更久,生病时恢复得更快。科学还没有找到合理的解释。

designate /ˈdezɪɡneɪt/ v. to represent or refer to something using a particular sign, name etc 指明

skew /skjuː/ v. to distort especially from a true value or symmetrical form 倾斜

preterm /ˈpriˌtɚm/ adj. of, relating to, being, or brought forth by premature birth 早产的


Men’s brains are 8-13% bigger than women’s. In the 19th century that was seen as proof that men were the cleverer sex. Since then, reams of research have shown that differences between the sexes in cognitive abilities or motor skills are very small or non-existent. When differences are found, they are not always in favour of the same sex and may shift over time. Girls in some countries are now better at maths than boys, for example. In America the ratio of boys to girls among children who are exceptionally talented at maths has plummeted since the 1970s. The brain, like other organs, is simply proportionate in size to men’s bigger bodies.

男性的大脑比女性大8-13%。19世纪时,这被当作男性更聪明的证据。从那时起,大量研究表明,两性在认知能力和运动技能上的差别微乎其微,或根本不存在。即使真有不同,这些差异在不同性别间区分并不明显,可能会随着时间的推移而改变。例如,现在某些国家的女孩要比男孩更擅长数学。在美国,对于数学格外有天赋的儿童中,男孩的比例自上世纪七十年代以来骤降。和其他器官一样,大脑只不过按比例生长,男性体型更大,大脑体积也更大。

reams /riːm/ n. [plural] a large amount of writing or information, usually on paper 许多(文字)

plummet /ˈplʌmɪt/ v. to suddenly and quickly decrease in value or amount 垂直下降


Yet scientists keep searching for sex differences in the brain, these days with imaging machines that measure brain activity. This line of research relies on human eyes looking for patterns, and also on imperfect technology (scans of a dead fish have shown dots of “activity” in its brain). Such studies grab headlines when they juxtapose cherry-picked images of male and female brains that look dramatically different from each other. Any links to behaviours or proclivities are purely speculative, yet the media like the fiction.

尽管如此,如今科学家使用影像机器来观测大脑活动,仍孜孜不倦地寻找两性的大脑差异。这种研究依赖人类的肉眼寻找规律,而且科技本身也并不完善(扫描死鱼也能显示出其大脑的“活动”区域)。每当这样的科研精挑细选出几张截然不同的男女大脑图片,把它们并列展示时,总能抢占头条。尽管大脑不同与行为或倾向之间的关系纯属假想,媒体还是喜欢这样的假设。

juxtapose /ˌdʒʌkstəˈpəʊz/ [formal] to put things together, especially things that are not normally together, in order to compare them or to make something new 并列

cherry pick /ˈtʃeripɪk/ to choose the best things or people you want from a group before anyone else has the chance to take them 特地挑选

speculative /ˈspekjələtɪv/ adj. based on guessing, not on information or facts 假设、猜想


In fact, no two brains are the same: each is a mosaic of features, some of which are more common in men and others in women. According to one analysis of studies on sex differences in the brain, the proportion of people whose brains had purely masculine or feminine features was between zero and 8%.

事实上,世界上没有两个完全相同的大脑。每一个大脑都由不同特性构成,某些特性在男性中更常见,某些在女性中更常见。根据一项有关两性大脑差异的研究分析,拥有完全男性或完全女性大脑的人,只占0-8%。


“Inferior” rounds up compelling evidence against several other stereotypes that cast women as natural caregivers, sexually coy and dependent for survival on men because that is how evolution supposedly intended it. Observations of primates and isolated tribes suggest that humans’ patriarchal order may have evolved by accident rather than out of evolutionary necessity. From there, it is easy to see how social norms have ensured that men and women are groomed into separate, gendered roles. By giving dolls to girls and trucks to boys, notes Ms Saini, “we feed our babies fantasies in pink or blue.” Infants have no innate preference for either. But they respond positively to what makes their caregivers happy.

《弱势》收集了一些令人信服的证据,反驳其他关于女性的固有偏见,包括出于进化的需要,女性是天生的看护者、羞涩腼腆、依靠男性才能活下来。通过观察灵长类动物和与世隔绝的原始部落后发现,人类的族群秩序的进化,很可能是个偶然,而不是出于进化的需要。由此,我们很容易推断出,社会规范将男女划分阵营,区别对待。萨伊尼女士指出,给女孩洋娃娃、给男孩玩具卡车的行为“给了孩子们粉色或蓝色的想象。”婴儿对于两者都没有天生的偏好,但他们会为了让照料自己的人开心,对收到的玩具做出积极的反应。

coy /kɔɪ/ adj. shy or pretending to be shy in order to attract people’s interest 害羞

primates /ˈpraɪmeɪt/ n. a member of the group of animals that includes humans and monkeys 灵长类动物


Women have come a long way since the days when they were rarely seen in universities or laboratories. “Inferior” is the story of how science made the journey tougher—until now.

从大学或实验室里几乎没有她们的日子到现在,女性已经走了很长的路。而《弱势》这本书讲述的就是迄今为止,科学如何让这段旅程变得更为艰难的故事。


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<原文链接:https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21724375-why-view-women-are-gentle-caring-and-empathetic-whereas-men-are-strong>

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