Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture

I am a female computer scientist and software engineer. I am also a poet and dancer, as well as tuned to empathy and support. I find meaning in artistic forms of expression and nurturing activities; yet I found that through persistence I was able to be good enough at math and science to excel in my studies and draw a really nice paycheck in computer programming.

Nature wired me with an inclination for nurturing and creativity, but I was nurtured in science and math, as a boy, because that's what I was assigned at birth. I struggled at first, but was able to eventually outperform anyone to whom I set my mind, especially in the field of logic. Meanwhile, I suppressed my natural proclivities.

I am a transsexual woman, who was born with a mild disorder of sexual development, invisible to the doctors and my parents.I played with all the toys I was given, but craved dance and nurturing toys. I learned spatial skills as well as military concepts because my father was in the Air Force. He had a vision that I would grow up to be a scientist or engineer, even though I preferred hanging around my mother.

Nurture won, but when I finally stopped suppressing my natural proclivities, I found I was able to develop them as well, in lightning speed over the last few years, and I know now I am the person I was meant to be.

In summary, while gender and a natural aptitude is programmed into us, shy of severe brain damage, the brain is plastic enough to mold skill in other areas. Men can learn to develop an artistic and empathetic sense, and women can develop a sense of reasoning.

What also comes into play is the theory of framesets. Many girls are told at an early age, when they achieve, that they are pretty and smart. Boys are told that they can achieve if they keep working at it. People internalize this. If they are told they are smart, they tend to believe that intelligence is something you are born with, and any failures they encounter may cause them them to doubt their own intelligence. On the other hand, people who are told they need to work harder to achieve, may come to believe that intelligence can be increased through dedication. This at least partly explains why so many female engineers are Asian.

In the end, Nature cannot be ignored, but Nurture can help to to round people out.



Hugs and Blessings,
Sopfia

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