Women & Men: The Biology of the Sexes
Be sure to check the website for updates!
Spring 2017
Mon./Thurs. 10:10 a.m.-noon
Betsy Sherman - Dickinson 108; office hours sign-up posted outside office each week


What do you think:
                    Daring to Discuss Women in Science
Sprinter Dutee Chand-testosterone level    

1.  Evolution
-University of California at Berkeley-Evolution site
         What is evolution and how does it work?
         What is the evidence for evolution?
    -general theory
          A mutant obsession
          Evolving mistakes
    -evolution of sex
    -evolution of the sexes

2.  Ontogeny of Gender Differences                          
-mitosis and meiosis and chromosomes: it is important to understand the distinction between a double-stranded and single-stranded chromosome; and between a haploid state and a diploid state for a cell (and under what circumstances they occur);  it is unimportant to know the names of the phases of meiosis and mitosis.
             -you may choose how you learn about these things: read an intro bio text; go to a qualified site on the internet or read two things that I have downloaded from
             -Clinton Community College's website:  mitosis and meiosis.
    -sex determination in different animals
    -genetics: zeroing in on the sex switch
    -Y chromosome  
    -hormones and DNA
    -anatomical sexual differentiation
    -American Academy of Pediatrics-recommendations for treatment and management of intersex children
     -Androgen and psychosexual development (CAH)
    -variations: androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), 5-alpha reductase deficiency
sexual differentiation of the brain
    -His brain, her brain
     -sex differences-toys
    -Changes in women’s sexual interests 
    -Sex differences in infants' interest in toys
    Molecular diagnosis-female athletes

 -sexual behavior of individuals
    -rise in female-initiated sexual actvity
    -variations in sexual behavior including:
         male homosexuality: LeVay: INAH-3Twin study; Byne; H-Y antigenbirth order;
         female fecundity/male homosexuality2009
         finger length ratios/sexual orientation
         female homosexuality
         Male to female transsexuality-response to odors
        Same-sex sexual behavior and evolution
        Genetic and Environmental Influences on Female Sexual Orientation, Childhood Gender Typicality and Adult Gender Identity

        Brain scans show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects (2008)
                 Sexual orientation and its basis in brain structure and function-review of brain scan paper

          Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-sex Sexual Behavior (2010)-both male and female homosexuality

3.  Evolutionary antecedents of human sexual behavior and mating systems
    -evolution of mating systems and sexual selection:
            Male dominance rank and reproductive success in chimpanzees
            How females choose their mates;
            Voice pitch and repro success
            MHC preferences in humans;
            Female odors-sexual selection
           Waist-hip ratios-Singh 2002
    -the significance of sex ratios
    Lethal aggression in chimpanzees
    -units of selection
    -evolution of altruism:   Part 1;   Part 2
    -parent-offspring conflict
    -infanticide and promiscuity
    -Mothers and others (Hrdy, 2001)
    -Meet the alloparents (Hrdy, 2009)
    -Cooperative breeding and human cognitive evolution
    -Evolution of menopause
    -Social components of fitness in primate groups

Course requirements

The readings for this course will be taken mainly from a collection of papers that will be distributed by the professor.  Additional readings from other sources may sometimes be assigned.  Of course, students are encouraged to branch out and do more than the minimum required reading. Take responsibility for your own learning.  You will find the work much more rewarding if you come to class prepared, having read the assignment carefully so that you can participate in discussions.  Attendance is requiredDo not be late for class as it disrupts all of us.  Students will write two or three  essay problem sets, either in class or at home.  From time to time, I may give a brief quiz on the assigned reading at the beginning of a class.  Late papers will not be acceptedAll of the assigned work must be completed in order to pass this course.  If you must miss a class it is your responsibility to get the assignment and come to the next class prepared.  Please do not email me or leave phone messages for trivial matters (e.g. is it ok for me to be late...can you put the assignment in my box...etc.).   Please check my office hours (posted outside my office, Dickinson 108) or make an appointment with me at the end of class.  If you are having difficulty with the work, please come talk to me!

Class comportment and common decency
It is important for all of us to come together as a group interested in discussing problems in the biology of the sexes.  Each of us is part of this group, and as such, our behavior is not just about each of us as individuals, but also about being members of a group.  Be respectful and attentive.  Do not arrive late, as it is disrespectful and disruptive.  Do not leave the room during class, as it is disrespectful and disruptive.  Plan your time.  Use the bathroom before class.  Bring water, tissues, lozenges, etc. with you. Do not engage in any activity that you would avoid at a job interview (e.g. do not pick your nose or skin, do not slouch, play with your hair, chew on your nails, etc.)  Turn off your cell phone before coming to class.  Do not surf the web or check your email during class. 

Class attendance is required.  Plan your work. All assignments must be submitted on time in order to pass this class. Frequently I write assignments on the board or project them in class so be prepared to write them down. If you must miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the assignment and find out from another student about missed work. If you plan to miss class before or after Long Weekend or Thanksgiving, either change your plans or do not take this class.  If you plan to miss the last class, either change your plan, or do not take this class. An absence is an absence with no distinction between excused and not.

The work is the thing.