Eagly argues that policy should not influence science. “Science strives for valid findings, the truth of the findings, regardless of whether you like them or I like them. We strive to find out how the biology of people works. Would we close our minds as scientists because it might be politically incorrect?,” she says. How the evidence could influence policy is not up to her, she adds. “I’m not a social policy expert,” says Eagly.

That said, these scientific findings can certainly be used to positive effect. “If we have a better understanding of how biology impacts the developing brain, we might be better able to tailor educational practices to specific students,” says Stevens. In other words, nurture can be manipulated so that it more effectively interacts with nature to develop particular skills. If we ignore biology, says Stevens, “we’re not acknowledging that there might be another factor impacting things and then we wonder why things aren’t as effective.”

So what does the biology of gender mean for parents deciding whether or not to encourage their kids to play with less gender-conforming toys? Corinne’s daughter is now seven and loves Lego, science, space, fashion, art, makeup, and singing. Regardless of which of those preferences are influenced by biology and which by social factors, she’s clearly an individual rather than a reflection of a tired gender stereotype. Corinne says she’s noticed her 18-month-old son loves wrestling and climbing more than his sister did. But these differences do not affect equality in her household.

“The toys, clothes, colors, and games my kids like are their business,” she says. “What I will insist is that everyone in the house does chores equally. Everyone in the house will be raised with respect for other people and their boundaries. Both kids will be raised to be self-sufficient adults who can advocate for themselves.”

Gender may not be an entirely social construct. But the effects of biology do not confine us to traditional gender norms. And there’s no science that counters the value of gender equality.

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