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Swedish neuroscience professor under fire for saying there are biological differences between men and women


Lund University, Sweden Credit: Nick Thompson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Lund University, Sweden Credit: Nick Thompson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sweden’s renowned neuroscience professor Dr. Germund Hesslow was teaching a class in a course called “Heritage and Environment” at Lund University when a student asked a question about sex, unrelated to the class topic.

Hesslow came under attack after he answered the question by stating research shows that there are differences between the female and male sex that are “biologically founded.” In other words, some of the differences between men and women are due to biology and not because of societal expectations and pressures.

University of Toronto Psychology professor Jordan Peterson has come under similar criticism for stating that the difference in the pay gap between men and women is not because of discrimination, though that is a small part of it, but due largely to biology and the different interests of men and women.

He even cites statistics from Scandinavian countries that show women are clearly more interested in fields related to people such as medicine and teaching, while men focus more on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

Since the STEM field includes jobs that tend to be higher paying, such as engineering, this is one of the reasons for the pay gap difference. Women are completely capable of doing STEM related jobs, but generally don’t pursue them as a career because they don’t find them interesting.

After Professor Hesslow made those comments in his class a female student made an official complaint against Hesslow calling him “anti-feminist” and “trans-phobic.” She also stated that Hesslow’s views were against Sweden’s “egalitarian” and “equality of sexes” values.

In response, the professor was summoned to a meeting with Christer Larsson, the head of the board overseeing the course, who asked Hesslow to recant two of his statements that were apparently recorded.

According to RT.com:

“The university asked Hesslow to ‘distance’ himself from two specific comments that gay women have a ‘male sexual orientation’ and that whether transsexuality is a sexual orientation is ‘a matter of definition.'”

Hesslow refused stating in a letter to Larsson that in universities “ideology, politics and prejudice form the conventional outlook, not science.”

The professor stated that since the question was unrelated to the course material he tried to be as brief as possible telling RT, “I used wording that was completely innocuous and that apparently the student didn’t.”

The Swedish neuroscientist further suggested that he believes the student attacked him for he was attacked by the student because of “ideological reasons,” adding that the student didn’t like what she was hearing and looked for a reason to complain about the professor.

Because Hesslow refused to back down, the university has launched a full investigation into the incident. Hesslow says that the university is considering several options from firing the professor to cancelling the class.

Sources:

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