chapter  9
44 Pages

The Cognitive Self as an Agent of Gender Development

Does this story make logical sense? If you were not caught by the trap of refl exively assuming that neurosurgeons are men, presumably you had no diffi culty interpreting the vignette. But even if you avoided this trap, you can be confi dent that many fellow readers-even in the 21st century-will be puzzled by the story. Just a decade or two ago, it would have been the exception, not the rule, to have concluded immediately and effortlessly that the neurosurgeon was the boy’s mother. It was within this time frame that one of us told this story at a family gathering. With a single exception (someone who had received her medical degree in 1939), everyone was stumped. They guessed that perhaps the doctor was the sperm donor, a stepfather, and offered several other completely illogical possibilities.