After he underwent a sex change nine years ago at the age of 42, Barres recalled, another scientist who was unaware of it was heard to say, "Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but then his work is much better than his sister's."
And as a female undergraduate at MIT, Barres once solved a difficult math problem that stumped many male classmates, only to be told by a professor: "Your boyfriend must have solved it for you."
"By far," Barres wrote, "the main difference I have noticed is that people who don't know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect" than when he was a woman. "I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man."
Barres underwent a lot of criticism for writing on gender differences, or lack thereof, and even though most of his writings focus on studies and data people assume he is taking things "too personally."
Some of those who argue against him tried to bring up a handful of studies again, the typical ones that argue that a man performs better at the highest echelons in math than women even though on the average, men and women perform about the same. Or other studies that suggest women are better at "verbal" things and men at computation. One of Barre's colleagues, Dr. Spelke, responded to the interview and has argued against making conclusions from such data that would imply genetic differences between male and female brains. Coming back to Ms. Sommers and her hackneyed theory that women "choose" to go into other fields and that is why they are absent, I love the quote from Dr. Spelke:
"You won't see a Chinese face or an Indian face in 19th-century science," she said. "It would have been tempting to apply this same pattern of statistical reasoning and say, there must be something about European genes that give rise to greater mathematical talent than Asian genes."
"I think we want to step back and ask, why is it that almost all Nobel Prize winners are men today?" she concluded. "The answer to that question may be the same reason why all the great scientists in Florence were Christian."
So non-Christian scientists or Chinese scientists in the 19th century European theatre probably just chose to do something else, something more fulfilling, right Sommers?