One summer morning over ten years ago I was home with my three kids
when I heard the hissing of a burst water pipe outside my apartment building.
Holding my youngest, then still a baby, in my arms, I rushed to the yard, bent
the end of the gushing rubber pipe from an automatic garden-watering system
to stop the water running, and asked my two older kids to call a friend who
lived next door. When my friend arrived, I assumed he’d take care of the
situation. But he just stood there, obviously at a loss. Only then did it dawn
on me that he was just as clueless about plumbing as I was. I asked him to
hold the folded pipe—and the baby—and went looking for the main faucet so
I could shut off the water.
It had taken the bewildered look on my friend’s face for me to become
aware of my own bias. I must admit I was embarrassed. I had always
believed in equality between the sexes, and I thought I was running my life
accordingly. Yet here I was, expecting a man to handle a technical
Just around that time, I received an excellent opportunity to explore in
depth my own and other people’s gender biases: a colleague asked me to take
over a course on the psychology of gender she had been teaching at Tel Aviv
University. To prepare, I spent a year reading books and scientific articles on
the development of women and men from the moment of conception. As a
neuroscientist, I was most interested in the relationship between sex and the

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