The Shape of a Woman

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This is compatible with a coevolutionary model of signal-preference evolution, although it does not rule out an alternative model, sensory exploitation. Preference shapes are shown to be genetic in origin. Understanding the attributes of female mating preferences is essential for progress in the study of sexual selection and in the assessment of many models of animal speciation 1 — 4.

It is the behavioral response of females to males, not to be confused with the individual sensitivities of sensory neural inputs. These alternatives have important consequences for the evolutionary dynamics of sexual systems, because directional preferences can favor ambidirectional modifier genes particularly if the shape is greater than linear and, hence, indirectly cause higher-than-average genetic variation for sexually selected traits 5. Another area in which preference shape is important concerns the function of the sexual communication system.

It is often supposed that stabilizing or absolute preferences suggest a species or specific-mate recognition function, whereas directional preferences are more likely to lie behind the exaggerated traits of sexual selection 4 , 6 — However, it is difficult to infer function from only the shape of a female mating preference 3 , For example, a normal preference function that is displaced from the male trait distribution will have a net effect of strongly directional selection.

Hence, influential models of Fishers Runaway Process 11 have achieved exaggeration of male traits with a normal female preference function. To date, little empirical work has directly addressed the shape of mating preferences 12 , and almost all work has inferred the shape from binomial choice tests.


For example, studies of frogs imply stabilizing preferences for important traits with some examples of directionality, especially for more complex traits 2. Mismatches between the most preferred trait and the mean trait have been found 13 , but it is usually not possible to say what preference shape is responsible for this.

The phonotaxis system of crickets allows multiple testing of the sexual preferences of females and has been used to infer attributes of female preference functions I have given bushcrickets katydids the choice between two artificial songs. One song not normally preferred by the female being tested was held constant, and an important parameter of the other song was varied systematically but in random sequence.

Excerpts from "The Devil in the Shape of a Woman"

Variation in the preferences shown by females allows the shape of preference functions to be plotted. The study organism was the bushcricket Ephippiger , which has a typical tettigoniid mating system with males calling and females approaching to initiate mating Usually, E. In polysyllabic populations, mean syllable number per male is highly repeatable: 0. This level of repeatability indicates that the trait can provide females with a reliable signal. The spectral profile of the song is peaked around 15 kHz, extends to over 40 kHz, and does not vary between song races.

In addition to syllable number, the song of these races also varies in the number of stridulatory peg strikes in the closing movement of each syllable and in the peg strike rate together determining syllable length.

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Chirps of calling song of monosyllabic a and polysyllabic b song races of Ephippiger. Each syllable consists of a short opening and longer closing wing movement during which individual stridulatory peg strikes can be seen , and the major component for female preference is the longer closing movement. Females prefer song typical of their own population 17 , Hybrid males have intermediate syllable numbers, and hybrid females prefer their song I have constructed models of polysyllabic, monosyllabic, and hybrid song that vary in syllable number.

Song synthesis was carried out using the signal software system Engineering Design, Belmont, MA at a digital-to-analog rate of kHz, a synthetic opening syllable, and a single real stridulatory peg impact, recorded using a Beyer Heilbronn, Germany MCE 6. The major syllable was made by inserting the peg strike repeatedly into a file at a location specified by the experimenter to produce a syllable of an appropriate length and a peg strike rate for the song type.

The amplitude envelope for syllable shape was the average of six extracted from different recordings. It and the opening syllable were invariant across song models. Subtle details of the models are faithfully reproduced with this equipment Virgin females, reared in the laboratory, were given a choice between their native song and a non-native song.

The native song was varied in syllable number, with each female given eight choices to each song pair. A single trial consisted of playing one song pair to a female four times, switching the song between speakers for consecutive presentations. Four choices of one song therefore requires three consecutive changes of direction. A complete set of song pairs was played to each female in random sequence, with a minimum of 20 min between each trial, then another set was completed with a different random sequence. All females completed all trials and are equally represented in the data, which were analyzed using cubic splines.

These are appropriate when the shape of the function is the feature under study 22 , and bootstrapping allows errors to be fitted to the curve. Although this technique was developed for a binomial response against a continuous variate, its use here is appropriate, because the discrete syllable numbers of Ephippiger reflect an underlying continuous trait 19 and the female preferences are likely to be continuous. This influenced the spread of peaks in the curves, but to the same extent for all analyses.

All females used in this study were virgins from laboratory stocks of French origin. The E. The shape of preference of monosyllabic females of Ephippiger. The non-native song was a four-syllabic chirp of polysyllabic E.

The shape of female mating preferences

Open circles are the proportion of choices of the native song type shown by the females. Karlsen's work is not merely of historical significance to the Salem outbreak of In fact, "that year remains something of an anomaly" Nissenbaum as one-third of the accused witches then were male compared to less than one-fifth of accusations made otherwise in colonial New England. Instead, Karlsen's study brings "women strongly back to center stage, locating them in a rich patriarchal matrix that integrates it with class and family. One reviewer notes that within this context, Karlsen offers significant insights.

The first is a look at the "ambivalent assessment of women within New England's culture. Karlsen finds a scenario marked by its time and place in which women embodied the "Puritan ideal of women as virtuous helpmeets" Boyer. In an odd duality, women were both the new stewards of God's spiritual leadership on earth, while subservient to a Medieval, misogynist gender role which largely placed their fate at the hands of men.


Secondly, Karlsen focuses attention on the accusers and finds that they were engaged in a "fierce negotiation Accusations of witchcraft were often an outlet where this negotiation boiled over into violence, as men persecuted female neighbors who threatened an established, but precarious, social order. The crucial thesis on which much of the book rests is that witchcraft accusations were most often made against women who threatened the orderly transfer of land from father to son - a process at best fraught with tension and anxiety and at worst marked by the shift of scarce, valuable properties from one family to another by way of an intervening woman in a patriarchal inheritance system.

The possessed girls played a dual role in this "symbolic cultural drama" in which they rebelled against the social role to which they had been predestined at birth by simultaneously acquiescing in that role by resisting the "witch. We appeal to companies that have not yet adopted this index to do so, and evaluate how they can reduce their wage gap, as this is a huge injustice and has been a source of sorrow for centuries. We have come a long way in appreciating the role of women in society, and here I speak not only from an employment perspective, but also about how we value the female ability to multi-task, our psychic and physical resilience as our body supports pregnancies, birth, and then regenerates itself or our optimistic outlook on life.

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These qualities are not aligned with our lower historical salaries, but may explain why we have not experienced a bloody female revolution, as we have been in a disadvantageous position with respect to men for centuries and millennia. Furthermore, if we take the case of the finance industry, despite the fact that we are statistically better repayers than men, we are offered smaller loans at higher interest rates, which has no logical explanation. We also have a long way to go on job flexibility and equity when sharing household chores.

This requires a cultural change, far beyond what can be established by law or a set of regulations. The objective is to share responsibilities inside and outside the home, thereby achieving fulfilling and happy lives for all. Yes, I am the only woman, and being in a traditionally male enclave is an ongoing challenge.

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We are more cautious when voicing our opinion, perhaps out of fear of the prejudice against us. More is demanded of us and we repeat and exaggerate that demand.

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I am creative and complementary, but not just because I am a woman. I believe that companies should have greater diversity in all areas not only by gender, and not to comply with political correctness, but because it has been shown that companies with more women, more artists, more humanists, more scientists, more representatives of indigenous peoples, more members of the LGBT community and more immigrants really are more productive and create a virtuous circle where various entities in society can work together to achieve a more friendly and prosperous environment.

This is a professional association that provides learning, where I have been able to work with more women and several men. I have realized that women are powerful when we unite our opinions, we build empowerment. Female DNA contains the ability to connect differing perspectives, to be generous in giving and sharing our talents, to allocate time to meetings, resulting in a collaboratively improved talent model where there is greater complementarity and added value.

Let me set out the context.