Friday, January 09, 2009

Accepted wisdom which isn't true

"You know that it is the MAN which determines the sex of the child", she said. Oh yes, I have heard that many many times. And I am, by the way, a biologist, so am well aware of the whole X,Y thing. But mull this over:

A man contributes a couple of hundred million sperm to the project: There has got to be about a hundred million that have an X and another hundred million which have a Y chromosome.

The man has at this point "done his work" and the rest is out of his hands.

Isn't it just as fair to say that the woman decides which one makes it to the top of the corporate ladder? As the father of three girls, I say there is plenty of evidence that the boys are trying to compete in a hostile working environment.

Interestingly, there is a machine which can sort spermatozoa by sex: The Y chromosome is very small while the X is a normal mid-sized one. This mass difference is enough for a flow cytometer to sort them. Women do not have flow cytometers as part of their normal anatomy...they don't? Heavens! Has the press been made aware of this? From what I understand, there are actually ways of biasing the percentages. It turns out that sperm vary in their speed, endurance and susceptibility to pH.

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