Science Questions

Are left handed females a rarity?

Tue, 1st Apr 2014

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Catherine asked:

I'm left-handed and a female. Is that rare? I've heard there were more personality or mental issues with left-handed women?


A girl smiling or laughing.Chris M. -   I'm not going to go down that road, but I think it is rarer to be left-handed in a woman.  We reckon there's about 5 left-handed men for every 4 left-handed women.

Chris -   Why?

Chris M. -   We don't know.  There we are, that's easy.  Gosh!  No idea at all.

Chris -   That's unusual, isnt it?

Chris M. -   Yeah, but sex keeps rearing its head in the story somewhere.


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The incidence of lefthandedness is interesting as it seems to have increased over the last 50 years, and is distributed unequally among professions and income levels.

My hypothesis is that about 50% of the population has a trivial genetic defect that prevents us from being lefthanded, and the rest are born ambidextrous. So in order to accommodate the largest number of people, we construct a righthanded society but (in some cases) tolerate lefthandedness. Thus according to Bayesian statistics, in the most tolerant societies you would expect to find 25% lefties, i.e. people who were actually born ambi and chose the left.

There are some advantages: it's easier to copy the actions of a person facing you, and you can be in great demand in sports, but you have to be prepared to be seen as a bit nonconformist. These consequences are slightly more likely to appeal to boys, who, whether by nature or nurture, seem to spend more time fighting than girls!

One measurable result is that lefthanded CEOs earns significantly more than righthanded ones. Why? Because getting to the top in business demands personal competitiveness and a willingness to change and challenge the established norm - or at least to see it from a different perspective. alancalverd, Sun, 25th May 2014

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