Roundup: Autism in girls, "manny" mania and more

Plus: Sports apparel company capitalizes on realization that girls sweat, too.

Published August 7, 2007 12:15AM (EDT)

"Manny 911." If you haven't already heard, there's a crazy trend sweeping the nation: Men taking care of babies. Apparently, for many, it's unsatisfying to conclude that these "mannies" plain enjoy childcare -- some have taken to calling them "boy toys" or "affair magnets." Or, as one "manny" told the San Francisco Chronicle: "I'm apparently the hot new accessory." (Next to multiple children, of course.)

Autism, not just a boys' affliction. That's part of what is to be taken away from the New York Times article on girls' particular experience of the disease. Because autism is much more common in boys (they are three to four times more likely to have "classic autism" and 10 times more likely to have "high-functioning autism") autistic girls have become "research orphans" -- there are just too few of them to easily conduct comprehensive studies.

But, Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University (and, by the way, cousin to Borat himself, Sasha Baron Cohen), has dubbed autism a case of an "extreme male brain" or, in other words, a systematic, empathy-deficient brain. He says that girls with high-functioning autism like Asperger's "often feel more compatibility with typical males simply because typical males may be more willing to adhere to the linear, step-by-step form of thinking and conversation -- more like debating or playing chess or doing logic."

Japan's glass ceiling. Apparently Japanese women have flooded the workforce, thanks in part to the 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Law, but they still face challenges reaching "the preserve of gray-suited salarymen." Yukako Kurose, 45, joined the corporate workforce a year after the law was passed, but after having a child, she was relegated to clerical work. She told the Times: "Japanese work customs make it almost impossible for women to have both a family and a career."

Girls, like boys, sweat. It has taken sports apparel companies a while to catch on, but Under Armour is now heavily marketing its "signature high-tech fabrics, designed to help regulate body temperature and dryness" for girls and women. Hopefully this go-round at targeting women will be stronger that the company's first attempt, which followed the tactic of "pink it and shrink it."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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