Thinking vs. experiencing
Researchers have shown changes in brain activity in response to a short-term intervention in which girls played Tetris regularly — their visual-spatial brain areas seemed to enlarge. The book is, at the core, concerned with the question of whether male and female brains are different.
Rippon, a British professor of cognitive neuroimaging, reviews the history of studies of the gendered brain. The most persistent feature of these studies is the focus on size. Men have bigger brains on average, going along with their generally larger bodies, a fact that has come up again and again as an argument for male superiority, or at least structural difference.
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Size has fallen out of fashion, but the desire to identify gender-specific parts of the brain has not. In her telling, girls and boys are treated differently from birth — even, possibly, from conception, as she relates the potential impact far-fetched though it seems to me of gender-reveal parties on fetal brain development.
16 Differences Between Men and Women in Infographics
And this differential treatment will lead their brains to develop differently. Given this argument, virtually any evidence we might have about differences between male and female brains is suspect.
This is a logical and well-taken point, but once made it is not obvious what else there is to say. The argument renders the question virtually unanswerable. In fact, the bulk of the book seems to have two aims. First, to document what evidence we do have about differences in the way male and female brains work; and, second, to discuss in detail the way boys and girls or men and women have different experiences, and how those may account for our seemingly different brains.
Not surprisingly, women were more likely than men to want to achieve gender equality in everything from politics and business to science and technology in the next 25 years, according to the survey.
Gender Differences: 6 Fascinating Differences Between Men and Women
Looking after children and the home was the lowest ranked area where people globally felt progress has been made in achieving gender equality in the last 25 years. Gwiasda also points out that people tend to attribute situational factors to explain their own behaviour, while linking the behaviour of others to personality traits. Men may unintentionally be doing this when it comes to gender equality.
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I woke one morning in to see an especially bad extrapolation of this study on the Early Show , a programme on US television network CBS. The history of sex-difference research is rife with innumeracy, misinterpretation, publication bias, weak statistical power, inadequate controls and worse.
Talking about inequalities in the shadow of the feminist movement
Rippon, a leading voice against the bad neuroscience of sex differences, uncovers so many examples in this ambitious book that she uses a whack-a-mole metaphor to evoke the eternal cycle. And it has exploded in the past three decades, since MRI research joined the fray. Yet, as The Gendered Brain reveals, conclusive findings about sex-linked brain differences have failed to materialize.
Shaywitz et al. Nature , — and I.
11 Main Differences Between Men and Women
Sommer et al. Brain Res. Brain size increases with body size, and certain features, such as the ratio of grey to white matter or the cross-sectional area of a nerve tract called the corpus callosum, scale slightly non-linearly with brain size. But these are differences in degree, not kind. As Rippon notes, they are not seen when we compare small-headed men to large-headed women, and have no relationship to differences in hobbies or take-home pay. Sadly, the moles keep surfacing. Ingalhalikar et al.