Male vs Female: a mistaken notion

A new study confirms: male and female brains are remarkably similar. The idea of gender similarity isn’t new. A pioneering paper by Janet Shibley Hyde (U of Wisconsin-Madison) came out ten years ago and has been supported by subsequent and previous research. In this paper, she finds a few gender differences such as  muscle mass and in some tasks such as throwing (men excel) and sexuality (men masterbate more for example, or at least, they did in 2005). She also mentions that cancer may behave differently in males and females.

However, men are not better at math or abstract reasoning, women are not more caring or moral. Adolescent boys are just as vulnerable to self-esteem issues as are adolescent girls.Girls are not more social. Boys are not better at higher order thinking. Both men and women act heroically. Men are slightly more aggressive but not by much. As these studies point out, the idea that men are from Mars and women from Venus is not based on biology. In fact, that idea is hugely harmful. It can lead to low expectations for communication between men and women. It can cause young women to forsake math and science.  I was urged to do this by the high school counciler since supposedly women did not have the brains for it. The idea that just girls have self-esteem problems leaves vulnerable boys overlooked.

Harping on gender differences goes back to  1879, around the time people also thought that there were racial differences that mattered.  As early as 1918, this notion was being questioned. Scientists couldn’t find the cognitive differences. This didn’t stop the book Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus from selling over three million copies. The author of that book even maintains a relationship advice site and sells nutrition products from it. I was given a copy of it by a boss.I’m not sure why. Bottom line: it’s crap. Feel free to defy expectations.

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