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How neuroscience is exploding the myth of male and female brains


MEN are good at map-reading; women can’t park cars. Men are better at fixing stuff – but only one thing at a time. Women, in contrast, can multitask, and do empathy and intuition better, too. Just don’t ask them to think logically in a crisis.


So say the stereotypes, anyway. It is a widespread idea that men and women are distinguished not only by their genitals and related sexual characteristics, but also by their brains. Take the notorious Google internal memo from 2017, in which now ex-employee James Damore asserted that there were more men in the company’s workforce because women’s high level of empathy and lower interest in coding made them less suited to Google-type work.


According to this way of thinking, the biological blueprint that determines fixed and inevitable differences in our reproductive apparatus also determines similarly fixed and inevitable differences in the structure of our brains and how they work. If you want to know what underpins differences between women and men in ability, behaviour, temperament and even lifestyle choices, you will find the answers in genes, genitals and gonads.


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