For years people did believe that it was important to mark the differences between boys’ and girls’ because they would have different brains, and therefore the two should be taught differently, and possibly separately.
Developing back to such a trend may be dangerous, enabling again creating a trend, which can have damaging consequences – not only in classrooms, but at home and work.
Such claims may often be made on the basis of isolated brain imaging studies that have not been replicated, and in some cases have found to be wrong.
Studies have shown that the differences between the sexes are either non-existent or they are so small so as to be of no practical importance in, for example, an educational setting.
Dr Cordelia Fine presented also such an argument in 2013 at the Australian Council for Educational Research Conference in Melbourne on the brain and learning, where she said that males, for example, are often described as having a “spotlight brain” that processes information such as language in one hemisphere, while girls are supposed to have a “floodlight brain”, using both sides of the brain.
Fine says everyone is a mix of masculine and feminine qualities and there’s no fixed way in which the qualities line up.
“So being good at maths doesn’t make it more likely that you’ll be more aggressive, for example,” she says.
“That’s not to say that biological sex doesn’t make a difference in terms of the brain, brain development, or brain responsiveness, but it does undermine the idea of the male brain and the female brain.”
As part of this idea of a more interconnected female brain, females are supposed to have a larger corpus callosum, the thick band of neurones that connect the two hemispheres.
She says while older smaller studies support these differences, the bulk of more recent data has found otherwise.
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- What’s stopping the spread of gender-neutral restrooms? (mydoorsign.com)
Last year, Philadelphia introduced a pro-LGBT bill that was touted as “the next iteration of civil rights and freedom in the United States.” The bill aims to provide equal rights to the trans community and Mayor Michael Nutter hopes that with this new law, Philadelphia might become “the most LGBT-friendly” city in the world. As part of the new legislation, new or renovated city-owned buildings are required to include gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men and women’s restrooms.
In a positive response to transgender students’ complaints of harassment or discrimination, more than 150 colleges and universities have created gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
Whether to construct each restroom separately on the basis of socially accepted genders, or to create one restroom that is open for all, is still under debate. Some universities have taken the middle ground, and have built another gender-neutral restroom apart from the already existing gender-segregated ones.
- Sexing the Brain Part 2: Function, Anatomy, and Structure (psychologytoday.com)
My previous post, “Sexing the Brain (Early Days)” considered the early approach to consider sex differences in terms of perceptual asymmetries. That post ended on McGlone’s (1980) conclusion that men were more lateralized than women, supporting Levy’s (1971) hypothesis. This conclusion was as definite as it could get in 1980. However, McGlone could not quantify the sex differences.
From this perspective, my contribution to this debate came in the form of a meta-analysis that quantified the magnitude of sex differences in perceptual asymmetries. In my 1996 meta-analysis (Voyer, 1996), I considered measures of perceptual asymmetries in the visual, auditory, and tactile modalities and provided some support for Levy’s hypothesis.
- Langton and Dupre try to unconfuse journalists about minds, brains, and gender (leiterreports.typepad.com)
if the mind is the brain, any mental difference will be a brain difference. Suppose there are some actual mental differences between men and women, whatever their prior causes. (Hard to imagine training up half of humanity one way, half another, without creating some differences between them.) There will then be some neural differences. Suppose you have two televisions, whose images are different. You call in the technician, who trumpets the discovery that they differ in their pattern of pixels.
- Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference (sciencebookaday.wordpress.com)
- Getting in a Tangle Over Men’s and Women’s Brain Wiring (wired.com)
You may have heard there’s a new study that claims to have found that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Published in the respected journal PNAS, the researchers based at the University of Pennsylvania used a technique known as diffusion tensor imaging to plot the brain wiring maps of 949 people aged 8 to 22. Ragini Verma and her colleagues said their results showed “fundamentally different connectivity patterns in males and females.”
Specifically, they reported that men’s brains had more connectivity within each brain hemisphere, whereas women’s brains had more connectivity across the two hemispheres. Moreover, they stated or implied, in their paper and in statements to the press, that these findings help explain behavioral differences between the sexes, such as that women are intuitive thinkers and good at multi-tasking whereas men are good at sports and map-reading.
- Brain Mapping Gender Identity: What Makes A Boy A Girl? (kiramoorescloset.wordpress.com)
An article written by Susan Scutti and posted at the Medical Daily reports on a study published last year which explores the extent to which brain anatomy is associated with gender identity.
The degree to which one identifies as male or female has a profound impact on one’s life. Yet, there is a limited understanding of what contributes to this important characteristic termed gender identity. In order to reveal factors influencing gender identity, studies have focused on people who report strong feelings of being the opposite sex, such as male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals.
- So my mushy head is ‘hardwired’ for girly things, is it? If this is science, I am Richard Dawkins | Suzanne Moore (theguardian.com)
If you cut my head in half, out would spill sugar and spice and all things nice, obviously. The part of the brain that does parking would be small, but the part that organises cupcakes and friendship would fizz like sparkling rose. Because I am a girl whose mushy head is “hardwired” for girly things.
As ever, when I see the latest stuff on gender differences in the brain, I feel that I am barely female. Some parts of my brain have gone rogue. But before anyone gets out a soldering iron to rewire me, let’s um … think about it.
- Gender gap a scientific myth, says psychology expert (guardian.co.uk)
“Avid readers of popular science books and articles about gender may well have formed the impression that science has shown that the path to a male or a female brain is set in utero, and that these differently structured brains create essentially different minds,” says Fine, whose book is published in the UK this week.
“These cultural lores, which in popular hands can become nothing short of monstrous fiction, are standing in the way of greater sex equality – just as measures of skull volume, brain weight and neuron delicacy did in the past”.
- Gender and Sexual Diversity (dissidentvoice.org)
The recent article by Robert Jensen, “Some Basic Propositions about Sex, Gender, and Patriarchy,” espouses concepts that both reflect and perpetuate cissexism and transphobia. Jensen correctly anticipates that readers will recognize much of his article as unabashedly transphobic. He reacts by preemptively dismissing any such observations as mere “tactics.” In the third to last paragraph he writes, “Labeling a radical feminist position on these public policy issues as inherently “transphobic” or describing radical feminist arguments on the issues as “hate speech” are diversionary tactics that undermine productive intellectual and political discussion. A critique of an idea is not a personal attack on any individual who holds the idea.”
- From the comments, more on LBGT as deserving of respect (marginalrevolution.com)
If it turns out you are born “different” in these ways (I’m not even sure what are the right words to use to cover all the relevant cases), what is the chance that your social structure will be supportive? Or will you feel tortured, mocked, and out of place? Might you even face forced institutionalization, as McCloskey was threatened with? Most likely things will not go so well for you, even in an America of 2014 which is far more tolerant overall than in times past, including on gay issues. Current attitudes toward transsexuals and other related groups remain a great shame. A simple question is how many teenagers have been miserable or even committed suicide or have had parts of their lives ruined because they were born different in these ways and did not find the right support structures early on or perhaps ever. And if you are mocking individuals for their differences in this regard, as some of you did in the comments thread, I will agree with Barkley Rosser’s response: “Some of you people really need to rethink who you are. Seriously.”
We could have a look at those people around the world and see how much their ideas about happiness co-inside. We could use a scale from 1 to 10 to let them allow to give a rate for them feeling sad, happy, or somewhere in-between in their lives. Such scores could allow us to evaluate whether members were less or more happy as changes took place in their environment or surroundings.
An other way, certainly for places where people are not so literate or can not write, is to let them draw three faces – sad face, moderate face, and happy face. When present at the evaluation and the person is not…
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