Is Female Mind Really Different from Male’s?

Is female mind different?

I’m 27 now and a few days ago I finally found the time to work out into which washing machine slot I’m actually supposed to put washing powder.

No, I’m not a typical female – nor are around 50% of women, according to Cordelia Fine’s book Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences.

It’s stereotypical to assume that all women are emotional and nurturing and empathetic. The reason more women display such traits is because of society’s expectations of them. Societal standards put huge weight on how women are supposed to be like and most women naturally comply.

It’s a mode of survival, in a sense – both male and female brain can adapt to display the behavior it’s expected to.

Social situations or even wording can influence how males or females behave. If more feminine qualities are expected, a female will naturally display them whilst she might display totally different qualities if equality is emphasized. Even innocent-looking choices such as…

Tick the appropriate:

  • Male
  • Female

…might influence which sex we regard as more important.

Our brain is an intelligent piece of machinery that can quickly switch between sexes and it pretty much performs according to the expectations of others. Female maths scores will drop if male-dominated environment suggests that women won’t perform well. It’s a lot to do with suggestion, as well as pressure. Stress especially ruins the chances of equal performance for women, because then women focus their energies on avoiding failure rather than on performing well.

It’s tough for women to survive in male-dominated professions. It’s tough for them to achieve heights in fields like medicine because sometimes the attitude of the fellow males is screaming “You don’t belong here”.

Cordelia Fine, the author of Delusions of Gender, notes an interesting fact about females being less motivated to attend male-dominated conferences. Males also weren’t that motivated to attend male-dominated conferences probably for different reasons, as she guesses!

What makes it also difficult for women to fight stereotypes is the plenitude of ads showing highly emotional and, should I say, dumb-looking, women totally focused on eating chocolate or displaying similar behavior.

These seemingly innocent portrayals of the female sex paint a picture of a weaker, very emotional and unable to reason gender in everyone’s minds, which encourages occupational discrimination and overall different treatment. This, according to the author, also reduces females’ interest in leadership roles and they, as a result, choose careers “more suitable for females”.

Sometimes the way women’s interest is reduced in a certain career is very subtle. For example, even a word “geek” glued to the computer science calls out a mental picture of a male. That alone can discourage females to seek such occupations, even though in the past they were excellent at it, before the geek word gained popularity.

The author also goes into the family life to see gender differences there. She notes in the Gender Delusions: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences that although fathers are less involved in looking after children, it’s not really inherent in them. Fatherly treatment of children seems to again be caused by social expectations. She writes that if both parents spend an equal amount of time raising kids, fathers develop an equal caring for them.

I like the fact that Cordelia mentions that many research studies that were conducted that emphasize the difference in male and female brains are highly prejudiced and thus inaccurate. She notes that even prestigious institutions such as Harvard Medical School or Yale School made prejudiced conclusions, and these kinds of institutions are highly trusted by the population. Thus humanity easily accepts research done by such organisations and forms incorrect assumptions about gender differences.

Probably the most interesting part of the Delusions of Gender book was about social conditioning of children. Children that aren’t yet born can be exposed to expectations and affirmations about which sex they belong to. Gender-neutral parenting can’t really exist, because gender differences are too deeply rooted in all of us.

Just from the subtle influences like colors that they see around, children will develop in a certain way (pink for girls and blue for boys); the toys they’re given will determine their take on life; the way they’re addressed will cause them to feel more male or female; what’s expected of them will determine what they regard to be male duties and female ones.

If not parents, the world itself would and does show children’s place. For example, if a boy would start playing with dolls, soon he would be discouraged by his peers. In fact, as Cordelia Fine points out, it’s harder for boys to break into the female sphere than for girls into the male one. Women had less trouble adapting to male-dominated fields like medicine than men to female-dominating fields like beauty.

Going back to children, they’re little learning machines, as the author rightly notices. New-borns already show preferences for their mother tongue, probably from hearing it in the womb. They prefer female faces to male faces if more females care for them; they’re like sponges absorbing everything from the environment and quickly learning how to react to it all.

My opinion about the book

Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences certainly does what the title suggests – it presents numerous pieces of research to convince about the falsely assumed difference of male and female brains. It approaches the gender mind question from different angles, like childhood, family interactions, workplace issues and even how a child’s mind forms in the womb.

This book is very useful to read for females who feel inferior to males; with the amount of studies covered (the book is 244 pages’ long plus 94 pages of references) anyone will get convinced about the fact that there’s almost no difference between the male and female brain, and it’s the social expectations, incorrect research assumptions and conditioning to blame for our inequalities.

I must note that some parts of the book left me with a bitter feeling; the author feels strongly about female inequality and some quotes, like old opinions about the female role, left me feeling negative. In one place the author mentioned it wasn’t her goal to make one feel negative about the quotes, but that’s how I felt anyway. I think the book would sound even more convincing if some of the old quotations that arise anger would be left out.

The book is written in a rather dry way and most of it lists various studies done on brain. I would have loved to read more juicy stories, like how studies can be illustrated with real-life examples. That always makes people connect with the book more. It’s now a great reference book, and if that’s what was intended, then the book serves the purpose well.

All in all, this book is a perfect reference bible for females who feel inferior to males. Study by study it will convince the female mind that it’s not different, and that females can achieve exactly what males can. It’s a long read, and strongly based on research and studies, so if you’re looking for something light and easy to grasp, it’s probably not it. However, if you’re looking for a strongly referenced book about gender differences, it’s definitely it!

Finally, I would like to share some of the most memorable quotes from the book:

Male and female university students were equally interested in leading a group – except for women exposed to the gender-stereotyped commercials, who were more likely to choose a nonleadership role instead.

Cultural realities and beliefs about females and males – represented in existing inequalities; in commercials; in conversations; in the minds, expectations or behavior or others; or primed in our own minds by the environment – alter our self-perception, interests and behavior.

The obstacles of gender-neutral parenting begin well before the baby is born.

While in many ways parents seemed to treat boys and girls much the same, in one domain they clearly did not: parents encouraged gender-typed activities and play, and discouraged cross-gender behavior.

Take a look around. The gender inequality that you see is in your mind. So are cultural beliefs about gender that are so familiar to us all. They are in that messy tangle of mental associations that interact with the social context. Out of this interaction emerges your self-perception, your interests, your values, your behavior, even your abilities.

Meanwhile, neuroscience is used by some in a way that it has often been used in the past: to reinforce, with all the atuthority of science, old-fashioned stereotypes and roles.

If you would like to get the book Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences on Amazon, here’s a link to get it. If you have some comments to make, do so below!

Comments

  1. leonard says:

    We don’t have different minds, we have different physical attributes that contribute to the development of minds, things like hormones, that makes our minds differ for all our lives males and females focus on very different aspects of life. Nice article.

  2. I disagree! Today’s society has lost reality and appreciation between what a man and what a women is. To let females look better, the technique of humiliating men is used all over! In the media especially! That is not constructive at all and polarises the sexes more and more. If there were no difference between men and women, then God would’ve given Steve to Adam. Why create another grender? He gave Eve to Adam! I have numerous friends with boys and girls and All of them says there’s a clear difference between sexes from an age before a child can be influenced! I.e. In the purest form. In nature one sees gender differences clearly, and they have no equality drive mechanism! Today’s society is teaching, in an unnatural way, that boys and girls are the same and within each of us we no thats not true, and that doesn’t mean women are inferior! Instead of equality we should be teaching uniqueness! Admire sexes for what they are! A man respects a natural woman, not an artificial brainwashed feminist! Likewise women respects men who are strong, masculine and respectfull to women, not chauvinists! To be the provider of a family does not mean you are superior or likewise to be the carer does not mean you are the inferior, it means you are doing what you do best! There are things women are better in than men and visa versa but society is teaching us that the things women are best in is inferior, that’s the real problem, not inequality! Women are destroying the constructive roles that mothers and fathers have!

    • Yes, Joe, of course we can’t deny our differences, like seen in different body shapes!Biological differences are for the purpose of species survival. And yes, there are some differences in hormones that influence our emotional sides. I loved your take on this issue, I would just be careful not to confuse what women do best, because it’s easy to be influenced by the current conditioning.

  3. Rajesh Mali says:

    Simona I agree with the abstract you have put up above.But I think its the same case with male minds because mind is like a empty memory card what data you feed into it it behaves in that way.for example if you take example of not inform sports palyer he/she gets easily pressurised by criticism.

  4. Alexander says:

    The thing is that there are differences between a typical male and a typical female way of thinking in my view. But these differences evaporate in the process of spiritual development of both male and female. As soon as both male and female become self-sufficient and stop attempts to solve their inner conflicts through bonding with a representative of another sex they really become like-minded and ready to perceive each other as a person.

    • Completely agree with you, Alexander. Yes, the way of thinking is different and that’s because of social conditioning. And yes, when people feel fulfilled, they become similar in terms of wishing goodness to all and similar perspectives.

  5. Very interesting topic Simona, a clear understanding on how we have been program to believe that females are weak and soft, were as the male are super hero’s -can do everything and know everything – coming back to (Ego) such male’s do have a lot of ego’s – don’t like to lose – this is what happen to my uncle who controls every single in the house. For the past 25 years i kept quiet about his abuse and ego’s – two day’s ago i shuttered his ego’s into piece – telling him every truth behind what he done (damage). He feels that boys should working away for the kitchen and should not help the women’s in cooking or washing. This is what happen to me – he will say i am like a female sitting in a kitchen, i love cooking and helping my aunty with her kitchen work – he always say that my aunty raise me like a women – my believes grow stronger after reading your past post and with a divine intervention i could stand up and win the battle all together with my aunty. Today i am free as bird no longer in a cage Simona !!! Thank You for beaming the inner light.

    • I’m happy to hear this review helped, Logen! It’s wonderful that now you feel like a free bird – you really are, and I hope more people would understand this.

  6. chandrakant kulkarni says:

    Many years back, my sister had been to London with her husband.
    Well, both of them were waiting on the platform of a Railway Station. There were some cigarette vending machines on the platform: ‘put a coin in the slot-and get a cigarette’ type….
    Suddenly, a man using one of the machines started shouting: “Oh, help me please! ..my finger is crushed!”..
    That man was so eager for gettinga cigarette that he had inserted his hand into the vending opening of that machine- and got his finger trapped in it.
    Within a minute, there was a crowd around that helpless-shouting man!… Somebody rushed to the Station Master…another one ran to a phone for calling ambulance…some persons thought to call the vending machine owner immediately there…
    My sister saw that scene and just told her husband to put another coin in the slot of that vending machine. Her husband promptly did it. And within a second, the dispensing mechanism opened up for delivering another cigarette – and that man in trouble could pull out his crushed finger very easily!
    …That is the difference between male & female thinking, my loveliest Simona!

    • What a beautiful story, I was completely absorbed into it! She has a great sense of detachment and analytical thinking; a great sister to have, Chandrakant!

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