Researchers are still asking questions that appear to be inspired by old-fashioned male-female stereotypes (as portrayed in Mad Men).
Some days the opposite sex seems so different, you can almost believe that they come from another planet. Indeed, the theory that we are all hard-wired by our gender has proved so popular that a book on the subject, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, became an international best-seller.
Now a leading neuroscientist says women’s brain power is no different to men’s after all – and we are actually incredibly similar when it comes to intellect.
Professor Gina Rippon says the idea that our brains are controlled by our gender is outdated and wrong.
And she has even accused researchers of producing findings that can be used to support the old prejudice that women are not men’s intellectual equals.
‘There is increasing concern within the neuroscience community about the misinterpretation and abuse of our findings on the links between brain structure and behaviour,’ she said.
‘This “neurohype” is designed to support stereotypes and to suggest that there is a major biological and structural difference in the brains of men and women that explains their social roles and status.
‘This is nonsense. There may be some very small differences between the genders but the similarities are far, far greater.’
Professor Rippon’s comments follow a spate of books promoting the idea that there are structural differences between men’s and women’s brains.
However, the professor from Aston University in Birmingham, argues that although today’s researchers can observe the minute workings of the brain, they are still asking questions that appear to be inspired by old-fashioned male-female stereotypes.
Take a look at the characters in programmes such as Mad Men, the TV series about a 1960s advertising agency, and you’ll get the idea.
‘Throughout history, biological explanations have been used as weapons to explain and maintain social differences,’ she added.
‘In Victorian times, scientists suggested women thought with a different part of their brain from men.
‘In the 1950s they came up with the idea that women’s “inferior” thinking was controlled by their hormones.
‘Now the idea is that men and women have different brain structures –but there is no real evidence for any of it.’
And she’s not the only one to think that.
A new book also suggests it’s wrong to suggest we are hard-wired at birth.
According to Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine, the difference between the genders is down to the way we are brought up.
There are no major neurological differences, the Melbourne University psychologist said.
Via Daily Mail