The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon review – exposing a myth

By: Katy Guest | The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon review – exposing a myth | Neuroscience | The Guardian

Lego or dolls, sport or chatting … are male and female brains different? Not unless we make them so

You might recognise Gina Rippon as the expert from BBC2’s No More Boys and Girls a series which showed that, by the age of seven, girls hugely underestimate their own abilities, boys often don’t have the words to describe their feelings and that these trends can be reversed by removing the gender cues that surround children. For Rippon, gender stereotypes are neither innate nor inevitable, and reports of biological sex differences in the brain are not to be relied on. As a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, she is qualified to explain why.

In the 1890s, the French psychologist Gustave Le Bon pronounced women “closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilised man”. As Rippon points out, Le Bon’s focus was on demonstrating the inferiority of non-European races – a pursuit that has been discredited. But the notion of a divergence in the nature of the brain between sexes – something, according to Le Bon, “so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment” – is repeated to this day.

It should be essential reading before anyone is allowed to become a teacher or buy a child a gift or comment on Twitter

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