In the debate on gender and the brain, sorting evidence from errors

By | 2019-09-21 | including 1 item |
A friend of mine rants about the ocean of glittery pink playthings her daughter receives as gifts. She loathes the aggressive color coding in store aisles. More than three decades after astronaut Sally Ride became the first woman in space, can it be that our culture still wants little girls to stay in their lane? “Pinkification” is but one of the intrigues that British neuroscientist Gina Rippon examines in “Gender and Our Brains.” Dense with research and point of view, the book argues that science has for too long followed erroneous logic to support the notion that men and women have different brains. At best, these errors prove unhelpful; at worst, they do harm. Science might help us understand why little girls seem drawn to princesses and little boys to trucks, Rippon argues, but first we have to ask the right questions. For centuries, the scientifically curious have been assuming facts not in evidence, and a whole lot followed from that. In droll (if demoralizing) prose, Rippon offers a highlight reel of historic observations regarding the supposed inferiority of the female intellect. One of her favorites comes from the French scientist Gustave Le Bon, who in 1879 published his opinion that the occasional presence of intellectually superior women was so rare as to be like a “two-headed gorilla.”