Gender Differences in the Genes?

So now we know why men and women perceive things so differently: it’s the way they’re wired. Today Weekend Edition had a brief interview this morning with Dr. Leonard Sax about his book Why Gender Matters. His thesis is that men and women aren’t different just because we give little girls Barbie dolls and give little boys G.I. Joe. They’re different because their brains work differently.

According to Sax, the differences between boys and girls (and by extension the differences between men and women) go far beyond “boys are competitive; girls are collaborative” and include the following:

  • The areas of girls’ brains that deal with language develop faster than the areas dealing with spatial relationships and geometry. For boys, it’s just the reverse. Ask a typical woman for directions, and she’ll orient you to landmarks, as in “Go to the Wal-Mart and turn left.” Ask a typical man, and he’ll use distances, as in “Go about 3 miles and turn left.” So when we try to teach girls and boys the same way, it’s natural for boys to believe they can’t read and for girls to think they’re lousy at math.
  • Girls process their feelings in the same area of the brain they use to process language. So it’s easy for girls to talk about their feelings. Boys process the two in separate areas of their brain and therefore find it much tougher to communicate about their feelings.
  • Girls hear seven times better than boys. Sax says this is probably why teenage girls often think their fathers are yelling at them when Dads think they’re talking normally.
  • Boys learn better when they’re under stress. Stress interferes with learning for girls. This is true in all mammals, not just humans.
  • So why am I posting this on a divorce blog, and what does it mean for marriage and divorce? I’m posting it because it helps me understand why men and women sometimes have so much trouble living together; they really are different. it’s a (more scientific) reiteration of the Mars/Venus thing.

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