Men and women are different, but not because of what's inside our brains. A new study explains why.

Have you ever heard that women are "hardwired" to have better memories? Or that men are "naturally" better at navigating?

Men: born explorers? Photo via iStock.


Sure, they're just stereotypes, but they're coming from somewhere. And for a long time we've been led to believe that men's and women's brains are fundamentally different, so why couldn't blanket statements like these hold some truth?

Neuroscientist Gina Rippon, a professor at Aston University and noted speaker on the subject of sex differences, offered a different idea in 2014. She believes these patterns are acquired through environmental factors — a woman could become great at multitasking because society expects her to be better at it, for example — not because of any innate wiring in her brain.

Now, a new study says she might be right.

A team led by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel recently concluded that there is no consistent difference between male and female brains.

Photo by Daniel Oberti/Flickr.

The team, led by behavioral neuroscientist Daphna Joel, analyzed the MRI scans of 1,400 individuals, mapping things like gray matter (gooey stuff that handles sensation, emotion ... pretty much everything), white matter (the gooey stuff that carries messages between areas of gray matter), and a host of personality traits along the way.

What did they find? That it's pretty dang rare for a given brain to demonstrate only male or female characteristics.

So next time someone says to you, "Women's brains do this" or "Men's brains behave like this," feel free to call B.S.

The plain truth is that our brains flat out can't be separated into two distinct gender categories.

Our brains, the researchers say, are more like "mosaics" — wonderful mixtures of the traits we usually associate with men or women.

That's not to say the study found no differences between the brains of men and women, but rather that a brain consisting of almost all male or female features was pretty uncommon, and that it'd be really tough to tell if a person were biologically male or female just by looking at their brain.

It's a great reminder that gendering activities and behaviors is a bunch of bunk. Video games aren't just for boys. Shopping isn't just for girls.

If you're not looking at an individual person holistically for the things that make them them, you're doing it wrong.

Better yet, The Washington Post writes that these findings are "a step towards validating the experiences of those who live outside the gender binary."

Photo by m01229/Flickr.

It's just more evidence to support the idea that the biological "parts" you're born with don't really tell us much about who you are.

Turns out that what's inside is much more fluid and malleable than we ever imagined.

Heroes
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture