If you’re in your 30s or older, you’ve probably been told over and over and over how much different women are from men. This was largely perpetuated by the famous book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex.” The book was written by John Gray, ph.D. Yes, you read that right — a book about understanding the opposite sex was written by ONE person from ONE sex. (That last sentence literally blows my mind.) The book was originally published in 1992 and John continued with the planet analogies for years, writing at least nine more titles that shared similar names.
So is it true? Are women’s and men’s brains actually different?
The short answer is: no, not really.
The longer answer is, of course men and women have differences. But it’s often learned gender norms that create these differences– not science.
Research conducted by the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was one of the first to scientifically debunk these claims:
Their research … involved taking MRI scans of more than 1,400 brains, focusing on anatomy rather than how brains work.
They analysed brain features like tissue thickness or volume in different parts of the brain. They focused on traits that showed the biggest sex differences, dividing the scores into a predominantly male zone, a predominantly female zone, and an intermediate range.
Researchers found that it was rare for brains to fall into one of these three distinct categories– just six percent of brains they analysed could be placed in one particular group.
It was far more common for an individual brain to score in both the male and female zones.
The researchers also used a similar approach to analyse psychological and behavioural scores from two prior studies that covered more than 5,000 participants, and again they had similar results.
Overall, the results show “human brains do not belong to one of two distinct categories,” male and female, the researchers concluded.“Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus, new study suggests”
The point is, learned gender norms have been affecting us for years, whether you’ve been consciously aware of them or not.
At the end of the day, we’re all just humans. We each have a unique set of qualities and traits that make us into individuals. Some of those may be historically “female” traits, while others are historically “male” traits. But, for the most part, we’re the ones who put those labels there. If we can stop thinking about them as “hers vs. his,” we’ll all be better off.