Is Science of Brain Sex Difference – Flawed?

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Cordelia Fine - Delusions of Gender book

Ideas about the biological basis for differences between men and women circulate persistently, and often come to rest on the notion that male and female brains are just different. Well, not to blow any tiny female minds, but there may be nothing to that.” – Elanor McInerney

Elanor McInerney interviews Cordelia Fine, author of, “Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference;” and research associate at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University.

New science blasts through the separation of the sexes and the ideas that brains follow gender in Cordelia Fine’s new book, “Delusions of Gender.” As educational and scientific findings have found, girls supposedly do not have an aptitude for math — boys do. Boys, on the other hand, don’t have the aptitude for language skills like their other gendered friends.

Unfortunately for these theories, new discoveries are catching flaws in the ideas that the brain has a gender.


WINGS – Women’s International News Gathering Service

Host/Producer: Elanor McInerney

Featured Guest: Cordelia Fine

Date: 27 December, 2010

Length: 28:50 min



Why did you write this book?

It began when I read a parenting book that claimed that hard-wired sex differences meant that girls and boys should be parented and taught differently. When I looked at the actual studies being used as evidence, I was really shocked by how badly the neuroscientific findings were being misrepresented. I saw the same thing going on in other popular books about gender, and when I looked, I was surprised to discover how little convincing evidence there was that, for example, the male brain is hard-wired to be good at understanding the world and the female brain is hard-wired to understand people.

Why are people so intent on misrepresenting the differences between the male and female brain?

We look around in our society, and we want to explain whatever state of sex inequality we have. It’s more comfortable to attribute it to some internal difference between men and women than the idea that there must be something very unjust about our society that women’s skulls are the wrong shape, that their brain is too small, that their head is too unspecialized. It was once very cutting-edge to put a brain on a scale, and now we have cutting-edge research that is genuinely sophisticated and exciting, but we’re still very much at the beginning of our journey of understanding of how our brain creates the mind. . .

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