Evolution, Gender and the Brain

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21591157-new-technique-has-drawn-wiring-diagrams-brains-two-sexes

How evolution has affected the development of the Human brain is not a very well understood phenomenon, we don’t know what factors led to humans needing such remarkably high intellect, nor how the human brain works beyond the general functions of its major regions.  And that creates other problems, if we cannot understand how the brain works how can we determine how people think? Or, in relation to this article, how the different sexes think.

Its become a cultural joke at this point to discuss the different genders’ psychologies:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Jupiter; Women are overemotional, Men are simple minded, you all are more than aware of what I’m referring to.  So the question is, how are we different? Is it a social construct or a biological fact? Well, according to this article, its a biological fact.

What specifically drew me to this article was simply the fact that it effectively completely refutes the notion of socially constructed gender roles.  It uses evidence of biology to describe how the brains of both sexes differ, and presents a thesis on why said differences exist based on the notions of traditional gender roles.  In short it says that are brains’ very thought processes are wired to gear us towards what we would consider traditional gender norms, and that we are specially suited for said norms neurologically.

This lends itself to interesting discussion.  For the past several decades Western Society has been trying to break traditional gender roles to create greater equality, but how can you do that when the very foundation of who we are (our minds) have wired us to follow said roles? So what is the solution?

Should we intentionally do whatever we can to go against gender roles? Can we even do that, considering that they are prewired into our very brains? Would we therefore be better off accepting this specialisation, where following said roles leads us to being more productive.  But do we even have the luxury of following them?  In the 1950s and 40s the US economy was dynamic enough for a single working family member to fully support a family of over four or five kids, but today the nuclear family more often than not depends upon multiple sources of income just to maintain middle class status.  So instead of having such a restrictive 1950s view of the nuclear family, should labor options instead be segregated? With jobs requiring greater human interactions going to Women and those requiring greater singleminded focus going to Men?  Are we already moving in that direction just based on how people pick their occupation?  Is it bad for us to think of Gender in these terms?  Is it stupid not to, seeing as its worked into our very neurology? What does the way our brain works say about our role in society?

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One Response to Evolution, Gender and the Brain

  1. freddie1994 says:

    In relation to thomgc’s last questions relating to future of gender in the workplace, the different brains may be wired in particular ways, but just because female brains are wired so that they are on average better at human interactions, it doesn’t mean that a woman is always going to be the best applicant for a specific job. The same applies to men and singleminded jobs. That being said it would surprise me if in the future if there are more studies to back up the article, that companies start hiring based on what gender is on average better at a particular job, or at least your gender might give you a slight advantage in the application process. To me this would be treading a fine line with sexism, I don’t mind people having a slight advantage based on gender, as long as gender isn’t the main reason someone is given or not given a job.

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