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Gender differences – outdated or cutting edge?

Gender Differences

There was an article in the headlines this week which brought to light all the usual arguments and debates about gender differences within the brain. Did you see it? If not, here it is…


You see, the Science Museum in London has apparently brought out an exhibit which allows you to ‘test’ whether you have a male brain or a female brain. Oh dear…

The test used a number of simplified questions to let the computer determine whether the person responding was the owner of a male brain, or a female one. And there lies the problem.

When I do my keynote speeches about gender differences, I always do so with the associated caveats and health warnings. You see, it is not the case that every single female will be in possession of a female brain. Nor is it the case that every single male will be in possession of a male brain. Nor indeed must every single brain fall within the two categories. It is much more like a spectrum than distinct boxes which are mutually exclusive and separate.

However, what I will say in defence of the Science Museum, is that people are different. Genders are different. Much as we may not like to think of ourselves this way, we are indeed very old technology. As human beings we evolve very slowly, so essentially our bodies are not designed for the lives we live today. In essence, we are still running on Caveman Software…

So, people who accuse the Science Museum (and myself) of being outdated, are really partially right. We use the latest, cutting edge technology and research findings, and yet end up talking about people in a clichéd and sometimes patronising manner. That is because we are frequently referring to people at a physiological level rather than an emotional or psychological one. Physiologically we have not changed much over the centuries. Physiologically, we don’t differ much across societies, continents or cultures.

Physiologically, men and women are different. And that is not just restricted to how we look on the outside, we have evolved to be different on the inside too. The reasons for these differences may not sit comfortably within in our modern society of today, but that does not mean we can simply ignore them. Or deny them.

It may well be time for an upgrade, but until we find out how to do that, we are all running on Caveman Software. So, let’s get over that fact, and just get as much functionality from ourselves as we are able to!