Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Maybe he was right?
You may remember a few weeks back when a certain president of a small, insignificant Ivy League school outside of Boston suggested—as one of many possible explanations—that women might be less inclined to scientific fields because of innate differences. Well, today CNN.com is reporting on the work of scientist Michael Gurian:

He believes there are about a hundred structural differences that have been identified between the male and female brain.

"Men, because we tend to compartmentalize our communication into a smaller part of the brain, we tend to be better at getting right to the issue," he said [...]

Scientists say males have more activity in mechanical centers of the brain, whereas females show more activity in verbal and emotional centers.

The differences can be noticed from early childhood, Gurian said, such as when an adult gives a child a doll.

"That doll becomes life-like to that girl, but you give it to a two-year-old boy and you are more likely, not all the time, but you are more likely than not to see that boy try to take the head off the doll," he said.

"He thinks spatial-mechanical. He's using the doll as an object".
As Summers has said repeatedly, this is not to say that women cannot succeed in the sciences. The point is that there is a reason more do not, or choose not to, and physiological differences could play some role in that.

Oh, and for those of you getting ready to claim that the boy pulls the head off the doll because he has already been exposed to societal pressures that inspire such behavior, keep reading:
To find out why these differences exist, scientists have taken voyages deep inside the gray matter using MRI scans.

The scans show that in most women, the corpus callosum area, which handles communication between the brain's two "hemispheres," is larger.

In layman's terms, it means that the two sides of the female brain "talk" better to each other -- which could explain why studies show women tend to multi-task better.

On the other hand, the scans show men tend to move information more easily within each hemisphere.

It all boils down to genes, according to Dr. Marianne Legato Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine Columbia University.

Women are born with two X chromosomes, and men with an X and a Y.

"And on that Y chromosome are at least 21 unique genes unique to males which control many of the body's operations down to the level of the cells," Dr Legato said.
The article goes on to point out that this leads to a man's ability to create one more stomach enzyme than women. In fact, it aids in degrading alcohol and helps explain why it takes more to get a man drunk.

Try chalking that one up to society.

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