Ah the pendulum swings back in refuting the last 30 years of misogynistic backlash to trying to convince people that male brains and female brains are inherently different.
I have been down on the whole idea of gender and boy brain/girl brain for a long time because I see that argument as being one step from an argument that this the reason men are superior and should rule over women.
I view gender as a social construct that is for the most part learned rather than innate. There are certain innate elements but what really creates gender is a magnification of it. There is an interesting quote from Jan Morris:
Jan Morris, the historian, travel writer and male-to-female transsexual, saw this implicit stereotyping firsthand: “The more I was treated as a woman, the more woman I became. ”
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/science/24scibks.html?_r=1&ref=books
Peeling Away Theories on Gender and the Brain
By KATHERINE BOUTON
“Delusions of Gender” takes on that tricky question, Why exactly are men from Mars and women from Venus?, and eviscerates both the neuroscientists who claim to have found the answers and the popularizers who take their findings and run with them.
The author, Cordelia Fine, who has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from University College London, is an acerbic critic, mincing no words when it comes to those she disagrees with. But her sharp tongue is tempered with humor and linguistic playfulness, as the title itself suggests. Academics like Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr. Louann Brizendine will want to come to this volume well armed. So would Norman Geschwind if he were still alive. Popular authors like John Gray (“Men are from Mars”), Michael Gurian (“What Could He Be Thinking?”) and Dr. Leonard Sax (“Why Gender Matters”) may want to read something else.
Sometimes all it takes is their own words, as in this example from Dr. Brizendine’s 2007 book “The Female Brain”: “Maneuvering like an F-15, Sarah’s female brain is a high-performance emotion machine — geared to tracking, moment by moment, the nonverbal signals of the innermost feelings of others.” Is Sarah some kind of psychic? Dr. Fine clarifies: “She is simply a woman who enjoys the extraordinary gift of mind reading that, apparently, is bestowed on all owners of a female brain.”
Experts used to attribute gender inequality to the “delicacy of the brain fibers” in women ; then to the smaller dimensions of the female brain (the “missing five ounces,” the Victorians called it); then to the ratio of skull length to skull breadth. In 1915 the neurologist Dr. Charles L. Dana wrote in this newspaper that because a woman’s upper spinal cord is smaller than a man’s it affects women’s “efficiency” in the evaluation of “political initiative or of judicial authority in a community’s organization” — and thus compromises their ability to vote.
These days gender inequality is commonly explained by neurological differences, most popularly the notion that the surge of testosterone that occurs in the eighth week of fetal development affects the relative size of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and of the corpus callosum, the bundle of neurons that connects the two. In the 1980s Norman Geschwind proposed that the surge results in a smaller left hemisphere for males, leaving them with greater potential for right-hemisphere development, which, as he put it, results in “superior right-hemisphere talents, such as artistic, musical, or mathematical talent.” In female brains the hemispheres are more collaborative, explaining women’s superior verbalizing skills.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/science/24scibks.html?_r=1&ref=books