The Difference Between Male and Female Brains

Male and female brains.
Image Credit: Jolygon/iStock/GettyImages

In a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the largest functional brain imaging study to date, researchers looked into the differences of the brains of men and women. This feels particularly relevant this week as simultaneous news has emerged about a Google employee who was fired for writing an anti-diversity memo in which he argued that men and women's brain differences make men better suited for high-intensity jobs. As he put it, men have a "higher drive for status." The study seems to indicate something far different.

The results from the study show that women's brains are more active than men's brains, particularly in the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for impulse control and focus. Another area of the brain in which female brains seem to be more active is the limbic and emotional areas which involve mood and anxiety. With more activity in the prefrontal cortex, it makes sense that women "tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concerns." With more activity in the limbic areas, it explains why women are "more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders."

Men, for their part, "have higher rates of ADHD, conduct-related problems, and incarceration." Point being, nobody's brain is perfect.

While in this case, learning how blood flow effects the brain was largely done to research disease, the more we know about the brain, the more we know about individuals and how best they work.

While there definitely are differences between male and female brains, it is those differences that strengthen the environment — both generally and professionally. There is nothing about the scans that indicate men are better suited for high-intensity jobs. Manifestos written in praise of anti-diversity are not the answer; embracing the reality that male and female brains have different, equally important, strength is.