A debate from IAI about male and female minds. It is pretty much agreed between the speakers that men’s brains and women’s brains are not really different; the claimed physical differences all come down to size, women being smaller on average. Behavioural and psychological differences exist, but only statistically; if you plot individuals along a line, there is far more overlap than difference. All of that is ably set out by Gina Rippon. Simon Baron-Cohen agrees but wants to reserve some space for the influence of biology, which affects such matters as the incidence of autism. Helena Cronin puts it all down to evolution; you’ve got two strategies, competing for mates or nurturing your offspring; males tend to the first, women to the second, and many evolved differences flow from that, although human sexes are less distinct than those in some mammal species.
Perhaps the crux of the debate comes when Cronin denies the existence of the ‘glass ceiling’; fewer women get to the board room, she says, because fewer women choose that path. Rippon responds that there is still evidence that applicants with male names are treated more favourably.
At any rate, it seems that if we thought men had a thicker corpus callosum, or differed in brain structure in other ways, we were just wrong.
If you’re thirsting for more controversy on gender, you might want to look at Phillipe Van Parijs’ paper
on several apparent disadvantages to being male (via Crooked Timber