Scientists at at the University of Pennsylvania have once again confirmed what we have always known intuitively. Men's and women's brains are wired differently.
Maps of neural circuitry from one of the largest studies of brain wiring showed that connections in women's brains tended to be stronger across the left and right hemispheres, whereas in
men's brains they were stronger across
the front and back. Researchers said this indicated that, on average, men's brains were wired
more for perception and co-ordinated actions, and women's for social
skills and memory.
If women do indeed have superior social skills, shouldn't they be in charge? After all, in a world threatened by nuclear weapons, growing disparity between rich and poor, and environmental collapse, threats all created by male leadership, we have more need of social skills than ever before.
But before we hand over all power over our institutions to women, we might remind ourselves that the results of the study showed averages, not absolutes—the characteristics are not exclusive. They range across gender, some men being quite feminine, some women quite masculine. Margaret Thatcher, for example, was once described as the only man in her cabinet, an apt description for a leader so lacking in social skills. Many men, on the other hand, have excellent social skills and we need what they have to offer. We need the best of both genders. Ruben Gur, a co-author on the study, remarked, "It's quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men
The lesson here is not that we should give up on men, although it's tempting, but rather that we have underused both women and feminine skills. If we don't start giving both more of a lead role, global society may face a dismal future.