Neuroscientist Jake Young gets stuck into the recent debate on male-female mind and brain differences, inspired by a number of recent articles on the topic (see previously on Mind Hacks).
Jake does an excellent job of not only summarising what is known about gender differences, but looking at how large these differences are.
Sometimes in the scientific literature, any difference, no matter how small is seized upon as significant. Importantly, the extent of this difference is important for gauging what is the likely impact of the difference on the wider world.
In a subsequent article, he tackles whether there is a difference between men and women who perform particularly well.
For example, are the top 1% of women for a particular ability much different from the top 1% of men for the same ability?
Jake focuses particularly on mathematics, which has been a controversial area as it has been widely debated whether women are generally poorer at scientific-type subjects (largely started by the then president of Harvard claiming they weren’t!).
Rather than focusing on a single concept of ‘mathematical ability’, Jake focuses on what abilities maths actually needs, and breaks down the apparent and reported sex differences.