Numerous research show that the brains of men and women differ in terms of their structure and functioning. Apart from a biological sex each of us has a psychological sex which influences the way we behave and determines our natural abilities.
Of great popularity are jokes relying on differences between the ways of thinking of men and women. Stereotypically, boys have difficulties in distinguishing between hundreds of shades of pink and women cannot drive. Very easily we may point out men who know how salmon pink looks like and women who are successful in racing tracts. The reason underlying this fact is that in the case of the psychological sex there is no clear-cut division into men and women. In each of us there is a little bit of each sex.
The phenomena related to the sex of our brains are very closely examined by a relatively new branch of knowledge called Gender Studies. Apart from neurological differences in the structure of the brain, the culture in which we live in, the way we were brought up, society and rules governing it rules all influence us. All these variables are responsible for the fact that there doesn’t exists a rigid division of the psychological sex into female and male. Besides, between these two extremities there exists a kind of continuum within the limits of which both ways of thinking may mingle in any proportions.
That fact that a man’s brain is about 10% bigger than a woman’s brain has been proven a long time ago. This however does not mean that additional brain capacity makes men smarter. Moreover, the basic and most important difference between sexes is the level of development of connections between psychological centers in the brain.
In men, the division of functions between the two hemispheres is very clear. The left hemisphere controls speech, whereas the right hemisphere governs spatial orientation and emotions. In women, the specialization of hemispheres is not that well defined – the centers monitoring speech and processing verbal information are placed within the two hemispheres. Moreover, the tough body connecting both hemispheres is thicker in women which allows a faster and more complete exchange of information between the hemispheres.
Biological differences in the structure of the brain in men and women influence their mental abilities. Women are more skillful linguistically, they are ahead of men in terms of their ability to process verbal and nonverbal information, perceiving and memorizing details, and sensitivity to sounds. Men are sensitive to images and their ability of abstract thinking and solving problems is more developed. Moreover, men and women differ in their approach to emotions. Because emotions and language are arranged in two different hemispheres and the tough body connecting it is poorly developed, experiencing emotions is clearly separated from expressing them.
The abovementioned biological differences in the functioning of the brain between women and men have been noticed a long time ago and have contributed to the development of stereotypes. In particular, in the euro-american Christian culture women are seen as weaker, more emotional and submissive. In contrast, men are strong, active, wise and domineering. These convictions are to a great degree subconscious and influence the way of thinking and the way next generations are brought up.
An analysis of conversations held between mothers and daughters and mothers and sons has shown major differences in the ways of communicating. Mothers talk to daughters more often, ask them more questions and their statements are longer. On the other hand, mothers address their sons with more commands and requests. In effect, two differing styles of communication are shaped. The female way of communication is more subtle and careful, and a conversation constitutes an indication of being in familiar terms. On the contrary, the manner in which males communicate is more aggressive, oriented towards solving problems, and serves to show off one’s power and authority.
Taken together, biological, cultural and social conditionings influence behavior, the way of thinking and the manner in which people communicate. In each of us aspects of male and female style mix in different proportions. If it weren’t so, communication between people would be hampered and ineffective.