Q: Girls Can’t Do Science Because? A: We Tell Them So

Posted on September 9th, 2014 by - 7 comments

Female scientist

Science is losing out on the input of women because of the mistaken belief that “men are from Mars and women from Venus”

Professor Gina Rippon is a leading neuroscientist based at Aston University and recently announced that it was time to debunk the myth that gender differences are hard-wired into our brains. Hear hear! Such a lot of tosh has been written about that topic. (see Men/Women, Nature/Nurture? Who Cares)

In reality, Says Prof Rippon, there is no significant difference between the brains of a girl and boy in terms of their structure and function. She comes down firmly on the nurture side of the debate. Experiences and even attitudes can change the “plastic” brain on a physical level, causing its wiring to alter.

It’s this that leads girls and boys from an early age to head in different directions. Girls tend to tend to gravitate towards fields of communication, people skills and the arts, boys are more likely to become scientists and engineers. Even when we women venture into science, it seems we tend to choose careers at the “softer” end of the subject, such as biology, psychology and sociology, rather than physics and maths.

Prof Rippon said:

“We’re stuck in the 19th century model of the ‘vacuum packed’ brain, the idea that we’re born with a brain that gives us certain skills and behaviours. The brain doesn’t develop in a vacuum. (My bold.) What we now know is that the brain is much more affected by stereotypes in the environment and attitudes in the environment, and that doesn’t just change behaviour, it changes the brain.”

Last year, 5,000 boys in the UK completed Level 3 engineering apprenticeships, while only 40 girls did so. Boys taking physics A level also vastly outnumbered girls.

Professor Rippon says this has nothing to do with innate differences in the way the brains of girls and boys work; it’s likely to be the result of their brains being altered by experience.

For example, one of the most often quoted examples of gender difference is spatial ability – the ability to understand the relationships between different objects in space. Boys and men are said to be naturally more spatially gifted. According to research, if girls aged six to eight are given the tile-matching puzzle game Tetris, their brain wiring changes and their spatial ability improves. Why is this such a revelation, I wonder? We’ve known for ages that the memory bit of taxi drivers’ brains gets bigger than average, and that mindful thoughts can change the brain, so this seems entirely logical to me.

It seems that as women have greater access to education and power, gender differences begin to disappear. That’s a very powerful thought.

So there we have it. Ditch the gender stereotyping for both sexes, aim for gender neutral education, from an early age and we’ll have access to a massive range of talent not just in science but everything else!

By the way, I Googled for a picture ‘images of scientists’. Predictably they were predominately male ones (another bit of brain wiring) but then I found this one above courtesy of pickledhedgehog.com

RenewYou is my one day course for women, delivered by excellent trainers across the UK and beyond. You can find out more here.

Women Are Doing The Wrong Jobs so Therefore No ‘Equal’ Pay Issue?

Posted on September 4th, 2014 by - 1 comment

I wonder what you make of this below. It’s a riposte to the CMI who estimate that women will have to work longer than men by 14 years to achieve same pay levels. This entire article appeared in the HR Grapevine in August 2014 In response to the figures from the Chartered Management Institute – which revealed that female managers would have to work 14 years longer than their male counterparts to achieve the same career earnings – the CEO

Read more…

Young Jobless Women Given Less Help Than Young Men.

Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by - 1 comment

Because of stereotypical, gendered ideas about careers it seems that young women are more likely to be out of a job than young men. So says a report from the Young Women’s Trust: Totally Wasted? How Worklessness is Affecting Young Women? The found that young women are more likely to be out of work than men because of the very narrow career choices they are being funnelled into. Their options consisted of  care working, hairdressing, or nursing. The lads, on

Read more…

Do We Need A Feminist Party in the UK? Mary Beard for PM?

Posted on August 28th, 2014 by - 4 comments

Do we need a Feminist Party in the UK? As you might expect my answer is yes. What could be more of an inducement to form one than the inadequate political representation for half the population in our seat of *government? Sweden, however, actually does have a Feminist Party. Here’s some information on **them: The success of the Feminist Initiative (FI) in gaining one seat in the European Parliament – or 5.49 percent of the Swedish votes – is credited

Read more…

Every Time A Woman Defies the Odds And Makes It To The Top, We All Gain

Posted on August 26th, 2014 by - 2 comments

I’ve had some exciting news and I’m bursting to share it; one of my favourite women, (an ex coaching client), has been appointed CEO of her company! I’m so thrilled. I will be interviewing her soon for inclusion in the Speak Up journal as an inspirational woman, but I wanted to shout out her success (with permission, although I’m not naming her at the moment), because when we first started working together she was on the verge of giving it

Read more…

Are You a Big Knicker Feminist? (with all due credit to Caitlin Moran & Bridgette Jones)

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by - 1 comment

If you haven’t yet had the good fortune to come across anything written by Caitlin Moran I urge you to remedy that right now. She is outrageously funny and speaks loud and often on the topic of feminism. It’s rare for me to read something on feminism that makes me think again, and laugh out loud but she has done it. She has a new novel out, How to Build a Girl. Buy it. I laughed until I cried. I

Read more…

Jane's Book

Paperback or Electronic copy

Free Updates
Simply fill in your details below to get regular updates in your in box. Your details will not be shared – ever.

Connect with me
facebook twitter google+ linkedin RSS