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The history of the myth "The Gendered Brain" with Gina Rippon

From neurotrash and neurosexism to Charles Darwin, Gina Rippon gives a brief history of the brain.

November 12, 2020
2 min read

Gina Rippon wants to debunk the gendered brain myth. In fact, she literally wrote the book on it. Gina was the Head of Neuroimaging at Aston University Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience where she spent her days studying brain imaging to reach some groundbreaking conclusions.

You can listen to episode 12 here.

The gendered brain myth

On today's Braincare podcast, Gina Rippon takes us on a whistlestop tour of the gendered brain myth, from the skewed metrics and willful ignorance of early neuroscientists, through Darwin's cognitive dissonance, right up to the neurosexist misconceptions that still impact science today.

There are some wonderful quotes very early on that said bright women were so rare, they were as rare as a two-headed gorilla.

Gender development and the human brain

Over the 20th Century, the 'Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus' trope was widely accepted with thanks, in part, to what Gina calls 'neuro trash'. Now, neuroscientists discredit those seductive fallacies, but has society caught up?

I'm not a sex difference denier. I do think that there are differences in the brain but they're generally very tiny, whereas the variability within groups of men and groups of women is huge.

Podcast episode takeaways

In this first episode with Gina Rippon we will cover:

  • What is the gendered brain myth?

  • Rewriting evolution: even Darwin was susceptible to a little cognitive dissonance

  • Do male and female brains actually differ?

  • How did gender discrimination cloud neuro-scientific discovery

  • Neuro-trash and neuro-sexism

  • How 21st Century neuroscience debunks the gendered brain myth

Listen to the full episode here—and subscribe to The Braincare Podcast to get more bitesize interviews with the world's leading scientists and experts.

Want to hear more brain myths? Check out our previous episode with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee on 5 Minute Hacks For A Healthier Brain.

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