Men versus Women: What makes their minds tick?
You may have often heard the expression ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus,’ without reflecting upon its origin. The saying does not necessarily stem from the differences in the physical attributes of the human male and female forms, but has its roots in the way their brains function. Virtues like logic and reasoning are attributed to men, while creativity and empathy are considered synonymous with women.
At times, however, you will find women not only participating but standing out in fields considered predominantly male territory. It’s common knowledge that many women display male traits and vice-versa. Therefore, while there are males who have excelled as painters, dancers and cooks, a number of women have also dominated male bastions like administration and politics. People of my age would recollect that Indira Gandhi was considered the only male member in the entire cabinet!
More recently, notably over the last couple of decades, the Indian political scenario has seen an active involvement of women like Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Vasundhara Raje and those like the late Jayalalithaa and Sushma Swaraj who have left behind legacies in the form of their outstanding voices and stellar political careers.
In addition to their remarkable political presence, all these women also share similar personalities. They are determined, dominating, disciplined and self-respecting. All enjoy taking on challenges and achieving targets they set for themselves gives them a kick. All of them quite comfortably fit into the definition accorded to a politician by Carl Sandberg, who said, ‘A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of, if elected.”
This leads one to believe that this degree of commonality has to have roots in their brains. While it is known that males and female brains work differently, their gender personalities are determined genetically in the intrauterine life and influenced by male/female hormones as early as the seventh month of pregnancy.
The difference between brains of men and women has been a subject of considerable scientific and public interest. New scientific research has found subtle differences between the brains of men and women. The studies, which include both physical imaging and psychological research, are leading to a greater understanding of the differences between the sexes. While it’s not completely clear how the structural differences in male and female brains affect their functioning, scientists theorise that the most likely impact is upon the way men and women process information.
One difference between men’s and women’s brains is the size. On average, men’s brains are 10 percent bigger than women’s brains and have 4 percent more grey cells. The absolute size of the brain, however, is not the best measure of intelligence and before men claim superiority on its basis, they need to know that women’s brains contain more nerve cells and cellular connections. This allows women’s smaller, more compact brains to be more efficient and effective.
Men’s brains tend to perform tasks predominantly with the left-side, which is the logical/rational side of the brain. Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains because a woman’s brain has a larger corpus callosum, which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemispheres faster than men. So, while Martians perform better in the sense of direction, women rely on their stronger memory. However, Venusians’ memory skills can be a double-edged sword, as they are more inclined to remember everything a Martian does, especially when it comes to irritating or hurtful behaviour.
The other structural difference in men and women’s brains is the limbic size, which controls bonding and nesting instincts. Women, on average, have larger and deeper limbic systems than men. This is the reason why Venusians tend to be more in touch with their feelings and can express these better. The larger, deeper limbic system also increases a Venusian’s ability to connect and bond with others and they are, thus, hardwired for empathy. The downside of this is that women are more susceptible to depression, not only because of the larger limbic system, but also because they produce less serotonin than men.
Overall, we can say that there are two minds in one brain — the left and the right — connected through a nerve-fibre bundle. While both are complementary, in men the left, which is logical, analytical and mathematical, dominates. In women, the dominant right brain makes them more creative, imaginative and emotional on one side, but negative and anxious on the other!
We now know why men are more often obsessed with calculations and why women are more dreamy and empathetic.
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