Table of contents:
- Cognitive neuroscientist Gina Rippon looked beyond the established myths about the differences between the female and male brains and came to the objective conclusion that the brain does not have gender distinctions. Why is it so rare for women to get the Nobel Prize?
- Gender Brain Myths
- The plasticity and mosaicism of the brain is the basis for equality
Video: Why Is It So Rare For Women To Get The Nobel Prize? - Research, Society
Cognitive neuroscientist Gina Rippon looked beyond the established myths about the differences between the female and male brains and came to the objective conclusion that the brain does not have gender distinctions. Why is it so rare for women to get the Nobel Prize?
But this scientist has quite a lot of opponents who are trying to prove the opposite, and the main trump card in these disputes is the excellent spatial skills of men, which are supposedly laid down from childhood and remain unchanged forever.
Indeed, boys from kindergarten and earlier are interested in objects that develop spatial perception, such as construction sets, as well as puzzles and mechanical toys. Perhaps because of this, they have more chances to enter the world of science in the future. However, the quality of this evidence, according to Dr. Rippon, suffers greatly. It is not the gold standard when it comes to biological evidence for differences in the abilities of men and women, especially in science.
The time has come to figure out once and for all when, how and why the brain became gender and what rules actually not only form it, but also govern it on this thorny road of battles for equality.
When leaving school, many capable students dream of pursuing science, but often hear from teachers and parents that the scientific path is only for men. As if coded by these words, they begin to believe in this prejudice, although in fact there is no reasonable evidence that Mother Nature made the female sex incapable of science. Can't women in the end agree that they lost their place in the sun, being engaged in childhood mainly with dolls, and not with cars?
But back to the facts. It turns out that according to the 2018 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, only 28.8% of scientists are women. Historically, the Royal Society, or the scientific society of "natural philosophers" and doctors, was created in 1660, although the first application for admitting a woman to it was received in 1901, but it was granted only in 1945. However, when women did gain the right to education and the means to pursue their own scientific interests, they often proved to be good experts in many disciplines.
Gender Brain Myths
From Dr. Rippon's book Gender Brain. Modern neuroscience debunks the myth of the female brain”it becomes very clear to us why the behavior of children of different sexes is different from childhood (boys dressed in blue hats and pink girls immediately receive different attitudes) and how these acquired attitudes affect the rest of their lives. Fortunately, science has now convincingly proven that the brain successfully overcomes the voluntarily-forced differences of biological sex with the help of plasticity.
The most concrete examples are examples of overcoming gender inequality in science. We know the names of great women - physicists and mathematicians, we are proud of scientists in various fields of knowledge. In 2018, chemist Francis Arnold received the title of Nobel Prize winner.
Women Nobel Laureates
For 118 years of the existence of the Nobel Committee, 49 women have been awarded the same name. 19 scientists received prizes for outstanding scientific research and revolutionary inventions. Peace prizes were awarded to 16 women, 14 women were awarded with the high prize in the field of literature.
The first woman to win the Nobel Prize, Maria Sklodowska-Curie, won the prize twice - in physics and in chemistry. In our country, in the modern period, 28% of women with the title of Doctor of Science work in science.
“While we rather strongly deny the notion that women's biology renders them science-incompetent, the foundational principle of 'blaming the brain' that has lived and thrived since the days of Gustav Le Bon is surprisingly difficult to shake,” writes Dr. Rippon. - Insufficient representation of girls in exact sciences is a worldwide problem. The disadvantage that has long been attributed to biological characteristics has other reasons. It arises from the complex interconnection of the brain and experience, belief in oneself and stereotypes, culture and politics, conscious and unconscious prejudices."
“We teach girls to be perfect and boys to be brave,” writes Reshma Soyani, founder of Girls Who Code. - Now we have a much better idea of what role the social factor plays in human development, it is here that we can find the origins of gender inequality. It turns out that there is always a gender difference in self-esteem, and in men, self-esteem is more pronounced."
The large-scale online survey involved nearly a million people from 48 countries, and gender inequality was found in every country
There was less self-respect for women across the board, although, as might be expected, the size of the effect varied from country to country. In the countries of Central and South America, women have great problems with self-esteem. Countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand follow (so the problem isn't just South America).
The smallest differences were found in Asian countries, paradoxically, but it turned out that gender inequality, on average, is more pronounced in wealthy, developed countries. This is confirmed by statistics on the participation of women in science.
David Schmitt, Ph. D. and author of a study on personality differences, confirmed that gender differences were more common in prosperous, healthy countries where word of mouth reigned supreme
Psychologists consistently find evidence that women are more self-critical and more likely to underestimate their work, and fear disapproval more than men. Perhaps this speaks to the social processes that set women to accept secondary roles in the family and society? Isn't something similar happening in science, where women are really assigned the unenviable role of assistants and they put up with it?
Research conducted by Rippon's team reveals what strategies are being used to mitigate the effects of rejection. Unfortunately, it turned out that women in the scientific field more often use self-silencing than express their opinions (risk of confrontation) or seek help. To find out, scientists used a special questionnaire.
As a result, it was found that self-silencing led to a decrease in women's participation in science and a refusal to use additional funds such as general team meetings and training. And this is further evidence that women are more dependent on external evaluation, they need to maintain self-esteem, and they rely more on the sociometer.
The plasticity and mosaicism of the brain is the basis for equality
“The discovery of the plasticity of the human brain,” says Dr. Rippon in his study, “means that we need to pay attention to more than just gender and age. We now know that different experiences, video game addictions, and even different expectations directed at you can alter the brain. Thus, in the modern world we have a plastic, flexible personality, just like a plastic, flexible biology. " It remains to present the gender portrait in full.
As for cognitive skills, Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacqueline compiled reliable characteristics of the differences between men and women - these are speech, visual-spatial, mathematical abilities and aggression.
Diane Halpern, an expert in cognitive neuroscience, has provided an authoritative summary of the state of the art in research on sex differences that is observed in the sciences and mathematics. She noted that these differences changed in different cultures and were constantly leveled out. In 2005, Janet Hyde, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, came to the startling conclusion that the two sexes are similar in almost every psychological dimension.
In 2015, a team led by Daphne Joel of Tel Aviv University, reporting on the results of a long-term study, noted that we should not “talk about a brain that falls into one of two categories and is typical of a man or a woman; we must recognize the variability of the mosaic of the human brain."
Joel also emphasized that the biological mosaic of the brain is closely related to plasticity, presumably the typical female or male characteristics of certain nerve cells can change depending on the impact of external stress and become, respectively, more like a man or more like a woman.
The different patterns of the brain mosaic may just as well reflect the different experiences of the “owners”. Thus, defining them as "masculine" or "feminine" is the biggest myth in existence
In conclusion, it is worth listening to the conclusions of the neuroscientist Gina Rippon about the plasticity of the brain that persists throughout life in men and women, which teaches us to always take into account the cardinally changing experience gained along the way. Consequently, along with the knowledge and experience gained, women also have more chances of success in their scientific careers.
The cognitive neurobiology of social processes proves that the formation of one's own personality, the transformation of a person into a social being, is perhaps the main achievement in the evolution of the brain.
A person has a unique neural network that is formed individually, regardless of gender, but taking into account social conditions
Specific measures need to be taken with regard to the culture of science to make it more attractive to women. In turn, the female sex is also time to get rid of outdated stereotypes that can hold back the scenarios of self-realization in science. This is especially true with regard to gender stereotypes.
Neuroscience will help build a bridge between nature and nurture and will force us to say goodbye forever to the ingrained belief that biology is assigned to us by nature.
Our flexible plastic brain will help, once and for all, not only change the underrepresentation of women in fields such as science and technology, but also lead to incredible new discoveries
More on this: J. Rippon. Gender Brain. Modern neuroscience debunks the myth of the female brain. M.: Bombora, 2019.