Prof. Rebecca Jordan-Young, chair of Barnard’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, discussed the science behind brain chemistry in a recent Live Science article, which was picked up by a variety of publications. The article outlines a new study that demonstrates no evidence differences exist between a “male brain” and a “female brain,” and that even brain regions previously thought to demonstrate gender difference now are believed to show no identifiable difference.
A growing body of research suggests biological development depends on a variety of factors, and cannot simply be broken down into ‘male’ versus ‘female.’ Drawing on her past research about the science of sex difference, Prof. Jordan-Young notes that there is significantly more variation in brains within sexes than between them.
All of these parallel processes could explain why simple stereotypes about male and female interests, abilities and intelligence so often fail on an individual level, Jordan-Young told Live Science.
"The idea of a unified 'masculine' or 'feminine' personality turns out not to describe real people," she said. "It describes stereotypes to which we constantly compare ourselves and each other, but more people are 'gender non-conforming' than we generally realize."
Prof. Jordan-Young is a sociomedical scientist whose work includes social epidemiology studies of HIV/AIDS, and evaluation of biological work on sex, gender and sexuality. She is the author of Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences.