‘The Gendered Brain’ by Gina Rippon – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Do you have a female brain or a male brain?
Or is that the wrong question?

Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour? And what does it mean for our brains?

Drawing on her work as a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, Gina Rippon unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments and shows how these messages mould our ideas of ourselves and even shape our brains. Taking us back through centuries of sexism, The Gendered Brain reveals how science has been misinterpreted or misused to ask the wrong questions. Instead of challenging the status quo, we are still bound by outdated stereotypes and assumptions. However, by exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to move beyond a binary view of our brains and instead to see these complex organs as highly individualised, profoundly adaptable, and full of unbounded potential.

Rigorous, timely and liberating, The Gendered Brain has huge repercussions for women and men, for parents and children, and for how we identify ourselves.

My Review

This book is giving me life. It’s bashing the patriarchy and associated troubling gendered stereotypes with science, fact, research

AND I AM HERE FOR IT LIKE YAAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!

The book fabulously tackles the problematic and scientifically inaccurate that gender is binary and uses peer reviewed research to explain such.

This review that appeared in Nature describes it far better than I can so I’m gonna quote some of that…

The history of sex-difference research is rife with innumeracy, misinterpretation, publication bias, weak statistical power, inadequate controls and worse.

Rippon, a leading voice against the bad neuroscience of sex differences, uncovers so many examples in this ambitious book that she uses a whack-a-mole metaphor to evoke the eternal cycle.

So if it’s not brain hard-wiring, how do we explain the often stark differences in behaviour and interests between men and women?

Here is where we get to Rippon’s thesis on the impact of a gendered world on the human brain.

She builds her case in four loosely defined parts, from the sordid history of sex-difference research through modern brain-imaging methods, the emergence of social cognitive neuroscience and the surprisingly weak evidence for brain sex differences in newborns.

Rippon shows how children’s “cerebral sponges” probably differentiate thanks to the starkly pink-versus-blue cultures in which they are soaked from the moment of prenatal sex reveal.

Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains – Lise Eliot

So basically the over-riding message of this book is that “a gendered world will produce a gendered brain” i.e. when options of non-binary gender are removed what results is not only the encouragement but also the pressurised enforcement of traits that have historically been associated with either binary gender. For example encouragement of male gendered children to engage in sports, not show emotion etc. versus female gendered children prompted to be more submissive etc. And therefore with the continued propagation of these beliefs it becomes ever more difficult to determine the degree to which cognitive differences etc. in male versus female brains are influenced by these outside factors.

I thoroughly recommend this book to someone looking for an engaging and informative read into the science behind sex and gender.

four stars

Other suggested reading:

Gender Mosaic: ‘Beyond the Myth of the Male and Female Brain’ by Daphna Joel with Luba Vikhanski

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5 thoughts on “‘The Gendered Brain’ by Gina Rippon – Book Review

  1. Whoaaa!! This one sounds sooo out of my league that I might just attempt a read! 🤣😍😍😍❤️❤️ I am telling you Emer your review of this fascinating book with its fascinating title has made me excited for this! AND I HAD NO IDEA ABOUT UTS EXISTENCE SO THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR SHARING IT!! AHHHH!! 😍😍😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️❤️🌟🌟💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is an incredibly interesting read Rain. I am very interested in the science debunking the myth of the gendered brain and it is so great to see peer reviewed research being used to inform people that gender is merely a societal construct and that our makeup is a mosaic of different attributes. It is research like this that is pivotal to creating a more open and welcoming society :))))) <3333

      Liked by 1 person

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