Today is GCSE results day. No doubt, sometime in the next week, someone will compare the boys to the girls. After all, it’s a well known fact that girls do traditionally better than boys at school. But is this down to girls being naturally more clever? Boys being less inclined to learn? Or is something else at play?
Actually, a BBC documentary suggests there is no difference between a male or female brain. That, in fact, there is no such thing as a male or female brain! Although this flies in the face of research that claims our brains are wired differently, apparently, the key is the lessons we learn as children.
In the BBC documentary, No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?, Dr Javid Abdelmoneim conducted an experiment in which a group of seven year-olds at a primary school were treated as though they were ‘gender neutral’.
The results, described in this BBC article, were quite staggering. At the start of the experiment, girls were underestimating how clever they were, whilst the boys were overestimating how clever they were. As a result, the girls lacked the confidence and self-esteem the boys had which, in turn, is believed to influence their later careers.
However, after 6 weeks of being treated exactly the same, the difference in self-esteem between girls and boys dropped from 8% to 0.2%. Furthermore, the girls’ self-motivation increased by 12%, and bad behaviour in the boys dropped by 57%.
These results seem to back-up the assertion long held by feminists that gender differences are more a case of nurture than nature – results backed up by neuroscientist, Gina Rippon. She argues that her research proves there are “very small differences between the genders but the similarities are far, far greater”.
More evidence to support this theory has been found at Tel Aviv University by Professor Daphna Joel. Her research of the brain-scans of 1400 people, aged between 13 and 85, supports the idea that brains are not either male or female but are non-binary.
So what does this all mean for women? Well, for one, what many of us have known all along – that we’re no worse than men… but it also means we’re no better than men. So we should be treated exactly the same as men… and men treated exactly the same as us.
Regrettably, though, this research far from kills off sexism. So, whilst we wait for the world to catch up, why don’t we take matters into our own hands?
For a start, WHISC run many courses that empower women. For example, the long-running Women’s Health Course (starting on Monday 25th September) aims to help women improve their self-esteem and confidence. As does the Stressbusters Course (starting 31st October) and The ‘Do It’ Project (currently running).
WHISC will also be holding workshops in self-esteem, goal setting, and confidence very soon.
So, to find out more about these and anything else WHISC does, do get in touch.