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Difference Between Male and Female Brains at Birth

Scientist Says Political Correctness Is Obstructing Gender Research

Pink for girls and blue for boys may be the most successful marketing campaign ever and princess culture may not be great for girls, but one scientist wishes political correctness and parenthood never met.

Donald Pfaff, a neurobiologist and author of Man and Woman: An Inside Story, is frustrated with how findings are portrayed, particularly when they're about gender. When it comes to nature vs. nurture, he says, science knows a lot more than you think.

His grievance is that sexual politics distort research findings, particularly when findings confirm a gender stereotype and attribute it to biology. He's not the Tea Party of gender studies or anything — he says sex is not 100 percent determined at birth — but he does think the public is more willing to accept physical differences between boys and girls than behavioral. So what does he want us to know? Find out below.


Boys are more likely to play rough and choose a truck over a doll. Studies ruled out socialization by proving both theories with animals. In one, male monkeys preferred cars without ever being primed, while another found day-old male rats play more aggressively than female. However, they became just as aggressive when their brains were altered (done through injections) to resemble males.

He compares these behavioral differences to physical differences between men and women, specifically height: men are taller than women, but we all know very tall women and very short men. Yet, nobody's offended by the idea that men are taller than women. If we could start thinking of behavioral differences that way, Donald Pfaff and a lot of other scientists could get back to work.


Join The Conversation
Lenay Lenay 6 years
Of course there are differences between the genders. But those differences are largely due to hormones and don't kick in until puberty does. Other than size and plumbing, boys and girls are basically the same birth through grade school. My younger step-sister was the toughest kid on the block. When she was only 3 she gave a 6 year old boy a black eye! It's all about environment until those hormones kick in around the end of middle school. If a little girl is prissy and perfers Barbie dolls to Hot Wheels toy race cars, it's because she was raised that way. My mother equated raising rough and tumble tomboys to feminism. When my step-sister was twelve she came home early from school one day upset that the substitute teacher didn't believe she was a girl! (She had short hair and typically wore a baggy football jersey, straight-leg Levis and high top canvas sneakers.) But the next year changed everything. Puberty hit her with a hammer. She got boobs no football jersey would hide and hips that no longer fit in her straight leg boys' jeans. She decided to let her hair grow out too, and started wearing sun dresses and frilly blouses. At 13 she had a boyfriend who was 19 and all of my mom's "feminist" raising went out the window. I, on the other hand, did not have my step-sister's genes (or high levels of estrogen). I remained flat chested until my first pregnancy (at 21). I didn't date at all in high school. I hated pink. I hated wearing dresses; and in the company of boys I generally ended up challenging them to a physical contest--- arm wrestling, foot races, lifting heavy objects. It wasn't until after the birth of my first child that all that changed. I finally grew breasts that didn't need a padded bra to be seen and my complextion got smoother. I sudden found myself the center of male attention for the first time, and adjusted my clothing and makeup accordingly. Hormones are the key.
IdeaOfOrder IdeaOfOrder 6 years
It's not about being politically correct. It's that the studies referenced were flawed in methadology. Read "Delusions of Gender," for another opinion on this matter.
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