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Male and female brains: different, but equal

male-female-brains

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the feminist movement. Love because it truly bothers me that women aren’t equal to men in many areas where it matters, like pay, career opportunities, leadership options in the church, etc. But also hate, because I don’t always agree with the starting point of these discussions.

Many women don’t want to be seen as different from men. But we are. It’s obvious that our bodies are different, but now researchers have shown that our brains differ from those of men as well.

New technologies in brain mapping have made it possible to compare male and female brains when performing certain tasks. Here are a few of the interesting facts they discovered:

  • Women have more connections between the left and right side of the brain, which allows for a more holistic way of processing information. They easily ‘ping’ back and forth between intuition and verbal reasoning and then make a decision. This stronger connection was already detectable in 26 weeks old fetuses by the way.
  • Men have stronger connections between the visual centers in the brain and the executive areas in the frontal lobe. That’s why they are more likely to respond impulsively.
  • There are big differences in brain structure and grey matter between men and women. Women have more white matter for instance, the stuff that connects various parts of the brain.
  • The blood flow to regions critical for emotional intelligence is higher for women than for men, suggesting that’s why women tend to score higher in this. It’s a fact that women are faster and more accurate at identifying emotions for instance.

I have no doubt that more differences will come to light as technologies or brain research advance even further.

Women aren’t the same as men, we’re different. That’s not the problem. The problem is that female skills like fine motor skills, emotional intelligence, and linguistic skills are valued less than male traits.

I don’t know how to change this, but I do know where to start: by embracing the fact that I’m a woman, perfectly made in God’s image. Different, but equal, that’s the path forward.


Rachel Blom is from The Netherlands originally and has over 15 years of experience in youth ministry in several countries. She’s an author, blogger, avid reader and a walking encyclopedia of completely useless facts. She lives in upstate New York with her family and is on the core organizing team of the Women in Youth Ministry Campference. Find her youth ministry blog on www.youthleadersacademy.com

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