Women's brains offer as many opportunities for genius as men's

Reading time: 2 min – Spotted on Science Alert

In politics, in companies or in universities, men mostly hold power . This preponderance has long been justified by the idea of ​​merit. Havelock Ellis, a 19th e century British sexologist, had a theory on this subject. He said at the time that the male brain, bigger , concealed a greater potential for cognitive prowess. Over the decades, the idea of ​​a “superdiversity” among male brains has been used to justify men’s ability to be proficient in different fields. But a meta-analysis of some 10. . studies defeat these theories.

“From our data, if we assume as humans are like other animals, there are as many chances of having a similar number of successful women as there are successful men in this world ” , explains the biologist and principal investigator of this work, Lauren Harrison, also a professor at the Australian National University (ANU). Along the same lines, there would be as many underperforming men as there are women, she adds.

More than 200 species studied

The research team wanted to determine if anatomical diversity offered a wider range of behaviors. In her meta-analysis, she investigated whether the equivalents of our own personality traits vary to a large extent within either gender, in 220 species of the animal world. Result: there is no convincing evidence to demonstrate a greater wealth of variability in the personality traits of males or females of any of the species studied.

Scientists specify that this does not This does not mean that there are no differences: the immune system or even the morphology can vary according to the sex. But when it comes to the brain, those of women offer as many opportunities for genius as those of men.

“Our research on more than 10 animal species show that the variation in behavior of males and females is very similar. Therefore, there is no reason to invoke this biologically based argument to explain why more men than women are Nobel Prize winners ”, comments evolutionary biologist Michael Jennions.

Nevertheless, there is indeed a sturdy glass ceiling. Scientists say it is not to biology that we should look to explain it, but rather to the social structures, education and culture that push men and women down different paths.