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Do girls outperform boys mentally – and what does it mean for neuroscience?


Did you know that most university graduates in Saudi Arabia are women? That’s something; even where they can’t drive a car and can’t go outside without a male guardian of some kind, they still beat the pants (or whatever they call them) off the Saudi guys at university.

And not just in Saudi Arabia. In most countries, including almost all developed countries. In some Eastern European countries, about two-thirds of university graduates are women. Even in very traditional countries such as Japan, South Korea and Turkey, women are still 40-50% of university graduates.

It’s starting to look like when you treat women equally to men, they end up outperforming them. We didn’t see that one coming right?

To say that this is having huge social ramifications is an understatement. It means that many women can’t find men they want to marry since they are beneath the girl's educational level. It also means that an increasing number of men can’t even get jobs, or not good ones anyway. Not just in the US; everywhere.

So why does this occur? It’s not culture because it’s happening everywhere. There have been numerous reasons adduced for the issue.

One of these reasons is referred to as the feminization of education. These days most teachers are women. Does their gender affect the way they teach? When a boy is taught by a woman, is he mentally capable of receiving the cues that she is sending? Is the public school learning environment more suitable for a girl? Is the widely perceived “problem” of ADHD in boys actually really just a normal learning style for boys?

The only conceivable reason is that it has something to do with how girls function mentally. In other words, it’s a problem for neuroscience.

Is the problem that we view the neuroscience of boys and girls as being the same a fundamental problem? Should neuroscience be taught in two flavors, one being male, the other being female neuroscience? Is the idea that men are from Mars and women from Venus really true in the realm of neuroscience too?

Whatever the case, the fact that boys are falling behind girls educationally is true just about no matter where you go in the world. And this is universally leading to poorer jobs and life outcomes for men.

The disparity has other even more awful impacts. The problems in the Middle East are exacerbated by millions of uneducated young men whose best hope for a job is a living wage from ISIS. Or the Nusra Front. They will work for anyone who pays them and do whatever they ask no matter how ugly. Look at Boko Haram or the drug cartels in Mexico for more evidence, as if any more were needed.

As far as the immediate problem with education is concerned, I think we need to think about some radical solutions. These would include:

  1. Boys should start school one or two years after girls, to address big differences in levels of maturity at the same chronological age.
  2. There should be a system of single sex schools, or single sex classes with the sexes separated by gender.
  3. Boys should generally be taught by men, not women
  4. Curricula should be designed differently for boys and girls; those for boys should focus on action and street learning; for girls more on book and team learning.
  5. Teacher education diplomas’ and degrees should be awarded based on a gender major, either male or female. That is you specialize in educating boys or girls, not both.

But this post goes beyond that, to the area of neuroscience. Some conclusions and recommendations here too:

  1. The subject of neuroscience, for other than basic courses, should be divided into male and female specialties. You are a specialist in male or female neuroscience.
  2. Research should also be subdivided the same way.
  3. We should accept that research findings should separately address males and females. In many areas of study there can be no presumption that the neuroscience of a male is going to be the same as that for a female.
  4. We need to specifically encourage research into the differences between the neuroscience of boys and girls
  5. Conclusions from these studies should be incorporated into the practice of education, so as to improve the educational prospects of boys, and to see how we can improve the education of girls even further.







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