HR professionals need to be careful of indulging in ‘neurosexism’, after revelations that widely accepted differences between male and female abilities are not hard-wired into their brains from birth but are the result of cultural assumptions.
Cordelia Fine, a researcher at Melbourne University, argues in her book entitled ‘Delusions of Gender’, which is due to be published by Icon next month, that, although there may be slight variations in the brains of men and women, there are no major neurological differences between the sexes.
As a result, there is no scientific justification for believing that women are better communicators and multi-taskers, while men have superior spatial skills or are better at maths. Such prejudices are more the result of education, popular culture and even how people choose to dress their children, but they are putting “unjustified obstacles” in people’s path to self development.
What this all means, in essence, is that the wiring of people’s brains is soft rather than hard. “It is flexible, malleable and changeable,” Fine told the Guardian newspaper.
It also means that people’s intellectual abilities are not the product of their gender or genes and those who claim otherwise are merely coating old-fashioned stereotypes with a veneer of scientific credibility.
A growing number of scientists are starting to question the notion of ‘neurosexism’ and express concern over its potentially damaging implications. The idea first emerged as a reaction against the strict traditional view of the sexes in post-War society.
But it was reinforced by international best-sellers such as John Gray’s ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, which stressed the innate differences between how the minds of men and women worked as well as their differences in communication.