The female brain really works differently: ‘Don’t treat the same, but recognize the difference’

During her PhD research years ago, Sommer saw that the female brain was on average smaller than the male brain. Since then she has been trying to figure out how men’s and women’s brains work.

What are the differences between the male and female brain?
“The male brain is a lot bigger than the female brain. And that’s not just because men are on average larger than women. Even if you compare the brains of men and women of the same height, then the brains of men are larger.”

Does that matter?
“Yes. Everywhere in nature we see that it matters. Usually it is: the bigger the brain, the better the thinking ability.”

Less brains, but they work faster

So the question is: are women less smart than men?
“No, that’s the striking thing. There is no evidence that women are less intelligent than men.”

Less brains, just as smart. How did that happen?
“That’s probably because women use their brains differently. They have fewer cells but it seems that they make more connections, and their brains are more active.”

Yet men, for example, have better spatial insight.
“Yes, on two points male brains can on average more than female brains. Men do indeed have better spatial imagination. And they respond faster on average.”

Treating men and women equally is not a good idea

“It may not be a politically correct story, because it is often said that there is no difference between men and women. But that’s a real fable.”

Why is that fable being maintained?
“Maybe because people want men and women to be treated exactly the same. But the question is whether that is a good thing. It is precisely if you know the differences that you can help men and women better. For example, you could train girls in spatial planning. imagination.”

“But boys can also help you. They are at a disadvantage when they are young. The brain develops much earlier in girls than in boys. Girls already have a full-grown brain when they are 10.5 years old, boys take care of them. 14th. “

Have boys take the exam later

What are the consequences?
“With a fully grown brain you can plan better, better against distraction, better control your impulses, you name it. Boys can do that much later than girls, but we have to do all kinds of tests and exams at the same time. That’s not fair. As young people. would take the exam a year later, they have a much greater chance of doing well. “

Does this difference also make boys and girls like other things?
“Yes. There is always the question: what is in the people themselves and what has been learned? Now research has been done on baby monkeys. They were given toys. And what did you see? The baby monkeys took the vehicles and the girl monkeys took what we did. call girl toys, the dolls and things. “

Any idea why that is?
“We see that hormones play a very important role. Especially testosterone. The amount of that hormone in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women appears to have an effect on the interests of their baby.”

“You can also learn a lot from people who have had their gender changed. I spoke with women who wanted to become men, and who received a lot of testosterone for that. They said that they changed: they got a shorter fuse, but they also went to action about it. They saw fewer bears on the road. Their spatial awareness improved. And they had more sex drive. “

Girls also have to game

“There are also other physical differences. For example, women have extra genes that regulate the activity of certain brain cells. They inhibit those cells and cause you to take less action. So that means that women can sometimes be more conservative, have less pep. “

How should you raise children with this knowledge?
“Of course you can let boys play with cars and girls with dolls, but I would certainly also encourage them to let them play with the other’s toys. It wouldn’t be at all wrong to have girls play computer games as well. That would improve it. spatial awareness.”

And I would say to fathers: make sure you pass on your bravado to your daughter too. Girls and women often doubt or underestimate themselves. It is not necessary. If fathers show that girls are allowed to be there and that they can do anything, they may be more up to the challenge.

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