News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.

News and Features

home | north bay bohemian index | features | north bay | feature story

We're All from Mars

What are the physiological differences between the genders?

By Stephen Juan

The clear message from science research is that there are real differences between human males and females. Some are profound, some not, and some are rather funny. Research shows that males and females differ in numerous ways. Here is a smattering of salient differences:

— Everyone's brain starts out as female. The brain of a male becomes masculine by the male hormone testosterone. If the testosterone is not strong enough early enough, masculinity does not occur.

— Women have a physically smaller brain by about 12 percent, but they have 11 per cent more brain cells (neurons).

— Studies show that women tend to recall memories of events earlier in their lives than men do.

— Men and women tend to have differing self-concepts. Males rate themselves higher on such things as giftedness, power and strength. Females rate themselves higher on likability and morality.

— On average, females are four to six weeks more mature at birth than males. They are two years more mature at puberty than males.

— Men can read smaller print better than women, but women can hear better.

— Men are three times more likely to stutter than women.

— Women are three times more likely to speak sooner and make fewer speech mistakes than men.

— Males have better spatial and quantitative skills. In school, they generally score higher on math tests and do better on tasks that require visual and spatial perception.

— As adults, men are more physically aggressive than women. Anthropologists have reported that physical violence, where it occurs at all in a society, typically occurs first and foremost among men.

— As adults, men's dreams tend to have more violent content than women's. Men tend to verbally express themselves in more overtly violent ways than do women.

— From birth onward, males perform below females in virtually all tests of behavior. The exceptions are those areas requiring sheer physical strength, large muscle coordination, and spatial/distance perception. For example, the handgrip of a five-year-old boy is often twice that of a five-year-old girl.

— As females are ahead of males in verbal performance, and verbal performance is usually essential to most skill areas, females outperform males in most skill areas.

— Males tend to be more "self-centric," while females tend to be more "socio-centric."

— Females are more secure emotionally and thus can afford to be more social and extend themselves to others. Males are more insecure emotionally. This difference starts from birth. For example, if a one-year-old male is startled by a loud noise, he tends to freeze for a short period and starts to cry. A one-year-old female tends to be far less affected by the noise. Psychologists conclude from this that male babies seem to need more control in their surroundings; they are still struggling with themselves.

— Patterns of dealing with depression differ. Stanford University researchers found that when a man is depressed, he tries to distract himself more and dwell upon it less. But when a woman is depressed, she tends to dwell upon it more and distract herself less.

— Women are three times more likely than men to take psychiatric medications.

— Men produce and use 52 per cent more brain serotonin than women.

— Women have 133 more genes expressed in every brain cell than men have.

— Women are more susceptible to chronic headaches than men.

— In head trauma, a man's brain is more easily damaged than a woman's.

— Women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease compared to men. Men are twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease compared to women. Males are six to 10 times more likely to have attention deficit disorder than females. Females are nine times more likely to have an eating disorder than males. Women are three times more likely than men to develop multiple sclerosis.

— Women are more likely to recall childhood memories than men.

— Men tell jokes far more often than women. Although men and women laugh just about equally, women smile more often than men, men laugh longer and louder, and women are more likely to giggle.

— Studies show that far more women than men can sing in tune.

— Men focus language in the parietal lobes when of a lower IQ group, and in the mid-brain if in a higher IQ group. Women focus language in frontal lobes when of a lower IQ group, and in the mid-brain if in a higher IQ group. Thus, the advanced midbrain may be the mutation from whence intelligence rose initially.

Although there are many differences between males and females, research has also established that there are greater differences within the genders than between them. Whatever such differences do exist, they are never important enough to justify any discrimination. But, male or female, you already knew that.

A former Napa resident, Stephen Juan, Ph.D., is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney in Australia where he is the Ashley Montagu Fellow for the Public Understanding of Human Sciences.

Open Mic is now a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write [email protected].

Send a letter to the editor about this story.