05 December 2013

Should women run the world?

Scientists at at the University of Pennsylvania have once again confirmed what we have always known intuitively. Men's and women's brains are wired differently.

Maps of neural circuitry from one of the largest studies of brain wiring showed that connections in women's brains tended to be stronger across the left and right hemispheres, whereas in men's brains they were stronger across the front and back. Researchers said this indicated that, on average, men's brains were wired more for perception and co-ordinated actions, and women's for social skills and memory.

If women do indeed have superior social skills, shouldn't they be in charge? After all, in a world threatened by nuclear weapons, growing disparity between rich and poor, and environmental collapse, threats all created by male leadership, we have more need of social skills than ever before.

We all know why men run everything, and it has nothing to do with brains. It's because men are more competitive, more aggressive, more violent—the very characteristics that created the problems threatening to bring global civilization to its knees.

But before we hand over all power over our institutions to women, we might remind ourselves that the results of the study showed averages, not absolutes—the characteristics are not exclusive. They range across gender, some men being quite feminine, some women quite masculine. Margaret Thatcher, for example, was once described as the only man in her cabinet, an apt description for a leader so lacking in social skills. Many men, on the other hand, have excellent social skills and we need what they have to offer. We need the best of both genders. Ruben Gur, a co-author on the study, remarked, "It's quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are."

The lesson here is not that we should give up on men, although it's tempting, but rather that we have underused both women and feminine skills. If we don't start giving both more of a lead role, global society may face a dismal future.

1 comment:

  1. Human behaviours generally occur along a spectrum. There are few absolutes.

    Part of what has happened is not merely that we have allowed the most aggressive to take over (and they have), but that we have allowed the sociopaths to take control.

    We need to start looking for leaders who have a legitimate sense of empathy towards their fellow human beings.