- Education and Science
Female vs. Male Brain
by Amber Maccione
Research shows that there is a disconnect between education’s teaching practices and the needs of each sex (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Looking at the brain of each gender, there are at least 100 gender differences in the brain (Jantz, 2014). There are four major areas that are usually looked at: processing, chemistry, structure, and activity (Jantz, 2014).
In the processing section, there is what is called gray matter and white matter. Gray matter is localized and in specific areas of the brain whereas white matter is the networking grid of the brain that connects the gray matter and processing centers to other parts (Jantz, 2014). With that said, males tend to use seven times more of gray matter than females and females tend to use ten times more white matter than males. This means that males tend to have tunnel vision where they go into deep focus on the task at hand and tend to ignore or not be as sensitive to that which is going on around them. They are highly task focused (Jantz, 2014). Females, on the other hand, tend to react quickly to transitions and are great at multitasking (Jantz, 2014).
In the chemistry section, there are neurochemicals. These are the same in each sex but are processed at different degress (Jantz, 2014). There are three main chemicals: serotonin, which allows one to sit still; testosterone, which is for sex and aggression; oxytocin, which is the bonding and relationship chemical; and estrogen, which is the female growth and reproductive chemical (Jantz, 2014). With females, they produce more serotonin than males, which would explain why a four year old girl can sit still and play for hours, but a four year old boy is running wildly around the hours. Females are less impulsive in their actions because they have more serotonin (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Males have less oxytocin than females as well (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). This is why a boy is more apt to go play sports and a girl would prefer to possibly sit still and chit-chat with her friend (Gurian & Stevens, 2004).
In the structural section, females and males are built since birth differently in the brain (Jantz, 2014). Females have a larger hippocampus, the human memory (Jantz, 2014). They have a higher density of neural connections and are therefore able to absorb more sensorial and emotive information than a male (Jantz, 2014). A female will use her five senses and store memory hence having more about an object or event stored in memory than a male. The verbal centers in a female are on both sides of the brain, whereas, the male only has them in his left side. A male would say fewer about something because there is less connectivity (Jantz, 2014). When looking at how this would play out with learning, a female would do better at subjects and assignments that involve writing and reading whereas a male would do better at such things like math and physics (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Because females have stronger neural connectors they are better at listening, discrimination between voice tones, and with details of writing (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Females could handle a two hour lecture whereas a male would zone out or fall asleep unless there was something stimulating him (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Males have to renew, recharge, and reorient their brains (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). They need symbols, abstractions, diagrams, pictures, and objects moving to keep them focused (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). A male would do better with a hands on lesson verses a lecture.
Lastly is the activity section, which focuses on blood flow. Females have more natural blood flow than a male because they use more white matter than a male (Jantz, 2014). Females are more to ruminate and revisit emotional memories (Jantz, 2014), whereas, a male is more likely to compartmentalize (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). A female may dwell on a certain thing whereas a male reflects, analyzes, and moves on in a matter of minutes or a couple hours (Jantz, 2014).
Application in Education
Looking at the differences shows that traditional school, especially post-secondary, is more bias to a female learning structure than a male’s unless you look at technical schools. With even looking at online learning, all of it is about reading, research, and writing to show that you have mastered the information. With males being more hands on and physical, it would seem that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to learning in the post-secondary realm. I can see why 100 years ago males went under an apprenticeship to learn a trade. It was more beneficial for them with the look at how males learn over females. The ironic thing is that the information about the male and female brain wasn’t even out yet. As far as fifteen years from now, I think there will be some changes as there is a push in secondary schools to differentiate teaching to accommodate for different learning styles. There are many ways to assess if someone has learned something. Females are better at writing and presentations. Males would probably do better on assessments if they were more hands on and demographic.
Is educational teaching molded to fit better with the male or female brain? Explain in comment section why, if you so choose.
Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. (November 2004). “With Boys & Girls in Mind.” Educational Leadership (62.3). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov04/vol62/num03/With-Boys-and-Girls-in-Mind.aspx
Jantz, G. L. (27 February 2014). “Brain Differences Between Genders.” Hope for Relationships. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders
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