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My youngest is studying biochemistry in school and likes to pass on facts that he finds interesting or intriguing over supper in the evenings. I have always enjoyed this kind of thing because I like seeing my children's enthusiasm for learning and I find that I also get to learn all sorts of new and fascinating things. I must confess that what Chuck is studying in chemistry is far more complex and involved than what I studied back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Mostly I remember distilling water and discovering that silver nitrate will stain your skin for weeks. Chuck, on the other hand, is doing far more interesting labs and learning far more complicated aspects of chemistry.
The other evening he informed me that there were distinct differences between the brains of men and women. Anyone who has been alive for any amount of time or has raised male and female children already knows this, but he went on to explain, in great detail, why and how they are different. Evidently, it has something to do with gray and white brain cells and the kind of development in different parts of the brain.
Although Chuck used a great deal of scientific terminology in his explanation that I can't recall, the gist of it is pretty simple – our brains develop differently in some key areas. One example that Chuck gave me is that men have more developed areas of the brain that deal with math, geometry, and spacial concepts, which makes them better at things like reading maps.
“Is that the area of the male brain that also makes it impossible for them to roll down the window of a car and ask for directions?” I asked.
Chuck looked at me and proved that whatever part of his brain that controlled eye rolling was working just fine. He went on to say that men had a more developed left side of their brain while women tended to have a more developed right side, which controls language and communication. I'll buy that since in my experience women sometimes seem to sometimes over communicate while communicating with men has occasionally made me wonder if we speak the same language or are even occupying the same space/time continuum.
“Einstein left his brain to science and when they studied it they discovered that the left side of his brain was abnormally large,” Chuck informed me.
That made sense. Anyone who could come up with the theory of relativity all in his head would have to have something going on. Knowing that makes me wonder if the right side of his brain was conversely somewhat smaller than normal since he didn't even talk until he was 5 or something and was well known for being a bit odd. It's an interesting question.
The lecture continued with Chuck informing me that women are generally far better at multi-tasking than men, which is thought to have something to do with the fact that the area of the brain that connects the right and left sides is better developed, thereby making it easier for women to switch from using one side of their brains to another. In terms of evolution, this makes sense to me. The kinds of things that women have always done and the tasks that life has generally assigned to us are often diverse and complex and require the ability to mentally handle several things at once. You either multi-task or things can unravel pretty quickly.
Chuck went on to tell me that men and women approach problems differently and work out solutions to those problems in a completely different way. I can attest to that. I have a theory that if a woman has anything she wants to keep secret from a male on her computer she should just put it in a file labeled, “Instructions – please read”, and he'll never bother to open it.
Even at very young ages boys tend to out-perform girls in anything involving numbers and basic engineering, which is why I have infinite respect and admiration for girls who excel at these kinds of things. If you are not hard-wired by nature to be good at something and you are anyway, you deserve all the accolades you can get. The same can be said for men who manage to be intuitive people and excellent communicators. Women can read emotions, body language, and decipher hidden messages far better than men, so when you meet a guy who can do all those things, you should acknowledge his skill.
I told Chuck that in the end, it is just a matter of nature doing what nature always does in creating the differences in creatures of the same species to make things work and the best thing to do is just accept the way it is an move on. So long as no one tries to tell you what you must do or can and cannot do based on your gender, it's all good. Then I told him to go do some math while I made dinner, wrote out the schedule for the week, folded the laundry, worked on my painting, sewed a button on for him and saved the world. That got me another perfectly executed eye roll.
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