©Arlene Taylor PhD
Metaphorically, the male brain and the female brain can be compared to a calculator.
• Tends to function much like a calculator without printout capability. If you could cut the brain open during thought processing, you could see that the brain is moving through a process to arrive at an answer similar to that of a male brain. However, the female brain has no printout function.
• May arrive at a conclusion more quickly with her generalized style of processing, but cannot verbalize the steps her brain went through in the same way as does the male brain.
• Tends to function much like a calculator that is wired with printout capability. Simply possessing printout ability doesn’t guarantee a correct or even optimal answer. It means that the typical male brain can figure out and verbalize the steps the brain went through to arrive at the answer.
• Can usually sequentially rehearse the process. It may take longer to arrive at a conclusion but it can usually identify (e.g., print out) the steps the brain went through in order to arrive at an answer.
Unenlightened, both genders may mistrust a female-brain’s conclusion when attempting to solve problems. Males become accustomed to generating a printout and may assume that all brains come with this capability. Many females have a history of being shamed or blamed for no printout ability. Consequently if pressed, they will try to come up with reasons for the answer (but a reason is different from rehearsing the sequential steps the brain went through). When asked why they thought such and such, females have been socialized to respond with some type of reason although they rarely produce the type of answer expected by the opposite gender.
In some cases females may clam up rather than say they are unable to verbalize the “steps” in the same manner that the male brain does. Some females may even prevaricate (lie) about their reasoning, a tendency that can escalate arguments. When females do present reasons, they may be very rational but those reasons still don’t tend to represent the same type of sequential steps that males are accustomed to identifying with their style of processing.
Unless and until both genders understand that brains differ in the presence or absence of printout capability, males may become frustrated or even discount female answers when an expected printout of the sequential steps is not readily forthcoming. And females may feel inadequate when they aren’t able to produce the same type of printout that males have become accustomed to. It’s neither good nor bad. It is different.
A Word about Logic
Our society has tended to correlate logical thinking to the male brain and illogical thinking to the female brain. That’s a dangerous assumption, number one. Second, it can set up human beings to feel shamed and put down if their communication is labeled as not logical.
The word logical has been used and misused. In terms of brain function, it describes a style inductive-deductive reasoning, often both utilized and prized in research. Many individuals have been intimidated if not outright shamed because their verbalizations were not presented in an inductive-deductive format.
Logic is thought to be housed in the left frontal lobe. Therefore, individuals (regardless of gender) who have a preference for processing information using the left frontal lobe can be thought of as logical thinkers. The thought-processing styles of other portions of the brain are rationale (given the brain is not impaired), but may not be logical in the sense of inductive-deductive reasoning.