Thursday, 11 August 2011

Aware of the Differences

Someone stole my copy of Brainsex. Published about twenty years ago, I found it a fascinating read (and should replace my missing copy soon) and I was looking at a summary of information in the book recently, reminding myself of the massive differences that aren't obvious... differences I need to keep in mind as I'm teaching young women on a daily basis:

"Girls and women hear better than men. When the sexes are compared, women show a greater sensitivity to sound. The dripping tap will get the woman out of bed before the man has even woken up. Six times as many girls as boys can sing in tune. They are also more adept in noticing small changes in volume, which goes some way to explaining womens' superior sensitivity to that "tone of voice" which their male partners are so often accused of adopting.

Men and women even see some things differently. Women see better in the dark. They are more sensitive to the red end of the spectrum, seeing more red hues there than men, and have a better visual memory. Men see better than women in bright light. Intriguing results also show that men tend to be literally blinkered; they see in a narrow field - mild tunnel vision - with greater concentration on depth. They have a better sense of perspective than women. Women, however, quite literally take in the bigger picture. They have wider peripheral vision, because they have more of the receptor rods and cones in the retina, at the back of the eyeball, to receive a wider arc of visual input.

The differences extend to the other senses. Women react faster, and more acutely, to pain, although their overall resistance to long-term discomfort is greater than men's. In a sample of young adults, females showed "overwhelmingly" greater sensitivity to pressure on the skin on every part of the body. In childhood and maturity, women have a tactile sensitivity so superior to men's that in some tests there is no overlap between the scores of the two sexes; in these, the least sensitive woman is more sensitive than the most sensitive man."

Burn brightly, Pete

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