Mars and Venus. Pink and blue. As the stereotypes would have it, men and women have little in common but the ability to procreate. But how grounded in scientific reality are our culture’s notions about the ways the sexes diverge? And what does the influence of gender mean for our minds–for how we think and communicate?
We at Scientific American Mind wanted to know, too. So, in a first for the magazine, the editors have devoted an entire issue to this topic of gender and the brain. The articles look at male-female differences–and also some perhaps surprising similarities. “ He Said, She Said ,” by linguist Deborah Tannen, for instance, explains how all conversations and relationships between couples involve a combination of hierarchy and connection. Women’s and men’s conversational styles turn out to be different ways of reaching the same goals.