Social scientists point out that in the science of cooperation “tend and befriend,” is associated with female animals and humans as significant a part of human survival and evolution along with “fight or flight.”[i] Research suggests that women leaders are more likely to collaborate rather than to dictate.[ii] For example, a Girl Scout USA study of teen girls found they thought of leadership as shared rather than authoritative in contrast to their view of boys’ leadership being characterized by control and ego. FRIDA, a funding organization for young feminists globally, observes that they’re typical of women’s organization in using co-leadership to share power, moving away from the individual to the collective.[iii] Testosterone increases aggressiveness: In a study following 250 youth, baseline testestrone predicted future violent behaviors.[iv] Role socialization teaches men to be risk takers, impulsive, and to seek sensation; hence men die earlier than women globally. Men have more accidents, are more often drug abusers and drunk drivers, but less likely to seek treatment. This male-sensation seeking is part of learned masculine roles. These traits are also true of adolescents, but women are more likely to grow out of them. Researchers such as Professor Shervin Assari conclude that men need more self-control.
Boys are more likely than girls to commit gun violence and commit suicide in the West, leading some to call for a movement to encourage boys to express feelings other than anger. A neuroscientist, Frances Jensen explained that teenage girls’ brains are more connected across hemispheres and they have superior language abilities compared to boys, placing them about a year and a half ahead in their development. Girls may be ahead in the connections between the emotional and intellectual parts of the brain and they do as well as boys on math tests and have higher average SAT scores.[v] However, Cordelia Fine argues against sex differences in the brain in her book Delusions of Gender (2011). For both sexes, the teenage brain is more plastic, able to learn more quickly, also more impulsive with less inhibitions, and susceptible to addiction and stress that can cause depression later on. In a Doonesbury cartoon by Gary Trudeau, a little girl in her childcare center tells feminist Joanie Caucus, “It’s more ‘in’ to be a female than a male these days! Much more fashionable.” Her statement is backed up by the fact that couples using invitro fertilization in the US more often prefer a girl.
Girls outperform boys in terms of educational achievement in 70% of the 75 countries studied between 2000 and 2010; the study analyzed 1.5 million 15-year-olds.[vi] Girls’ achievement holds true even in states with low gender equality ratings in that boys outperform girls only in Colombia, Costa Rica and the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and among high-achievers. That is, boys are more likely to be at the top and bottom of achievement tests. The achievement of boys and girls were similar in the US and UK. Overall, the study reported children think boys are academically inferior to girls and they believe adults share their perception. Boys have more permission not to conform to norms, as in the statement that “boys will be boys.”
[i] Nancy Dess, “Tend and Befriend,” Psychology Today, September 1, 2000.
[ii] Anna Rorem and Monisha Bajaj, “Cultivating Young Women’s Leadership for a Kinder, braver, World,” The Kinder and Braver World Project: Research Series, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, December 17, 2012.
[iii] Nikki van der Gaag, “Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2013,” Plan International, 2013, p. 95.
[iv] Shervin Assari, “If Men are Favored in our Society, Why do they Die Younger than Women?, The Conversation, March 8, 2017.
[v] Frances Jensen with Amy Ellis Nutt. The Teenage Brain. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 228.
[vi] Gijsbert Stoet and David Geary, “Sex Differences in Academic Achievement Are Not Related to Political, Economic, or Social Equality,” Intelligence, Vol. 48, 2015.