ARE male and female brains wired differently? It's a controversial question if ever there was one.
With International Women's Day come and gone for the year, and our team busily researching for our Developing Female Leaders Program, I have come across some interesting reading about this topic.
Ask any man or woman and the answer to the question will be a resounding "yes", there is a difference.
Thinking of this conundrum takes me back to a great YouTube video called the "tale of two brains" by marriage expert Mark Gungor (it is worth a look).
Specifically, how men and women are wired differently. They act differently, they communicate differently and most importantly, they think differently.
Gungor's amusing demonstration of the key organising principle of a man's and a women's brain is worth considering.
The three key identified differences in a female brain to the males are:
1. Women have stronger social circuitry, their "mirror neurons" (which everyone has) are slightly thicker and enable an ability to sense others emotions more effectively through intuition.
These mirror neurons also work faster in a social situation for women.
Women's mirror neurons are wired to empathise where as men's are more likely to systemise or create a set of logical rules about someone else's behaviour.
2. Women have larger areas in the brain that are associated with decision-making and emotion regulation.
While on average the male brain is larger, parts of the frontal lobe which is responsible for decision-making and problem-solving is larger in women.
Men will solve problems and make decisions based on the potential reward and will turn off after they have made the decision.
A female brain will think about the reward consequences, even after the decision has been made hence the over use of the pre-frontal cortex.
3. Women have four times the neural connections between the left and right hemispheres than men.
This whole brain thinking concept allows women the ability to create detailed visions of possible futures and the steps required to get there.
It also provides heightened language-associated thinking.
Men have stronger connections within the individual hemispheres, which makes the task or role of the hemisphere to be heightened (as Gungor explains men think in boxes, women think in connections).
It's quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are.
If managed it could actually create a more powerful working environment if the skills and talents of the sexes were used more in synergy as opposed to conflict.
Sure, there will always be exceptions to what the brain science tells us and the response in the brains is often due to the levels of hormone in the individuals system (ie the ones that affect the brain testosterone and the girly hormones), but as a general rule this is often the case.
What is interesting is that many of these differences are still prehistoric and come from the reptilian brain, which was instinctual - not much has changed from the Neanderthal day.
Tara Neven is director of neuresource group, situated in Tank St. Phone 4972 5007 or 1800 704 320 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tara specialises in organisational learning and development.