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Pink brains? Or, neurosexism?

Increasingly neuroscience is invoked to tell us the nature of human beings and their cognitive capacities. Schools rely heavily on that science, and it informs our understandings of the education of girls.

We rethink that here. This article examines the representations of girls and gender that operate within the popular ideas of “pink brains” and “blue brains.” As brain research moves into education and teacher training, what are the implications for curriculum, pedagogy, and school organization? We discern that findings from neuroscience confirm familiar images of girls: as early maturing, emotional, needing to feel liked by teachers, and as needing abstract ideas connected to real life. Writers utilizing the evidence of brain research are quick to call brains “hard-wired” and equally quick to call for sex-segregated classrooms. In interpreting neuroscience in critical ways, the social contexts and political implications of imaging young women as hard-wired brains are highlighted.

Read paper here +

Photo by Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash

Related resources

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps by Lise Eliot (Mariner Books, 2010)

Brainstorm: The Flaw in the Science of Sex Difference by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young (Harvard University Press, 2011)