Professor Gina Rippon

Is your brain male or female? Or are we asking the wrong question? Demolishing brain myths, smashing stereotypes

The idea that male and female brains are ‘essentially’ different is one of the most controversial and contested in science, old and new, propped up by centuries of ‘neurononsense’.

So argues neuroscientist Professor Gina Rippon. Settling this argument, she argues, has potentially far-reaching consequences for the future of medicine and mental health treatment, the workplace and society as a whole.

But do studies claiming to show differences between the brains of men and women actually uncover an inconvenient truth? Or are they, as she proposes, merely attempts to justify a sexist status quo?

It’s time to accept that brains should not be ‘sexed’, says Gina Rippon. It’s misleading to attribute any differences in behaviour, abilities, achievements, or personality to the possession of either a female brain or a male brain. And she argues that new techniques can prove it. After centuries of ingrained neurosexism, neuroscience’s cutting-edge breakthroughs should at last liberate us from outdated misunderstandings of what our brains can and cannot do.

Drawing on her popular science book ‘The Gendered Brain’, Gina Rippon demolishes brain myths and smashes stereotypes. She has shared her thoughts worldwide, from the EU Commission to Sydney Opera House, from Iceland to South Africa, and at many science and book festivals.  

CV: Professor Gina Rippon is Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham. Her research involves state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to investigate developmental disorders such as dyslexia and autism. She also investigates the use of neuroscience techniques to explore social processes including gender stereotyping and stereotype threat. She is an outspoken critic of ’neurotrash’, the populist (mis)use of neuroscience research to (mis)represent our understanding of the brain and, most particularly, to prop up outdated stereotypes. Her book on this topic ‘The Gendered Brain’, published by Bodley Head and Penguin Random House, came out in the UK in February 2019 and (as ‘Gender and Our Brains’) in the US in Sept. 2019. It has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Chinese, Russian and Korean.

She is active in the field of the public communication of science and has spoken at many events in the UK, Europe, the Far East, USA and Australia. She also speaks on the relevance of contemporary neuroscience to diversity and inclusivity initiatives and has given keynote addresses to business organisations and government policy groups, including the UK’s Cabinet Office. She has recently been a member of the Fawcett Society’s commission on Gender Stereotypes in the Early Years and has spoken of the role of developmental neuroscience in early years education to educational policy and training groups in the UK and overseas.

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