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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon.

Gendered brains: a sexist myth or a fact of life?

Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour? And what does it mean for our brains?

Drawing on her life’s work as a Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging, Gina Rippon unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments and shows how these messages mould our ideas of ourselves and even shape our brains. Taking us back through centuries of sexism, The Gendered Brain reveals how science has been misinterpreted or misused to ask the wrong questions. Instead of challenging the status quo, we are still working back from outdated stereotypes and assumptions. However, by exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to move beyond a binary view of our brains and instead to see these complex organs as highly individualised, profoundly adaptable and full of unbounded potential.

Rigorous, timely and liberating, The Gendered Brain has huge repercussions for women and men, for parents and children and for how we identify ourselves.

This is not feminist science - it’s just science.

©2019 Gina Rippon (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about The Gendered Brain

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dull presentation of an interesting subject

I had high hopes for this book as it is an area of great interest to myself - I've read several books on similar topics. But this one was unbelievably dry. A lacklustre voice droned on in such a way that I struggled to pay attention, so uninspiring was the subject matter and delivery. I tried jumping to new chapters but the monotony continued. Eventually I abandoned the book :(

8 people found this helpful

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An interesting journey to not prove a negative

A very interesting delve into the history if psychology and neurology, the author lays out the history of the ideas, science and movements which promoted the ideas of sex differences in the brain.

The history and exploration of the science are well done, though the pattern of "so this also is not evidence of sex differences in the brain" becomes a bit stale (predictable but necessary given the subject matter).

The cultural commentary is particularly interesting - as a man there were some light bulb moments about how I want to teach my future children about the world. Definitely worth a listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking and informative

Contains recentbrain science research information. Debunks most myths about correlation of sex with ability, brain features, preferences.

2 people found this helpful

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Great continuity from Cordelia Fine’s books

At times it got technically tedious, but that is necessary to prove a point and direct to the appropriate research. At times it got a tad bafflingly funny but that is needed to be inside enough to the joke. At times it got you the much needed “a-ha!”moment. An always it keeps the steady, structured, solid build of a scientific, if popular, stance of a worthy brain science book. Well done!

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Feminist propaganda

I really tried, however, the narrative loses any credibility due to its incessant prerogative to frame everything as a them v us. Bore off.

8 people found this helpful

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great scientific points

this book is thought provoking and sometimes made me lose faith in science littérature or neurotrash. it is a shame about the performance . the author is sarcastic and witty in a very British way but the ''monotone'' made the message sometime difficult to focus on. Great content is you are a parent of young girls.

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An in-depth look at the gendered biology of brains

Fantastic book and a great listen during commutes and house tasks! Further inquiry would probably require a second reading, though, and I have heard that much more information (that critics claim to often go against Rippon's arguments) is given in the form of footnotes. I do not believe this version narrates the footnotes at all, which is a shame. Hence 4/5 for performance.

The "story" - or, rather, the argument - is compelling, but it would benefit from discussing opposing literature in a more neutral tone. Rippon frequently dives into critique too soon and gives no space for entertaining differing viewpoints to data. She also uses the argument of brain plasticity to explain away any differences found between male and female brains, even though I do not recall her ever overviewing the key literature relating to it. Hence the mentions of plasticity feel somewhat flat; Rippon does not give room for the reader to decide for themselves whether they are convinced by plasticity is being a valid explanation or not. I also wish Rippon had touched on the topic of brains in transgender and gender non-conforming identities, but I suppose in the current political climate it was the right choice to tread carefully.

Overall, the book is a very good starting point to the topic. Listening to this book has certainly made me interested in looking further into the difference, or lack thereof, between male, female, and sex/gender non-conforming brains.

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Loved it!

Found myself exclaiming out loud through out this book. Have already recommended it to others.

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Good

Loved it, but it could have been shorter and a little bit more organized. It's a little bit disappointing that Rippon didn't go further in some areas, but all in all a very comprehensive book, very helpful in understanding the way science works.

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Profile Image for Luci L
  • Luci L
  • 28-01-20

Watch the debate on youtube instead

Watch the "Is the brain gendered?" debate on youtube and you'll see the author being debunked with a bunch of facts in about 10 minutes.

This book is the longer, more cringeworthy version of that. Save yourself the time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LMS
  • 17-06-20

We are what we do

This book could be summarised as "we are what we do". Essentially, our brains aren't set in stone, and nor are the characteristics of our brains (, behaviours, personalities). When we do something, our brain builds the connections etc so that we'll do that thing more effectively in future. As such, things like gender roles act as a 'strait-jacket' (in the author's words) for our brains, limiting our capabilities through exposing us to some things--and not others--as well as our expectations of ourselves.

I didn't learn a HUGE amount from this book, but that's primarily because I do a lot of feminist reading as well as a lot around neuroscience--and particularly prediction mechanisms--for my PhD. As you do.

I will, however, be throwing this book at the next person who claims women "can't do math/read a map/use a hammer" because we're just "not made that way". It's all hogwash. Boo to evolutionary psychology and the retrograde conceptions of humanity and our brains in which it's embedded.