Are the Differences Between Men and Women Reality or Myth?

They say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Could this be true? We know that men and women are capable of the same things, but what does science say about what really differentiates us?
Are the Differences Between Men and Women Reality or Myth?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

The differences between men and women are, from an anatomical plane, more than obvious. However, what lies beyond the physical realm? What does neuroscience or behavioral psychology think about the matter? One thing that’s certain is that, for centuries, a clear difference has been seen between the sexes. Furthermore, this difference traditionally involved men being considered superior to women.

Aspects such as physical strength, ingenuity, and intellect have always been those virtues associated with the masculine. On the other hand, dimensions such as affection, emotion, intuition, and caregiving have been linked to the feminine. Fortunately, advances in gender equality are progressing. Therefore, we now see women holding positions of power in the public domain and men taking care of tasks such as raising children in the most intimate of spheres.

For this reason, we might now say that the statement that men are from Mars and women from Venus has important nuances. Indeed, it’s true that we differ in several aspects (more than we might even think) but there are also many things in which we’re equal. Let’s see what science has to say about the differences between men and women.

“Could it be it’s not as important to be alike as it is to be curious? Because we’re different, we can have the fun of exchanging worlds, giving our loves and excitements to each other.”

-Richard Bach-

Couple taking a selfie representing the differences between men and women

The differences between men and women

The fields of neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary biology, as well as recent studies on transsexuality, tell us that there are clear psychological differences between men and women. Beyond the obvious ones related to sex and the field of biology, there are other, often controversial, but always interesting differences.

The subject of the differences between men and women has been addressed for centuries. In fact, it was Charles Darwin, with his book, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) who dealt with the issue for the first time from a scientific perspective.

Let’s find out the most obvious differences between the genders.

Brain differences

When studying the differences between female and male brains, scientists focus on four specific areas. These are processing, chemistry, structure, and activity. Dr. Dardo Tomasi, from the University of Florence (Italy), conducted a study that suggested the following:

Gray matter and white matter

The male brain uses almost seven times more gray matter than the female brain. On the other hand, the female brain uses almost ten times more white matter. The reason for this is that gray matter helps us focus on a specific task in a focused manner. In contrast, white matter allows us to be attentive to many more stimuli. This tends to demonstrate why women are, on average, more adept at multitasking.

Hippocampus and information processing

Women tend to have a larger hippocampus. This makes it easier for them to process and remember data related to emotions better. Furthermore, the female brain tends to have verbal centers in both cerebral hemispheres, while men have a greater number in the left hemisphere only. This means that men sometimes have greater limitations when it comes to facilitating more emotional communication.

Larger brain with higher pain tolerance

Men also have larger brains than women. This data is related to the fact that the male gender has a larger body size than the female gender. Men also tolerate pain better than women. That’s because their neural centers related to this dimension present a greater resistance.

Illuminated brain representing the differences between men and women

Behavioral differences

The differences between men and women are also evident in the behavioral field. Indeed, experience tells us that sometimes we act, decide, and react rather differently. Let’s take a closer look.

Men and women communicate differently

As we mentioned earlier, the female brain has a greater ability to process the emotional universe. This makes them, on average, more adept at communicating their emotions. Experts on the subject, such as the linguist Deborah Tannen, point out that women are effective in creating intimacy and alliances.

On the other hand, men are more determined when it comes to communicating in order to maintain their autonomy and enhance their social position.

Men are more adept at making risky decisions

In a study regarding gender-differentiated decision-making conducted by Judith E. Larkin and Harvey A. Pines (2003), it was shown that men tend to be more likely to make risky decisions than women. In fact, on average, they’re more impulsive.

Women are more sensitive to stress

In another study published in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry, it was shown that women are twice as likely to experience stress as men.

The doctor and neuroscientist Rita Valentino explained in this study that the female brain is more sensitive to corticotropin hormone (CRF). Men, on the other hand, more successfully resist (on average) pressure.

couple representing half an orange

To conclude, as we can see, the differences between men and women are multiple. However, this doesn’t make us better or worse than each other. Indeed, there’s no superior gender. We’re all amazing and we’re all capable of achieving what we set out to do. Biology doesn’t determine our potential, it only gives us opportunities to develop ourselves and achieve our goals.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Feingold, A. (1994). “Gender differences in personality: a meta-analysis”. Psychological Bulletin. 116 (3): 429–456. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.116.3.429
  • Schmitt, David P.; Realo, Anu; Voracek, Martin; Allik, Jüri (2008). “Why can’t a man be more like a woman? Sex differences in Big Five personality traits across 55 cultures”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 94 (1): 168–82. doi:10.1037/0022-
  • Tomasi, D., y Volkow, ND (2012). Diferencias de género en la densidad de conectividad funcional del cerebro. Mapeo del cerebro humano , 33 (4), 849-860.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.