Diane Halpern

The idea that women and men might actually think differently, that is have different preferred modes of thinking or different thinking abilities, came up in both classes. At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles, I changed my mind. The task I had undertaken certainly wasn’t simple and the conclusions that I had expected to make had to be revised.

The literature on sex differences in cognitive abilities is filled with inconsistent findings, contradictory theories, and emotional claims that are unsupported by the research. Yet, despite all of the noise in the data, clear and consistent messages could be heard. There are real, and in some cases sizable, sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities. Socialization practices are undoubtedly important, but there is also good evidence that biological sex differences play a role in establishing and maintaining cognitive sex differences, a conclusion that I wasn’t prepared to make when I began reviewing the relevant literature.

Diane Halpern, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, 4th ed., New York, 2012, p. xxi