The Myth of Brain Sex

April 9, 2016

University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine Research Building, Moss Auditorium
909 S Wolcott Ave, Chicago, IL, USA


In the past decade, we’ve heard a lot about the innate differences between males and females. So we’ve come to accept that boys can’t focus in a classroom and girls are obsessed with relationships: “That’s just the way they’re built.”

Dr. Lise Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that small differences at birth become amplified over time, as parents, teachers, peers—and the culture at large—unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. Children themselves exacerbate the differences by playing to their modest strengths. They constantly exercise those “ball-throwing” or “doll-cuddling” circuits, rarely straying from their comfort zones. But this, says Dr. Eliot, is just what they need to do. And she offers parents and teachers concrete ways to help. Presenting the latest science from conception to puberty, she zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls, reining in harmful stereotypes. Boys are not, in fact, “better at math” but at certain kinds of spatial reasoning. Girls are not naturally more empathetic than boys; just allowed to express their feelings more.

Of course, genes and hormones play a role in creating boy-girl differences, but they are only the beginning. Social factors, such as how we speak to our sons and daughters and whether we encourage their physical adventurousness, are proving to be far more powerful than we previously realized. As a parent, Dr. Eliot understands the difficulty of bucking gender expectations, but also the value of doing so.

This program will feature a short lecture by Dr. Eliot on the causes of male and female brain differences, followed by a casual conversation between her and Aaron Freeman, science journalist and comedian. Audience questions will be taken after the conversation between Freeman and Eliot.

Event Details


Saturday, April 9th, 2016. Registration/reception at 3:30pm, program starts at 4:00pm.

Dr. Eliot will have hardcover copies of her book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps – And What We Can Do About It, available for purchase after her talk for $20 (cash only), five dollars off the cover price. She will gladly sign book purchases after the presentation.

Event is free and open to the public. To register, please click HERE or on the “Get Tickets” button below

The College of Medicine Research Building is accessible by the Polk stop on the pink line, or the Illinois Medical District stop on the blue line.