Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers has been getting all sorts of grief after telling an economics conference that "innate" differences between men and women contribute to the underrepresentation of female scientists at universities.
Coincidentally, a new University of CaliforniaIrvine study addresses the issue of differences between male and female brains. It found that while there are "no disparities in general intelligence between the sexes," there are differences in brain structure. According to the analysis, men have approximately 6.5 times as much gray matter related to general intelligence as women, and women have nearly 10 times as much white matter related to intelligence as men. Gray matter is where the information-processing centers in the brain are located, while white matter represents the connections between these processing centers. These differences, according to a coauthor of the study, may help to explain why "men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processinglike mathematicswhile women tend to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language facility." The study also found that more intelligence processing in women is found in the brain's frontal lobes, while the gray matter driving male intellectual performance is distributed throughout the brain. According to the researchers, this more centralized intelligence processing in women is consistent with previous findings that frontal brain injuries can be more detrimental to cognitive performance in women than in men.