I must point out an excellent series of posts at Language Log that closely examines a few of the shaky claims made in the new book by Louann Brizendine, The Female Brain. Oh, you've read about the book in the popular press and in Neurobloggy Land. Sandra at Omni Brain has the best description of a different Female Brain assumption:
I could maybe buy into the Lear jet theory [analogy to a small airfield for women's thoughts about sex, but to O'Hare for men's] if she wasn't also making assumptions about air traffic controllers. "Thoughts about sex enter women's brains once every couple of days; for men, thoughts about sex occur every minute."
Has she not seen Sex and the City?
In a thoroughly researched series of posts, Mark Liberman explains that there's no evidence at all for the claim that
A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.Mark says,
I looked through the book to try to find the research behind the 20,000-vs.-7,000-words-per-day claim, and I looked on the web as well, but I haven't been able to find it yet. Brizendine also claims that women speak twice as fast as men (250 words per minute vs. 125 words per minute). These are striking assertions from an eminent scientist, with big quantitative differences confirming the standard stereotype about those gabby women and us laconic guys. The only trouble is, I'm pretty sure that both claims are false.
Read all about it at the links below.
Neuroscience in the service of sexual stereotypes
Sex-linked lexical budgets
Sex and speaking rate
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