UK – Professor Gina Rippon, Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at Aston University, says there is no such thing as a “male” or “female” brain and companies need to “remove the pink and blue divides” in their products, especially toys.
Speaking at Warc and Walnut Unlimited’s Brainy Bar event last week, Ripon said that much of our belief in the differences between how men’s and women’s brains work is based on outdated science from the 18e and 19e century.
She previously said that “fixed, somehow determined, hard-wired and that was the brain you have”, when recent evidence suggests that is completely untrue.
“There is no consistent and reliable difference”, Ripon said. “We have to get rid of the idea that we have some kind of difference between men and women.”
Ripon said the brain is “flexible” throughout people’s lives and can change based on external stimuli.
“The brain is not just a passive information processor,” she explained. “It actually sets the rules of engagement.
“It tracks the trail of a choice you’ve made or a response to a stimulus and generates a rule and then generates a prediction – ‘next time you encounter this is what you’re likely to encounter and this is how you should behave”. A high-end sat navigation.”
Brains are also permeable, she added, with negative and positive messages having profound impacts on people’s abilities when performing tasks.
“Our brain is constantly interacting with the outside world”, Ripon maintained. “And that’s really important when you look at the outside work and the messages that we have.”
The concept of nature versus nurture is also outdated, Ripon said. “It’s neither natural nor given. We now know that the two processes are so intertwined that we have to get rid of this idea – it’s past its sell-by date.
“It’s always a brain process. If the outside tells you something about yourself, it will have pretty profound effects on your behavior.
It means we have to give up sexed marketing, Ripon explained, as it had a profoundly negative impact on children’s development.
“This is when brains develop – they are extremely plastic, flexible and influenceable,” she added. “So you have to be very careful.
“We have to get rid of pink or blue divisions.”