I just got back from my Kansas jaunt to find that I had set off a huge fight (well, tiny, really) around nature versus nurture as it relates to differences between the sexes (see comments under "♪ Getting to know me... ♪"). Here are all my astute, professional opinions (meaning: I have no more idea what I'm talking about than anyone else, but I'll spout my mouth off with the best [or worst] of them).
There really are physiological differences that cannot be explained away by nurture, environment, expectations, etc. I believe that nurture tends to reinforce some of what nature provides naturally, but nurture does not create it all. (Michael Gurian is one of several good sources for all this information.)
Boys' cerebellums, for example, the part of the brain having most to do with movement, are, by and large, larger in boys than in girls. You can add "by and large" (b&l) to anything said here, as, of course, there is a continuum and overlap. But there is no denying that, b&l, boys tend to volley back and forth between the two hemispheres of their brains, whereas (b&l) girls tend to use both sides at once. This is beause girls (b&l) have bigger corpus callosums than boys.
I would never say that we should let little boys run around like mad, while we make all little girls sit on their hands. I just want us to recognize that our educational system, which rewards the ability to learn while sitting still for long periods of time--something that boys' brains (b&l) are not designed to do--is disrespectful, even abusive, to half our population.
I am a card-carrying feminist and I find learning about brain differences somewhat refreshing and freeing from the old feminist line that there are no real differences, it's all about society and sexism. It helps me be more respectful, not only of the little boys I work with, but also with the purportedly grown-up men in my life, such as Drunkahusband.
This morning, for example... I was having breakfast with D-a-H and his buddies before they set off on their river adventure. I listened to them discuss in detail what was going on in some sport or another. In the past I might have thought something along the lines of, "How silly men are. They can't have real intimacy by talking about feelings and relationships [something that would only be described as "real intimacy" by someone with a large limbic system--i.e., (b&l) a woman]. Instead they have this ridiculous conversation about something meaningless like sports that focus on projectiles being hurled through the air [something that (b&l) males' brains are designed to be fascinated with] to create a kind of psuedo-intimacy." Instead, this morning I thought, "Wow. This IS intimacy, and I need to just shut the f**k up."
Hey, I consider that progress.