Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story

by Angela Saini

‘In the history of science, we have to hunt for the women, not because they weren’t capable of doing research, but because for such a large chunk of time they didn’t have a chance.’

Well, this was such an interesting read that I needed to revisit it. My interest initially was because comparatively little research is done on the different effects of drugs between men and women, and the fact that this can result in unintended consequences. I remembered, too, a female friend’s atypical experience of myocardial infarction. Difference on that occasion could have been fatal.

So, what are the differences between men and women, and what is the impact of those differences?

‘If a phenomenon affects women, and only women, it’s all too often misunderstood and this is compounded by the fact that even though they’re better at surviving, women aren’t healthier than men. In fact, quite the opposite.’

From Darwin onwards, some have believed that women’s brains are inferior. I am sure that some still do. Some conclusions, Ms Saini explains, are the product of bias in the research or flawed studies. So where does this leave us? Are we making progress?

In this book Ms Saini shows that many of the apparent differences (including physical modifications of the brain) can be the result of cultural influences. Yes, there are differences, but the differences are small and apparently significantly smaller than the differences between individuals.

I found this book interesting, and it does raise several issues I want to think about. It is a starting point for me, not a conclusion.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith