Cordelia Fine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cordelia Fine
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationPhilosopher, psychologist, writer
EducationOxford University (BA Hons Experimental Psychology), Cambridge University (MPhil Criminology), University College London (PhD Psychology)
Alma materOxford University
Cambridge University
University College London
SubjectPhilosophy, psychology, neuroscience
Notable works
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Cordelia Fine (born 1975) is a Canadian-born British philosopher of science, psychologist, and writer.[1] She is a full professor in the History and Philosophy of Science programme at the University of Melbourne, Australia.[2] Fine has written three popular science books on the topics of social cognition, neuroscience, and the popular myths of sex differences. Her latest book, Testosterone Rex, won the Royal Society Science Book Prize, 2017.[3] She has authored several academic book chapters and numerous academic publications.[4] Fine is also noted for coining the term 'neurosexism'.[5]

As a science communicator, Fine has given many public and keynote lectures across the education, business, academic and public sectors.[6][7][8][9]

Fine has also written for The New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, The Psychologist, The Guardian, and The Monthly, among others, and has reviewed books for the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.[10]

In April 2018, Cordelia Fine was awarded the Edinburgh Medal. This medal is awarded to "men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity."[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Cordelia Fine was born in Toronto, the daughter of writer Anne Fine and Kit Fine, a philosopher.[12] She was educated at St George's School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland.[13] She was awarded a bachelor's degree in Experimental Psychology with first-class honours from Oxford University, a Master of Philosophy in Criminology from Cambridge University, and a PhD in Psychology from University College London.[14]


Since completing her PhD, Cordelia Fine has undertaken research at the School of Philosophy & Bioethics at Monash University, at the Centre for Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics at the Australian National University, and at the Centre for Agency, Values & Ethics (CAVE) at Macquarie University.[15]

From 2012 to 2016, she was an ARC Future Fellow[16] at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.[17]

She was also an Associate Professor in the Melbourne Business School, at the University of Melbourne until 2016.[18] She is currently a Professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia[19]


Fine's first book, A Mind of Its Own, synthesizes a large amount of cognitive research to show that the mind often gives a distorted picture of reality.

Her second book, Delusions of Gender, argues that conclusions that science has shown that men's and women's brains are intrinsically different in ways that explain the gender status quo are premature and often based on flawed methods and unexamined assumptions. She also challenges the common assumption that a gender-egalitarian society means that differences in social outcomes and interests must be due to biology. "With still such different contexts and circumstances for men and women, it's simply not possible to compare the choices they make and draw confident conclusions about the sexes' different inner natures."[20] Fine's approach to gender has been criticised by those who think it behaviourist,[21][22] and for not accounting for what psychiatry terms gender identity disorders. However, as Fine pointed out in The Psychologist, the book is concerned with scientific evidence presented as support for the idea that males and females are, on average, 'hardwired' to 'systemise' versus 'empathise', rather than the question of the extent to which core gender identity is 'hardwired'; and that she does not subscribe to a behaviourist or social determinist view of development, but rather "one in which the developmental path is constructed, step by step, out of the continuous and dynamic interaction between brain, genes and environment."[23]

Ben Barres, a Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University, wrote in a review of the book for PLOS Biology that Fine's "analysis of this data should be required reading for every neurobiology student, if not every human being." The neuroscientists Margaret McCarthy and Gregory Ball have said that Fine presents a one-sided picture of the study of sex differences, and that Delusions of Gender threatened to "severely hamper" progress in this field.[24] However, neuroscientists Geert de Vries and Nancy Forger of the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University cite the work of Fine and colleagues in noting that "unsubstantiated claims about the nature and function of neural sex differences continue to be made and such claims may do serious harm".[25] Together with Barnard College sociomedical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young, Fine has rejected the claim,[26] based on quotations of her criticisms of popular misrepresentations of science, that she is "anti-sex differences".[27] Fine and Jordan-Young, with other co-authors, have published recommendations and guidelines for improving the quality of scientific investigations of sex/gender differences in research.[28][29]

Fine's third book, Testosterone Rex, critiques an account of sex differences and their evolutionary, neural and hormonal basis that is the prominent view in the scientific literature and research. In 2017, Testosterone Rex won the prestigious Royal Society Science Books Prize.[30] Harriet Hall, who often critiques alternative medicine and quackery for their lack of a scientific basis, argued in the Skeptical Inquirer: "Cordelia Fine's book provides compelling evidence that men and women aren't really very different other than in their anatomy. There is no such thing as a 'male brain' or a 'female brain'. There are no essential male or female natures but rather an individualized mosaic of features. Testosterone isn't very important. Biology can't be used to explain or excuse societal inequalities."[31]

Awards and commendations[edit]

Testosterone Rex[edit]

  • The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, 2017[32]

Delusions of Gender[edit]

A Mind of Its Own[edit]

Selected bibliography[edit]


Publication date Title Publisher ISBN
17 July 2006 A Mind of Its Own W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 0-393-06213-9
26 June 2008 The Britannica Guide to the Brain: A Guided Tour of the Brain and All Its Functions Constable & Robinson ISBN 1-84529-803-9
30 August 2010 Delusions of Gender W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 0-393-06838-2
24 January 2017 Testosterone Rex W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 0-393-08208-3

Journal articles[edit]

See also: Cahill, Larry (March–April 2014). "Equal ≠ The Same: Sex Differences in the Human Brain". Cerebrum. 2014: 5. PMC 4087190. PMID 25009695. Archived from the original on 10 March 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2017.


  1. ^ "Interview with Cordelia Fine". Times Higher Education. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Our staff — School of Historical and Philosophical Studies". Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Cordelia Fine's explosive study of gender politics wins 30th anniversary Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize". The Royal Society. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Cordelia Fine – Google Scholar". Google Scholar. Archived from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  5. ^ Schmitz, Sigrid; Höppner, Grit (2014). "Neurofeminism and feminist neurosciences: a critical review of contemporary brain research". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8 (Review Article): 546. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00546. PMC 4111126. PMID 25120450.
  6. ^ "Women World Changers 2017". Diversity Council Australia. 14 September 2017. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  7. ^ "FiLiA 2017, The Programme". FiLiA. Archived from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Fake News and Alternative Facts, Scientific Conference". The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  9. ^ Jesse Bering; Raewyn Connell; Elizabeth Riley; Cordelia Fine. "Gender Doesn't Matter". Youtube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "2018 Edinburgh Medal Awarded to Cordelia Fine". Science Festival. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  12. ^ Freeman-Greene, Suzy (24 September 2010). "A brain strained by sexism". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  13. ^ "St George's School for Girls, Alumnae".
  14. ^ "Find an Expert, Prof Cordelia Fine". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Who We Are, Prof. Cordelia Fine". Centre for Ethical Leadership. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Future Fellowships, Discovery Program". Australian Government, Australian Research Council. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Find an Expert, Prof Cordelia Fine". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Find an Expert, Prof Cordelia Fine". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Faculty of Arts, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Our Staff". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  20. ^ Irvine, Jessica (27 August 2011). "An equal footing still step too far". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  21. ^ "The Psychologist, November 2010 by The British Psychological Society". ISSUU. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  22. ^ Farrelly, Elizabeth (14 October 2010). "Gender and feminism, a guilt trip". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  23. ^ "The battle of the sex differences: Interview" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  24. ^ McCarthy, Margaret M.; Ball, Gregory F. (28 April 2011). "Tempests and tales: challenges to the study of sex differences in the brain". Biology of Sex Differences. 2 (4): 4. doi:10.1186/2042-6410-2-4. PMC 3108906.
  25. ^ de Vries, Geert J.; Forger, Nancy G. (1 January 2015). "Sex differences in the brain: a whole body perspective". Biology of Sex Differences. 6: 15. doi:10.1186/s13293-015-0032-z. ISSN 2042-6410. PMC 4536872. PMID 26279833.
  26. ^ "The XX Factor - Commentary Magazine". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  27. ^ Fine, Cordelia; Jordan-Young, Rebecca (6 April 2017). "We've been labelled 'anti-sex difference' for demanding greater scientific rigour". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  28. ^ Rippon, Gina; Fine, Cordelia; Jordan-Young, Rebecca; Kaiser, Anelis (28 August 2014). "Recommendations for sex/gender neuroimaging research: key principles and implications for research design, analysis and interpretation". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8 (650): 650. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00650. PMC 4147717. PMID 25221493.
  29. ^ Fine, Cordelia; Rippon, Gina; Jordan-Young, Rebecca; Kaiser, Anelis; Joel, Daphna (July 2017). "Letter to the Editor | Journal of Neuroscience research policy on addressing sex as a biological variable: Comments, clarifications, and elaborations". Journal of Neuroscience Research. 95 (7): 1357–1359. doi:10.1002/jnr.24045. hdl:11343/292471. PMID 28225166. S2CID 45664076.
  30. ^ "Cordelia Fine's explosive study of gender politics wins 30th anniversary Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  31. ^ "SkepDoc's Corner Testosterone Rex - The Bottom Line". Skeptical Inquirer. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  32. ^ "Cordelia Fine's explosive study of gender politics wins 30th anniversary Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize". The Royal Society. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  33. ^ "Cordelia Fine". Allen&Unwin Book Publishers. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  34. ^ "Cordelia Fine". Allen&Unwin Book Publishers. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  35. ^ "Cordelia Fine". Allen&Unwin Book Publishers. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  36. ^ "Best nonfiction of 2010". The Washington Post. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  37. ^ "Cordelia Fine". Allen&Unwin Book Publishers. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  38. ^ "The books we loved in 2010". Standard, EveningStandard, Lifestyle. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  39. ^ "Books of the year". The Guardian. 27 November 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  40. ^ "22 Books Women Think Men Should Read". Huffington Post, Books. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  41. ^ "Royal Society Prizes". The Royal Society. 15 May 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2018.

External links[edit]