Gina Rippon

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Gina Rippon
Gina Rippon 9226273.jpg
Gina Rippon
Georgina Mary Jane Rippon

1950 (age 69–70)
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive neuroimaging
InstitutionsAston University, Birmingham
ThesisThe orienting reflex in normal and in schizophrenic subjects (1982)
WebsiteOfficial website

Gina Rippon[1] (born 1950)[2] is professor of cognitive neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham.[3][4] Rippon has also sat on the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychophysiology.[5]

Her book, Gendered Brain: the new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain, maintains biology plays no core role in differentiating female brains from male brains.[6] As a watershed in the history of science, Rippon considers her findings comparable to "the idea of the Earth circling around the sun".[7]


Rippon gained her PhD in 1982.[1]


Rippon's research involves the application of brain imaging techniques, particularly electroencephalography,(EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) using cognitive neuroscience paradigms to studies of normal and abnormal cognitive processes. This work has been applied to the study of Autistic Spectrum Disorders and to developmental dyslexia.[8]

Criticism of 'neurotrash'[edit]

Rippon is critical of what she sees as the misrepresentation and hijacking of neuroscience, what she calls 'neurotrash'. "The logic of their argument is that males and females are biologically different, men and women are behaviourally different, so their behavioural differences are biologically caused and cannot and, more importantly, should not be challenged or changed. I aim to... produce a guide to spotting such ‘neurononsense’."[9]

As an example she describes how a report examining new ways to look at the brain, considering pathways and connections, rather than structures,[10] was used by the Daily Mail to imply that women and ethnic minorities are inferior.[11]

Books which Rippon cites as examples of neurotrash include:[12]

She would like people to question research findings from neuroscientists in terms of effect size, she is critical of neuroscientists who describe slight statistical differences between the genders as significant differences in their findings.[12] Rippon also says, if you are going to look at brain volume differences then you need to know how heavy and how tall those people are – a volume correction, otherwise the data is meaningless, and not all researchers, she says, do that.[18][12] Another worry for Rippon is a publication bias, that publishers will only publish when a difference is found rather than publishing research proving there are no differences.[12]

Neurotrashers, she says, "extrapolate wildly" and such science can be used for "social engineering" to reinforce perceived male and female roles and status, an example of the kind argument she feels could be deployed is, "You are what your brain can do, and if your brain can’t do tricky things like running a country, designing a bridge, starting a war, you shouldn’t try and society shouldn’t let you."[2]

Rippon is also opposed to the "continued emphasis on 'essentialist', brain-based explanations in both public communication of, and research into, many forms of gender imbalance."[19][20]

Reviews of Rippon's works[edit]

Rippon's book Gendered Brain (2019) has incurred criticism from cognitive neuroscience specialists. According to Simon Baron-Cohen, “most biologists and neuroscientists agree that prenatal biology and culture combine to explain average sex differences in the brain”.[21] Critics argue that Rippon makes her case from an extremist position, denying biology any role in shaping the differences in the male and female brains, respectively. In response, she has said that critics are misrepresenting or misunderstanding her view: she is not denying the importance of biology, merely arguing that evidence of inevitable, biologically-driven effects are overstated, and that observed m/f brain differences may well reflect how different social experiences in education and occupation, for example, can drive changes in the brain.[22]

Media appearances[edit]

Rippon has appeared on a number of media broadcasts within the UK discussing the neurosciences in terms of the male and female brain, such as the Horizon programme, Is your Brain Male or Female?[23] BBC Radio 4's Today programme alongside professor Robert Winston,[2][24] and No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? for the BBC.[25] She was interviewed on the podcast NOUS[26] on the publication of her book The Gendered Brain,[6] where she responded to her critics.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rippon, Georgina Mary Jane (1975). The orienting reflex in normal and in schizophrenic subjects (Ph.D thesis). OCLC 1001034091.
  2. ^ a b c Llewellyn Smith, Julia (17 December 2010). "Professor Gina Rippon: Fighting the 'neutrotrash industry'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  3. ^ Gina Rippon (18 February 2013). Aston Scholars: Prof Gina Rippon, School of Life & Health Sciences (Video). Aston University via YouTube. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Professor Gina Rippon". Aston University. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  5. ^ Rippon, Gina; Senior, Carl (February 2007). "Editorial Board". International Journal of Psychophysiology. Elsevier. 63 (2): iii. doi:10.1016/S0167-8760(07)00006-2.
  6. ^ a b Rippon, Gina (2019). Gendered Brain: the new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain. London: The Bodley Head Ltd. ISBN 9781847924759.
  7. ^ Fox, Genevieve (24 Feb 2019). "Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain". The Observer.
  8. ^ "Gina Rippon". The Conversation. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  9. ^ Rippon, Gina (18 September 2010). Sexing the brain: How Neurononsense joined Psychobabble to 'Keep Women in Their Place'. Aston University. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016.
    Transcript of a lecture given at the British Science Festival, 18 September 2010.
  10. ^ lngalhalikar, Madhura; Smith, Alex; Parker, Drew; Satterthwaite, Theodore D.; Elliott, Mark A.; Ruparel, Kosha; Hakonarson, Hakon; Gur, Raquel E.; Gur, Ruben C.; Verma, Ragini (14 January 2014). "Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain". PNAS. National Academy of Sciences. 111 (2): 823–828. Bibcode:2014PNAS..111..823I. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316909110. JSTOR 23770123. PMC 3896179. PMID 24297904.
  11. ^ Naish, John (5 December 2013). "Men's and women's brains: the truth!". Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d Dr Anna Zecharia, ScienceGrrl Director (host), Chi Onwurah, MP Newcastle upon Tyne Central (guest) and Gina Rippon (guest) (10 March 2014). WOW 2014 | Fighting The Neurotrash (Video). Southbank Centre via YouTube. Retrieved 20 August 2017. If you just want to read one book which is a classic example of neurotrash go for Louann Brizendine
  13. ^ Pease, Allan; Pease, Barbara (2001). Why men don't listen & women can't read maps. Sydney, NSW: Pease International. ISBN 9780957810815.
  14. ^ Moir, Anne; Jessel, David (1998). Brain sex: the real difference between men and women. Londn: Arrow. ISBN 9780749305253.
  15. ^ Brizendine, Louann (2009). The female brain. London: Bantham. ISBN 9781407039510.
  16. ^ Gurian, Michael; Henley, Patricia. Boys and girls learn differently!: a guide to teachers and parents. San Franscisco: Jossey Bass. ISBN 9780787953430.
  17. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon (2003). The essential difference. New York: Jossey Bass. ISBN 9780465005567.
  18. ^ "Does brain size matter: time to stop this nonsense". ScienceGrrl. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  19. ^ Rippon, Gina (December 2016). "The trouble with girls?". The Psychologist. British Psychological Society. 29 (12): 918–922.
  20. ^ 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. Frontiers. 8 (650): 650. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00650. PMC 4147717. PMID 25221493.
  21. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon (2019-03-08). "The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon review — do men and women have different brains?". The Times.
  22. ^ NOUS the podcast. "Interview with Gina Rippon on The Gendered Brain". NOUS. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  23. ^ Alice Roberts (co-presenter), Michael Mosley (co-presenter), Gina Rippon (guest) (29 September 2014). Is your Brain Male or Female? (Television). Horizon. BBC. 42.38 minutes in. Retrieved 20 August 2017. Further details.
  24. ^ John Humphrys (host), Robert Winston (guest), Gina Rippon (guest) (13 September 2010). Is neuroscience sexist? (Audio). Today. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  25. ^ Javid Abdelmoneim (presenter) and Gina Rippon (guest) (16 August 2017). No more boys And girls: can our kids go gender free? (Television). BBC Two. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  26. ^ Gina Rippon (15 March 2019). Gina Rippon on the Myth of the Gendered Brain (Podcast). NOUS. University College London. Retrieved 16 March 2019.

External links[edit]