Gina Rippon

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Gina Rippon
GR highres.jpg
Rippon in 2016
Born
Georgina Mary Jane Rippon

1950 (age 70–71)
NationalityBritish
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive neuroimaging
InstitutionsAston University, Birmingham
ThesisThe orienting reflex in normal and in schizophrenic subjects (1982)
WebsiteOfficial website

Gina Rippon (born 1950)[1] is a British neurobiologist and feminist. She is a professor emeritus of cognitive neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham.[2] Rippon has also sat on the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychophysiology.[3] In 2019, Rippon published her book, Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain, which investigates the role of life experiences and biology in brain development.[2][4]

Career[edit]

Researcher[edit]

Rippon gained her PhD in 1982 in physiological psychology and then focused on brain processes and schizophrenia.[5][2] Rippon's research applies brain imaging techniques, particularly electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), and uses cognitive neuroscience paradigms to study normal and abnormal cognitive processes.[6] Her work has also focused on Autistic Spectrum Disorders and to developmental dyslexia.[6]

Gendered Brain[edit]

In 2019, Rippon released her book, Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain.[7]

Reviews[edit]

Reviews of Rippon's work have been "positive", according to review aggregator Book Marks, with three rave reviews, four positive, and three mixed reviews.[8]

In a review for Nature, neuroscientist Lise Elliot wrote that Rippon's book accomplishes its goal of debunking the concept of a gendered brain.[9] Rhonda Voskuhl and Sabra Klein, of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, responded in Nature to Eliot's review, arguing against the idea that sex differences in behavior are due only to culture, and criticizing Eliot's claim that the brain is "no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart". They state that biological and cultural effects are not mutually exclusive, and that sex differences occur also in animals, who are not affected by culture.[10] In a review for The Times, psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen stated that "most biologists and neuroscientists agree that prenatal biology and culture combine to explain average sex differences in the brain".[11] He argues that Rippon "[boxes] herself into an extremist position by arguing that it’s all culture and no biology".[11] Writing for The Guardian, Rachel Cooke writes that the book is a "brilliant debunking of the notion of a ‘female brain’".[12] In a mixed review at The New York Journal of Books, Jane Hale noted the book could be improved by finding "a social scientist to partner with".[13]

Views[edit]

Criticism of 'neurotrash'[edit]

Rippon is critical of what she sees as the misrepresentation and hijacking of neuroscience, what she calls 'neurotrash'.[1] "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’."[14] Neurotrashers, she says, "extrapolate wildly" from their data and believes that their science can be used for "social engineering" to reinforce perceived male and female roles and status.[1] She says that neurotrashers perpetuate the idea "that biology is destiny. If you are biologically different that's it and if you fight against it in any particular way that's going to be damaging."[1] Rippon cites the work of Louann Brizendine as examples of neurotrash[15] and has also criticized experiments done by Simon Baron-Cohen.[11]

Sex differences in the brain[edit]

Rippon does not believe that there is a "single item type as a male brain or a female brain", instead that "everybody is actually made up of a whole pattern of things, which is maybe due to their biology and maybe due to their different experiences in life."[16] She puts forward the idea that "every brain is different from every other brain".[16]

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."[17] When asked for a comparable "watershed" moment in science to compare her findings to, Rippon responded "the idea of the Earth circling around the sun".[18]

Rippon states that "I do think there are sex differences in the brain; there are bound to be, with respect to different roles in the reproductive process".[16] She expanded that, when discussing brain differences, "there are sex differences that we should pay attention to, but the power that’s attributed to biology is what needs challenging".[19]

Media appearances[edit]

Rippon appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme alongside professor Robert Winston and BBC's No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?.[20][1][21] She was interviewed on the podcast NOUS on the publication of her book The Gendered Brain, where she responded to her critics.[22]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Books
  • Rippon, Gina (2019). Gendered Brain: the new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain. London: The Bodley Head Ltd. ISBN 9781847924759.
Journal articles
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 2019-03-10. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
Other articles
Lectures
Transcript of a lecture given at the British Science Festival, 18 September 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Llewellyn Smith, Julia (17 December 2010). "Professor Gina Rippon: Fighting the 'neutrotrash industry'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Fox, Genevieve (2019-02-24). "Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  3. ^ Rippon, Gina; Senior, Carl (February 2007). "Editorial Board". International Journal of Psychophysiology. Elsevier. 63 (2): iii. doi:10.1016/S0167-8760(07)00006-2.
  4. ^ "Women's brains ARE built for science. Modern neuroscience explodes an old myth". CBC News.
  5. ^ Rippon, Georgina Mary Jane (1975). The orienting reflex in normal and in schizophrenic subjects (Ph.D thesis). OCLC 1001034091.
  6. ^ a b "Gina Rippon". theconversation.com. The Conversation. Retrieved 20 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "'Every brain is different from every other brain': Author Gina Rippon challenges gender stereotypes". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  8. ^ "Book Marks reviews of Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds by Gina Rippon". Book Marks. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  9. ^ "Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains".
  10. ^ Voskuhl, Rhonda; Klein, Sabra (9 April 2019). "Sex is a biological variable — in the brain too". Nature. 568: 171–171. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-01141-6.
  11. ^ a b c Baron-Cohen, Simon (2019-03-08). "The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon review — do men and women have different brains?". The Times. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020.
  12. ^ Cooke, Rachel (2019-03-05). "The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon review – demolition of a sexist myth". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  13. ^ "a book review by Jane Haile: Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds". www.nyjournalofbooks.com. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ a b c "'Every brain is different from every other brain': Author Gina Rippon challenges gender stereotypes". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  17. ^ Rippon, Gina (December 2016). "The trouble with girls?". The Psychologist. British Psychological Society. 29 (12): 918–922.
  18. ^ Fox, Genevieve (24 Feb 2019). "Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain". The Observer.
  19. ^ "A Cognitive Researcher Explains How Male and Female Brains Aren't So Different". Time. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  20. ^ Hoyle, Antonia (2017-08-15). "What happened when a primary school went gender-neutral". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  21. ^ John Humphrys (host), Robert Winston (guest), Gina Rippon (guest) (13 September 2010). Is neuroscience sexist? (Audio). Today. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  22. ^ 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]