Brain Biology and Gendered Discourse

Brain Biology and Gendered Discourse


  • Susan S . Case
  • Angela J . Oetama-Paul


Applied Psychology: An International Review, 2 ed., vol. 64, pp. 338-378, July (3rd Quarter/Summer) 2015


Despite the greater presence of women in the workforce, their organizational experiences and mobility is asymmetric to that of most men. Most explanations for this asymmetry are based on approaches of differences in cultural socialization or power and dominance. This article introduces the reader to organizational neuroscience proposing a brain differences perspective offering an alternative explanation: sex differences in organizations are partly due to differences in ways men and women use gendered talk in organizational interactions, and these differences occur, in part, because of differences in brain structure and architecture, function, and chemistry, part of the neuroendocrine system. This produces sex differences in gender discourse influencing normatively masculine and normatively feminine communication in the workplace. We review studies on the brain including hemisphere asymmetry, corpus callosum size differences, defined brain areas, brain organization for language and information processing, attention, emotion, and brain chemistry. We then link brain biology to gendered discourse characterizing normatively masculine and feminine speech styles, and wide-verbal-repertoire speech used by some men and women where their learning and experience might have led to brain neuroplasticity. We conclude with implications of brain science for workplace behavior with a biopsychosocial lens for understanding how discourse affects leaders’ effectiveness.