The hunter gatherer theory of human sex differences describes that men have evolved to be hunters whereas women have evolved to be gatherers. By this theory, the brains of men and the brains of women have been created under different selection pressures. The female mind was focused on language and communication especially between other females (gossip) and on searching out multiple food items, such as berries, vegetables and nuts. Men where more focused on tracking down prey, a single item, and used far less dialogue since talking too much might upset the animals they were pursuit. Once a successful plan was hatched amongst a group a men, spoken words were no longer necessary. Women, on the other hand, had to keep each other abreast of which fruits were in season and their location. The research supports this as women use landmarks and memorize routes to connect familiar places to navigate, even in cities, whereas men use more spatial factors such as direction of travel and the patterns of the roads themselves. Presumably it would be easier to describe to someone else how to go about finding berries in the wilderness through landmarks over a sense of the hills and terrain. For women, the food they gather doesn’t move, but men needed to be move about and orient an environment that was always changing based on the prey they were hunting and the season. Landmarks while hunting become useless when in new areas.
Men also tend to score higher on three-dimensional tasks such as moving an object in their minds to match similar items, a task called “mental rotation”. This spatial skill is attributed to throwing accuracy as one might use to fall moving prey. In tests, women perform better on language oriented tasks such as verbal memory and verbal recognition of sounds. Gossip amongst women around camp would have played a key role to protect unity, maintain peace and uncover dissenters. Women have also been shown to be more proficient at using both hemispheres of their brains since their left and right sides are better connected. Women can therefore use their minds more fully and draw from many centers of their brain.
The ability to use both hemispheres makes it much easier for women to work out complex relationships between people and their environment simultaneously. It fascinates me to listen to my wife click away at a game of solitary on her computer while she talks with her mom on the phone. Without pause the dialogue continues, whereas when I speak to my brother on the phone, and he’s watching television, the line practically goes dead! Body language requires a lot of focus and attention and women have much more mind to draw on to analyze it. Women seem therefore more naturally attuned to reading body language subconsciously, but that doesn’t mean it can’t easily be learned as is the case with my wife and I. By far, I am more aware of body language, due in large part to the amount of research I have done. My experience makes up for what I lack in brain power!
Women have a much wider visual field then men. That is, they can see further out on the periphery while still fixated on a central point. This is why women are so much better at finding things in the cupboard or in a drawer. Men’s eyes have pin point or tunnel vision and must look from one object to another eliminating them in sequence just to find what they need whereas women can see the whole picture all at once and identify the object needed. This partially explains why men find it so frustrating to have their things moved about the house when women tidy up. Men simply can not find them if they are relocated, but it’s not as if we don’t appreciate the effort! Conversely, women have difficulty pointing out and following moving objects such as animal in the woods or baseballs. With training however, both can become better at each task, the point is that men and women are inherently different, acknowledging our deficiencies just makes us each easier to live with! Having a better peripheral vision also explains why women don’t ever seem to stare at the men’s “junk” whereas men drop their gaze routinely to check women out. Women do check out other men, they just don’t get caught!