There's a little item in today's Herald Sun which is more politically significant than it might seem.
US scientists have conducted tests which measure neuron activity in the brain; they found that women use both the left and right side of the brain to perceive spatial awareness, but that men only use the right side.
What effect does this have? According to the scientists, men have a more focused spatial awareness, which is described in the article as a "more exact form of mental mapping". This is termed a "co-ordinate" spatial awareness.
Women have a "categorical" spatial awareness in which they are more aware of objects around them even if they are irrelevant to the task at hand.
These scientific findings do seem to fit some typical male and female qualities. Men do seem to focus more intently when it comes to understanding and creating systems, whereas women are often more present in the moment for those around them (yes, these are generalisations which don't hold true in every case).
A psychology professor from the University of Sydney, Dianna Kenny, added that the surface of a man's parietal lobe, which is responsible for spatial ability was 10 per cent bigger than women's and that levels of testosterone also seemed to improve spatial ability (so that women with higher levels of testosterone also have higher spatial ability).
Professor Kenny suggested that the spatial ability of men often made them better at tasks such as putting together module furniture or setting up VCRs and also made men more suited to certain careers such as cartography, engineering, surveying and IT.
Why is all this so politically significant? On the one hand, liberals will dislike the scientific findings. Liberals want us to be autonomous, self-defining individuals. Therefore, they want to believe that our sex, the fact of being born a man or a woman, can be made not to matter. For this reason, they usually prefer to explain sex distinctions between men and women as being artificial social constructs, set up for purposes of domination and oppression.
On the other hand, liberals like to think of themselves as being scientific types. They generally look down on those who don't accept a scientific world view.
So here is the conundrum for liberals. Science is telling them that there are significant hard-wired differences between men and women. If they reject the science, they are joining the ranks of those they have looked down on for so long.
If they accept the science, then they have to admit that the social construct theory wasn't correct - that sex distinctions can't be explained in terms of social influence alone, but that they do have some legitimate basis in human nature.
(I can't find a link to the Herald Sun post yet, but there is a report along similar lines here.)