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8 Unspoken Ways Life Is Different For Men And Women, According To Science

Probably wouldn't have thought of these.

Some experiences are universal: we've all stubbed our toes in the middle of the night, argued with parents, and jumped off of an exploding building onto a low-flying helicopter (alright, maybe that's just us).

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But the sexes experience some things quite differently due to distinct social structures, psychology, and physiology. Science backs that up—while we're very alike in some ways, we couldn't be more different in others.

Don't worry, we've got plenty of examples.

1. Women are much more likely to feel cold in office buildings.

Men, if you've ever found yourself arguing with a female coworker about the thermostat, we've got some good news: Science says that you're both right.


A study titled "Energy Consumption in Buildings and Female Thermal Demand" determined that women feel colder than men due to differences in metabolic rates. Unfortunately, most office thermostats are set by men, leaving women in the cold (literally).

The study notes that men can't properly estimate a comfortable temperature for women, which "may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females." So yes, ladies, it is cold in here.

2. Women need more sleep than men.

Dr. Jim Horne, a sleep researcher from the United Kingdom, wrote a book called Sleepfaring that explains the science of sleep (although several Amazon reviews suggest that the book's dry tone tends to make readers drift off).

Getty Images Entertainment / Lisa Maree Williams

One of Horne's revelations: On average, women need about 20 minutes more sleep than men. Horne believes that this is because women tend to multi-task more often than men, so the restorative function of sleep is slightly more important for the female brain.

Getty Images Entertainment / Scott Wintrow

Women have more biologically active brains, according to Horne; it stands to reason that they'd need more time to recover from the stress of each day. Unfortunately, women also have a tougher time getting a good night's sleep, especially if they're in relationships. This is because men tend to weigh more than women, so when they move around at night, their partners are disproportionately affected.

3. Men see fewer colors than women (on average).

Any man who's ever heard something like, "I said to bring me my ocean-blue dress, not the sky-blue one" understands that women see color differently, but there's a biological reason for the discrepancy.

Getty Images Entertainment / Fulvio De Filippi

Some scientists believe that in early hunter-gatherer societies, women took on the latter role. As a result, they had to be attuned to minor variations in color, since a bright-red berry might be dangerous, while a pale-red berry could be perfectly edible.

Men are also more likely to be colorblind. Most forms of colorblindness are carried on the X chromosome. Women have a XX chromosome, so women who carry a gene for colorblindness often have that gene counteracted by their other X chromosome.


Of course, that doesn't mean that men can't distinguish between shades of a color; social conditioning certainly plays a role. Still, women often have a genetic advantage in this department.

4. Women aren't as capable of seeing rapidly moving objects.

A study published in the Biology of Sex Differences found that men are generally better at picking out moving objects from a distance.

Brooklyn College psychology professor Israel Abramov led the study, and he believes that it supports the idea that men and women built separate evolutionary advantages for their roles as hunters and gatherers, respectively. Men who could see fast-moving objects could be better hunters, just as women who could discern between shades of color could be better gatherers.

From birth, men have more development in the visual cortexes of their brains than women, partially due to the fact that they have more testosterone. As a result, men often have better evolutionary makeup for developing skills like hand-eye coordination.

Getty Images Entertainment / Ben A. Pruchnie

Once again, we'd like to emphasize that we're talking about averages—some women are just as good as men at seeing details and rapidly moving stimuli.

5. Women are more likely to be religious than men.

Gallup polls show that women are generally more religious than men and that they "practice their faith more consistently...and work more vigorously for the congregation."

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Gallup goes on to note: "In fact, gender-based differences in responses to religious questions are far more pronounced than those between any other demographic categories, such as age, education level, or geographic region.

"The tendency toward higher religiosity among women has manifested over seven decades of scientific polling, and church membership figures indicate that it probably existed for many decades prior to the advent of survey research in the mid-1930s."

Getty Images News / Alex Wong

George H. Gallup, Jr., a senior staff writer at the polling organization, posits that societal differences between men and women might be responsible for the difference. Women are expected to be caregivers, he says, and they may feel more responsible for their children's moral development.

6. Yes, men are affected by the flu (and certain other illnesses) more than women.

The whole "man flu" phenomenon probably isn't just guys acting. Research shows that male and female bodies react to viruses differently. Studies on rats showed that males often have more fevers, more fluctuations in their body temperatures, more inflammation, and longer recovery times.


Of course, humans aren't rats—well, most of us, anyway—but studies with human cells tend to back up these results. Oddly enough, men might react poorly to viruses because their immune systems overreact

“It isn’t always the presence of the microbe or the presence of the virus that makes us sick," said Sabra Klein, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in an interview with Time. "It’s our immune response, and the research shows that males have a heightened response that summons cells to the site of infection, which contributes to the overall feeling of sickness."

Getty Images News / Sean Gallup

So, what's the biological reason for the "man flu"? The research isn't clear, but many scientists believe it's a function of different levels of testosterone and estrogen. According to the theory, women need to be able to recover more quickly in order to care for children. Another theory suggests that men simply don't wash their hands as often.

In any case, it's worth noting that this effect doesn't extend to all illnesses, as women are significantly more likely to develop autoimmune disorders.

7. Women are more likely to donate to charity than men.

This seems to be true across all age groups, although it's especially notable among older individuals. One study showed that "baby-boomer and older women gave 89 percent more to charity than men their age, and women in the top 25 percent of permanent income gave 156 percent more than men in that same category."

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If you'd like to bring the whole "nurturer" angle into play, you could say that this is because women see themselves as caregivers and feel more of an incentive to give. However, Debra Mesch of the Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University believes that women are more predisposed—socially or biologically—towards altruism.

"Our research has found that women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than men," Mesch writes, "partly because of the way men and women are socialized regarding caring, self-sacrifice and the well-being of others."

Getty Images Entertainment / Ben Pruchnie

"Research also suggests that men tend to make charitable gifts when an appeal frames the donation as being in the man’s self interest or as a way of maintaining the status quo, while women tend to give to promote social change or help others who are less fortunate."

8. Women tend to talk more under certain circumstances.

Here's where we have to be really careful about enforcing stereotypes. Women don't necessarily speak more than men, contrary to popular belief (and several websites quoting this same study), but they do tend to talk to coworkers more frequently.

A study published in Scientific Reports looked at 37 women and 42 men, all master's students. The women talked more with their fellow students when trying to complete a project.

However, they didn't talk more than their male counterparts during their lunch break, perhaps because the break was a more casual situation. When the study was expanded to a larger group, women tended to talk more in both situations, but not by a large margin.

However, they didn't talk more than their male counterparts during their lunch break, perhaps because the break was a more casual situation. When the study was expanded to a larger group, women tended to talk more in both situations, but not by a large margin.

So, does it mean anything that women are more talkative in certain social scenarios? Possibly—but it's important not to draw broad takeaways, according to the researchers who ran the study. The main conclusion of the study is that context matters, especially in science.


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