If the reason Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps is genetic, then one of the genes in the Y chromosome is to blame and in theory could be identified.

Correct or incorrect?

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    $\begingroup$ If it was genetic then the answer is almost certainly yes, but I would think it is more likely due to hormone differences. Ultimately hormone's are regulated by genetics, but other things can influence them as well, for example tumours, or drugs and many other environmental and epigenetic influences. $\endgroup$
    – Kenshin
    Oct 11, 2013 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ check this post. It covers some aspects of what you are asking. $\endgroup$
    Oct 11, 2013 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ There are two main flaws in your reasoning: 1) you are assuming that male autosomes are equal to female autosomes, which is not necessarily true and 2) you are assuming that such complex traits are monogenic which is definitely false $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Oct 11, 2013 at 9:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris why would the answer be yes? See Amroty's answer below and also consider that very few traits are monogenic. I see no reason to expect such differences between the sexes to be confined to the sex chromosomes. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Oct 11, 2013 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon, I agree with Amory's answer. I meant if we assume that genetics is the only reason for the difference between males and females (which is the silly assumption made in the question), and considering the somatic chromosomes are selected randomly independent of gender, only the sex chromosomes can account for the difference. However, that is not to say that the sex chromosomes don't regulate the expression of other genes on other chromosomes, giving rise to gender differences. So I agree other chromosomes can contribute to gender differences. $\endgroup$
    – Kenshin
    Oct 12, 2013 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


"Blame" is a strong word. The human Y chromosome has only a few dozen protein-coding genes. One of the most important, for males anyway, is SRY, the sex-determining region. This is a transcription factor that is responsible for modulating the expression of other genes; those genes need not be on the Y chromosome. SOX9 for example is itself a transcription factor, is upregulated by SRY, and is found on chromosome 11. Most of the genes associated with maleness are found elsewhere. Moreover, once the testes form, they can be potent secretors of hormones that cause a number of physical changes. So is SRY to blame, or SOX9, or the testes? It depends on how direct you want your genes to be. If you're blaming SRY you're not wrong, but at that point you might as well blame fate.

Oh, and there are epigenetic differences between the sexes. You could also make some arguments about the Xist gene responsible for X-inactivation in females.


Imagine a culture where girls are chastised for taking risks, and heavily punished when they take risks and fail, but where boys are encouraged to take risks, and praised highly when things work out their way.

Wouldn't you expect that when put in a situation where such individuals are supposed to make a high stakes action based on risk assessment, that those girls would show much higher stress levels than the boys would?

Big biological difference, having nothing at all to do with the Y chromosome,or genetics at all. Just the environment.

  • $\begingroup$ Good point! It is good to add on Armory's great answer that part of the differences between sexes are due to the fact that both sexes do not live in the same environment (social environment) and this is especially noticeable in humans that have a great culture and (unfortunately) big social considerations of what is a female and what is a male and how they should differ. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Dec 15, 2013 at 10:05

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