My wife will be so surprised

Hank Fox, who assures me that he is ALL MAN (just look at that beard), told me to take this test…and I seem to have a woman’s brain.


It’s my result from my BBC sex test. I think I confused them, though: I did well on all the spatial reasoning tests and kind of bombed on the empathy stuff (male!), but I also kicked ass on the “spot the difference” test and the ability to recognize emotions from just eyes (female and off the scale!). Being able to spit out 16 and 17 synonyms for a word also makes me more ladylike, I guess.

(When you look at the actual raw scores and the averages, though, my main impression is that men and women aren’t that much different from one another, given the likely amount of variation.)


  1. #1 no one in particular
    December 28, 2006

    Yet another perverse reinforcement of the stereotype that women should STAY THE HELL OUT OF PHYSICS AND ENGINEERING!

    Poor Sean Carroll, please don’t show this to him. He might get ulcers.

    (How did I do? (I’m a guy, btw). Well, my empathy stuff was all very masculine, unfortunately. And my spatial reasoning scores would have been perfect but I was too tired to finish them. Still got a “50 +M”, which is strange cause I’m gay.)

  2. #2 speedwell
    December 28, 2006

    OK, well, I’m a straight chick and I scored solidly into the “male” range. I’m not unfeminine, but I do happen to work in engineering.

  3. #3 MatthewB
    December 28, 2006

    Dead even: a 0 personal brain score. Check me out: I can read maps and come up with synonyms on demand! Getting even five right out of the twenty eye/emotion examples, though, was complete luck.

  4. #4 sam
    December 28, 2006

    Hmm. Apparently I’m the null set. That’s right, I scored exactly at 0 in the middle. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that I’m a left handed woman? What’s really interesting is that I outperformed both men and women on all of the spatial relationship-type stuff (19/20 on Angles and 11/12 on 3D shapes) and I was about “average” on everything else. If you run down the individual items, I definitely skew more “male” (or right-brained), but I guess the fact that I prefer more “masculine” male faces bounced me back to the middle.

    Nice to see that they’re still touting the now questionable “women use twice as many words as men” bullshit though.

  5. #5 Steve_C
    December 28, 2006

    I scored dead center too. I think that’s a good thing.
    I did well on the empathy test.

  6. #6 E-lad
    December 28, 2006

    My wife told me many years ago that the only redeeming qualities of a male are his feminine qualities.

  7. #7 The Disgruntled Chemist
    December 28, 2006

    I was about 25% on the male side. I also did pretty well on the eyes thing, which I’m sure moved me more towards the middle.

  8. #8 j
    December 28, 2006

    I’m exactly in the middle.

  9. #9 Vera Venom
    December 28, 2006

    Acording to that test I’ve got a male brain in this female body.

  10. #10 toomanytribbles
    December 28, 2006

    i always come out as having a male brain in tests like this, mostly because i’m an engineer and very good at visual/spatial perception, maps’n’stuff, etc. and i can out-parallel-park any guy any day. but i am uneasy as to the science behind this.

  11. #11 toomanytribbles
    December 28, 2006

    ah.. yeah.. forgot to mention. i’m a girl.

  12. #12 oku
    December 28, 2006

    Hm, I just submitted this blog entry to the The Gender Genie. It seems to contradict your result:

    Female Score: 80
    Male Score: 206

  13. #13 j
    December 28, 2006

    I, too, am tired of the left-brained/right-brained, male-brained/female-brained pop-culture science attempting to justify the dearth of women in engineering, math, etc.

  14. #14 Christian Burnham
    December 28, 2006

    I’m +50% male.

    I don’t have to make excuses and rationalizations about my score- unlike you girly men and boyish girls.

    I have the empathy of a block of wood. But I knew that.

  15. #15 Carlie
    December 28, 2006

    What a load of well, you know. Full of old canards, mainly wrong, such as the women 15k v men 7k words a day. Also, the ring/index finger length is a dominant/recessive gene modulated by testosterone, IIRC.
    I’m 25% in the male category. My angle matching and rotating figures scores were waaay on the male side. I’ve never figured out if I gravitated towards paleontology because I was good at figuring out smashed and rotated objects, or if I developed those skills by looking at hundreds of rotated and smashed objects.

  16. #16 Christian Burnham
    December 28, 2006

    I clicked past it- but isn’t this test designed by Simon Baron Cohen, the uncle of the comedian who plays Borat?

  17. #17 MJ Memphis
    December 28, 2006

    Another perfect 0. I learned that I am good at rotating objects in my head (12/12!) and reading eyes, my empathy sucks, and evidently my hands are more female than most womens’.

  18. #18 Sarah Dasher
    December 28, 2006

    See, I got all the faces and spatial relations questions right, but could (by their count) only come up with four grey objects and one synonym for “happy”.

    Maybe I need to switch my line of work.
    — Ed.

  19. #19 Zombie
    December 28, 2006

    +50 male.

    But I’m pretty skeptical about some parts of this test. For example, it identifies the ability to identify emotions from eyes as a “female” trait even though men and women have the same average score on this test (there’s no information given about distribution, so I’ll assume approximately normal unless somebody says otherwise). What justifies identifying this as a female trait, other than a stereotype?

    And frankly, my below average score on the “spot the difference” test is probably more due to ADD than anything else. 😛

  20. #20 cleek
    December 28, 2006


    i’m pretty skeptical about this, too. there are like four (?) things they measure but don’t give a reason for measuring, and a couple where the average score are exactly, or nearly exactly, the same.

    the only one i did that was clearly ‘feminine’ was the Words section (where I rocked!), though i split the difference between the sexes on the ‘Spot The Difference’. all the other sections, where their explanations made note of differences between masculine/feminine, i was clearly in the masculine range. yet somehow, i still got a zero.

  21. #21 fred
    December 28, 2006

    The test was bit less scientific than one would hope. I was almost startled by their question, “Did you know that, on average, women use 15,000 words a day while men use 7,000?” For the last five months or so the people at Language Log have been commenting on this canard, pointing out that there has never been any evidence to support this claim and that any actual research into the area instead supports a quite different conclusion. See, for example,

  22. #22 cleek
    December 28, 2006

    the only one i did that was clearly ‘feminine’

    let me rephrase: “…the only section where my score was clearly in their ‘feminine’ range…”

  23. #23 TheBowerbird
    December 28, 2006

    Wow an even 0 on the test. I’m both a strong systematizer and extremely strong empathizer (scoring way above the average female) (I’m a straight male).

  24. #24 DominEditrix
    December 28, 2006

    I’m waaay over on the “male” side when it comes to systematising, spacial relations, etc., waaaay over on the “female” side when it comes to word use and empathy. My right hand is male, my left female. The test seems to want me to be an engineer, but I’m a writer/editor with a thing for string theory. And I’m left-handed. And a gril. And I couldn’t find an effing metric ruler, so was forced to convert all those finger measurements whilst dealing with the cable guy. Now, I’m going to go eat chocolate.

  25. #25 Kagehi
    December 28, 2006

    Hmm. 25 on the “male” side. Nots sure what all the finger lengnth BS was about though… My ratio on that was 1.03.

  26. #26 Natasha Coureaux
    December 28, 2006

    A perfect zero for moi! I got all 20 angles right but had a brain freeze for “grey” things(5) and “happy” stuff(9). Excellent at spotting the differences (71%). Come closer and let me read your eyes… I’m good!

    The test mentioned Professor Baren-Cohen of Cambridge who is Sasha’s second cousin.

  27. #27 craig
    December 28, 2006

    25 on the male side. Well whatta ya know.

  28. #28 David Godfrey
    December 28, 2006

    More male than female, but did well over the average for the words test (how many things are grey? = name as many rocks as you can in 30 seconds!). Very good at the 3D shapes, not good at the moving shapes.

    Totally bombed the empathy test. I scored 1.

  29. #29 Interrobang
    December 28, 2006

    Strongly on the “female” side, despite the fact that I have strong systematising tendencies (far stronger than my empathising tendencies) and I can’t read facial expressions for shit. I should probably mention that although I’m female, the reason my spatial orientation skills suck is because I’m dyscalculic. I’m also apparently dyslexic, but not in the Roman alphabet (there are characters in both Hebrew and Japanese that give me terrible headaches trying to figure out which way they’re pointing this time, though).

    I’m almost every bad stereotype of the artsy-fartsy chick, until you realise that I’m a systems geek and I’m really good with statistics. *sigh* Nothing is ever quite as binary as popular culture makes it out to be, is it?

    I also picked up on that “15 000 vs 7000 words” bullcrap. By that logic, we can define sitting on the bus with one’s legs spread apart (to give the family jewels some breathing room, ostensibly) as a speech act. (It is, actually; it’s a declarative speech act signifying aggression, from a certain point of view.)

  30. #30 khan
    December 28, 2006

    All the eyes looked pretty much alike to me; were there really discernable differences?

    If so, this would explain a lot.

  31. #31 Monado
    December 28, 2006

    I thought it was, “Men do 80% of the talking.”

  32. #32 Jon
    December 28, 2006

    Confident heterosexual male in touch with his feminine side (50% female on BBC Sex Test) looking to meet hot babes.

  33. #33 Jared
    December 28, 2006

    25% Male here, but I think I only got that far into the male side thanks to a perfect 12-of-12 on the rotated objects test (despite studying the arts/humanities rather than science/engineering in school.)

    I was right around the ‘female’ average on the empathising/systematizing, and was average on the eye bit and ‘spot the difference’ as well. I think I did poorly on the word section largely because I was more concerned with general accuracy (are guns usually grey or black?) rather than just naming items.

    I do wonder about the conclusions drawn from these results, just as a lot of you have. They don’t always seem to follow logically from the data!

  34. #34 Ginger Yellow
    December 28, 2006

    Have you been eating soy, PZ?

  35. #35 lytefoot
    December 28, 2006

    I was shocked at how hard a time I had with rotating the objects; I think it’s probably that I have a hard time resolving “depth” from a 2d medium. Probably not what they’re testing for, heh. First test like this that ever correctly identified me as female, though, I’ll give them that. It must be that the only score I had that was indicative was a surprisingly high score on spot the difference. (My boyfriend, who always has to find things around the house, would be surprised.)

    Was anyone else reminded of IQ tests for the pre-literate (and non-verbal IQ tests) on any of these problems? (Thinking specifically of the spacial manipulation and the spot-the-difference problems.) I’m inclined to suspect that the test will have a hard time IDing gender on people with high overall IQ.

  36. #36 Roy
    December 28, 2006

    I scored low on the male scale, yet the nearest famous person like me is Larry the Cable Guy.

    None of the faces struck me as masculine. I have seen women with mannish faces, but none of the pictures the test showed looked mannish to me.

    I wonder if these people know what they’re doing when distorting faces to make them look mannish or girlish. Some distortions of the face will mimic actual distortions of facial growth caused by disease, genetic flaws, or malnutrition, in which case you are asked to pick the healthier face.

    That hodgepodge of images we got 60 seconds to memorize struck me as a bizarre test of spatial memory. I don’t lose things because they are usually where they belong, so if they are out of place I notice them. Had I placed the mob of objects, I would have organized them, and I think I could tell if the arrangement had been disturbed and where.

    That finger-length thing I suspect is based on people who never worked with their hands. In my formative years I worked heavy labor jobs, having to build strength in both legs, arms, and hands. My left hand, the weak hand, has nearly the strength of my right hand, and my left foot is actually a sixth of an inch longer than the right. I also developed long legs, making me about three inches taller than I would have been with normal growth. Work stress triggers bone growth in length and girth. I doubt the testmakers know any of this.

  37. #37 Roy
    December 28, 2006

    The emotion recognition test was bizarre. Note how many of the eyes have makeup? This confounds the information content. Besides, the emotions play all over the face, with the eyes showing only a small fraction of the activity. In some emotional play, the eyes are unaffected.

    In almost all social situations we are not close enough to anyone to see only their eyes (unless we are in whoopie-making distance) so the ability to read only the eyes while ignoring the entire rest of the face is an ability of questionable use.

  38. #38 Ophelia Benson
    December 28, 2006

    It’s funny about the eyes test. Most of them seemed pretty enigmatic to me so I made mostly forced choices, or shrug choices – oh, this one, maybe, I guess, but I don’t really see it. But I scored well, so I guess I spotted what I wasn’t convinced I’d spotted.

  39. #39 Greco
    December 28, 2006

    Wow, 12 out of 12 on the 3D shapes test. I suppose the connection between your ability to rotate something on your head and mathematical ability is between minimal and non-existent.
    I also got a 0.94/0.95 ratio on the fingers test. Does that make me unusually testosterone-y?

  40. #40 ArtK
    December 28, 2006

    Count me as another one in the dead center. Does that make us intellectual hermaphrodites?

  41. #41 Amos
    December 28, 2006

    I did very well on the rotations and angles, horribly on the “what changed” memorization, effeminate on my hands, confused (and consistent with my shyness) on the eyes, well on the synonyms only if you ignore that it rejected all but one each, and male in my preferences. But I get to the end and click on “Get my profile” and nothing happens. Nothing opens up in the main browser window. Anyone else using Firefox that got it to work?

  42. #42 Amos
    December 28, 2006

    Alright, no solution yet for Firefox but I recreated my answers almost exactly in IE. I tried to cheat and do better on the word questions this second time around, but again got 1 and 1. Maybe I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Result: 100 Male.

  43. #43 XPM
    December 28, 2006

    The point made in a earlier post needs to be re-iterated:

    But I’m pretty skeptical about some parts of this test. For example, it identifies the ability to identify emotions from eyes as a “female” trait even though men and women have the same average score on this test (there’s no information given about distribution, so I’ll assume approximately normal unless somebody says otherwise). What justifies identifying this as a female trait, other than a stereotype?

    This appears to be nothing more than an attempt to reinforce popular prejudices by coating them with a veneer of implied scientific legitimacy.

    If this is indeed the case, then I must say I would find such self-abasement by a proud journalistic institution like the BBC to be quite distasteful.

  44. #44 Tatarize
    December 28, 2006


    I got 50% on the female side. And like PZ, I honestly scored very male on a number of the tests. Also, I noted from the average results a bit down some tests were exactly even between men and women, but the higher score was declared women.

    I think there is a bias in that many of the tests women are suppose to do really well on them. So if you do really well on all the tests you’re female-brained.

  45. #45 XPM
    December 28, 2006

    Interrobang wrote:

    I’m also apparently dyslexic, but not in the Roman alphabet (there are characters in both Hebrew and Japanese that give me terrible headaches trying to figure out which way they’re pointing this time, though)

    I myself had no end of trouble with the Japanese hiragana characters ? (chi) and ? (sa) until I devised the mnemonic

    ”Chisai” (????) faces outward.

    (note: “Chisai” means “small”)

    Admittedly it was not terribly creative, but it saved me from flipping back to the syllabary every twenty seconds.

    This approach can also be applied to the katakana mo (?) and chi (?). The word “mochi” (rice cake) would have done nicely were it not for the potential to cause confusion in combination with the above rule. I therefore feel a peculiar sense of gratitude toward a certain Canadian perogie manufacturer for having seared the name “Cheemo” forever into my brain.

  46. #46 Desert Donkey
    December 28, 2006

    I lean female … with a beard

  47. #47 Azkyroth
    December 28, 2006

    I took this test a long time ago and found that I consistently scored as slightly female, despite stronger than average scores in almost everything (the eyes one I seem to recall doing quite poorly on), unless I deliberately handicapped myself on the verbal section. Amusingly, as I recall my ratios for both hands for the finger length thing were slightly higher than 1; despite being male, it seems I’m more woman than woman. And now I’m gonna have that White Zombie song stuck in my head. x.x

    My own take on gender differences in abilities and personality: “Biology supplies the base; culture supplies the exponent.” I find I have very little patience or stomach for the pop culture distortion of neurological gender differences, and unfortunately have been so struck by the distortion and subsequent misuse of these observations that I tend to bristle whenever innate gender differences, beyond the obvious reproductive stuff, are mentioned. It’s not just cognitive and social abilities, either; I distinctly recall doing a double-take at the entry in “What to Expect the First Year” my wife shared, which claimed that even as small children boys are observably stronger, have better endurance, and have higher pain thresholds than girls…and that males have “a different way of processing oxygen in the muscles.” Can anyone more medically inclined confirm or deny, and is that second part–if it’s true at all–as much of an oversimplification as it sounds like?

    In particular, this test’s stronger-than-average habit of attributing every difference to the influence of sex hormones reminds me uncomfortably of certain discredited ideas about the causes of personality differences–except that instead of Four Humors, we’re now down to two*. *eyeroll* But what really creeps me out are the people who advocate gender segregation in public schools based on these supposedly inherent differences.

    *(I like that. “Two Humors Model: A term coined by Alexander ‘Azkyroth’ Weaver to describe ‘pop-science’ models which attribute much or all of the observed difference in typical mental abilities and personality traits between male and female humans to the influence of sex hormones on the brain.” Fortunately I’m not caveperson enough to copyright the phrase. ^.^)

  48. #48 Amy
    December 28, 2006

    25% male. I did well on the angles, very well on the shape rotation test, terrible on the ‘What Moved’ test, and was roughly in the middle on almost everything else. Oh, and I have ‘male fingers’. This wasn’t very surprising to me – my children could tell you that I’m not a very girly girl.

    But I’m pretty pleased about that shape rotation score!

  49. #49 j
    December 28, 2006

    So from the comments so far, it looks as if there is no correlation between one’s actual gender and one’s place on the so-called “male-female brain continuum.” I’m not surprised.

  50. #50 Clare
    December 29, 2006

    Well, more female than male, but probably because of the “moving objects around” and synonym parts — I was awful at empathy. I had no clue what most of those “eyes” were expressing — few of the options offered made sense to me. So I guessed. I didn’t find any of the faces presented for attractiveness attractive, but was forced to choose at least “slightly prefer.” Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see I got all the “move the object around in space and choose which options are correct” correct — but that’s in part learning, I’m sure, because we have those “brainteaser” cards that train you to visualize objects just like them in three-dimensional space. Bottom line: this was entertaining, but a waste of time in telling me anything particularly insightful about my brain, my gender, or the connections that exist between the two…

  51. #51 Echidne
    December 29, 2006

    The statements on the systematizing-emphasizing part are fairly biased. They give male examples in the questions on systematizing to try to drive results that way. Just pointing this out. Mr. Baron-Cohen ends his book with a rant about the “perfect female brain”, should it exist, to be more accepted than the totally male brain (his view of autism). So he is not a neutral scientist at all but someone who might wish to manufacture differences to support his thesis.

  52. #52 Echidne
    December 29, 2006

    To clarify my previous comment, by “male examples” I mean giving examples that have to do with male hobbies and male interests and not examples that have to do with female hobbies or female interests.

    Oh, and I forgot. I’m 75% male, mostly because I did very poorly on the verbal part. I was told I’m the silent male type…

  53. #53 truth machine
    December 29, 2006

    brain score: 0
    angles: 17/20
    spot the difference: 71%
    hands: left thumb on top
    empathy: 13/20
    systemising: 18/20
    eyes: 8/10
    fingers: right: 1.05, left: 1.02
    faces: prefer more feminine
    3D shapes: 10/12
    words: 10 grey, 8 happy
    ultimatum: £25

  54. #54 Deepsix
    December 29, 2006

    I got 19/20 on angles, and then stoppped. I figured why screw up a good thing?

  55. #55 Amos
    December 29, 2006

    Because the words test was timed and there were instructions that preceded it, I (in my rush) assumed that I had all the necessary instruction and started making a list… without commas. I think that should count as male; and it did.

  56. #56 truth machine
    December 30, 2006

    It’s worth noting that the words test rates cheaters — people who just type a bunch of unrelated words (um, separated by commas, of course) — as female. Whatever value this test may have, the test-makers’ interpretations are rather worthless.

  57. #57 Keith Douglas
    December 30, 2006

    MatthewB etc.: I too am a zero, but a male. Hmm. I do question the vocabulary thing, since I did score extremely high on the verbal section (sometimes as high as perfect on the practice tests, even) of the GRE and people comment on my vocabulary. I just don’t go around rattling off synonyms and that. I just happen to use a lot of technical words from a lot of fields, etc.

    Jared: Me too. I asked myself “Is the sky grey, or not?” (I mean, it is sometimes) and that sort of thing.

  58. #58 Morgan
    December 30, 2006

    I came in as a zero as well. Having developed the programming for tests like this in my past, I know how limited they can be. For example, you cannot tell the computer why you’s choose to give the other person £26, even if you calculate that by giving him (or her) slightly more than equal, you’re more likely to get her (or him) to accept and therefore actually score some money.

    Also, I must have missed the comma thing, as I usually type lists with everything on its own line. And I would argue that words such as “stone” work for “grey” and “clown” for “happy,” so the fact that I got only one word credit surprised me. Since the sample question talked about “things that are yellow,” why not listing “things that are grey” when asked of what it makes you think?

    A friend of mine who took the test was amused to discover that although he is a recognized artist with numerous sales to his credit and a black belt, the fact that his right thumb is more comfortable over his left means that he is not the “fighter and artist” that I (physicist, biochemist, and avoider of regularized exertion) am.

  59. #59 china lamp
    August 8, 2007

    yeah, good
    come and visit me here

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