Gina Rippon Keynote Speaker
- Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham UK.
- Author, 'The Gendered Brain: The new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain' (2019)
- Outspoken critic of 'neurotrash', the mis-use of neuroscience that props up outdated gender stereotypes
Gina Rippon's Biography
Gina Rippon is Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham UK and a world expert on brain-imaging techniques. She is a speaker on gender, neuroscience, diversity and inclusion, and is known for being an outspoken critic of ‘neurotrash’, the mis-use of neuroscience that props up outdated gender stereotypes.
With a background in psychology and physiology, Gina uses state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to investigate developmental disorders such as dyslexia and autism, as well as the links between individual differences in brain activity and individual differences in behaviour. She has conducted extensive research on the alleged differences between the psychology of males and females, and the use of neuroscience techniques used to explore social pressures such as gender stereotyping and stereotype threat.
Gina’s work debunks the myth that there is an intrinsic difference between male and female brains, and that this explains all kinds of gender gaps and gender inequalities – a myth she calls ‘the Brain Problem’. She argues that the mis-use of neuroscience research perpetuates outdated stereotypes and misrepresents our understanding of the brain. She shows that differences in performance between males and females are the result of social factors, and demonstrates various psychological techniques that can rectify these culturally determined imbalances.
Gina is the author of ‘The Gendered Brain: The new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain’ (2019), which was translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Korean and Chinese (published in the US as ‘Gender and Our Brains’), and described by the Observer as “highly accessible…revolutionary to a glorious degree”. In the book, Gina unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments, demonstrates how these messages mould us and our brains, and urges readers to view our complex brains as highly individualised, adaptable, and full of potential.
She has worked on several projects on gender equality in STEM, including an EU initiative on gender equality in research and innovation (GERI), the All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into Equity in STEM led by the British Science Association, and served on the Fawcett Society’s Commission investigating gender stereotypes in the early years. Gina is the Past President of the British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience and in 2015, and was made an Honourary Fellow of the British Science Association for services to the communication of science.
Her insights are highly sought after and she has written for popular science outlets including New Scientist, Scientific American and The Conversation, among others. She has appeared on programmes including BBC’s Horizon, Start the Week, Woman’s Hour and The Infinite Monkey Cage, and took part in a two-part BBC documentary on gender stereotyping in primary schools, which is now widely used in teacher training material.
She has spoken at the Sydney Opera House and the UK Hay Festival, and delivered keynote addresses to the UK’s Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Government’s Gender Equality Unit and the EU Commission. She is a member of Speakers4schools and regularly addresses secondary schools on brain-based topics, including sex differences.
- How a Gendered World makes a Gendered Brain. Drawing on new insights from 21st century neuroscience, this talk explores centuries-old ideas on the differences between the brains and behaviour of females and males. Can brain scientists actually tell the differences between female and male brains? Are females and males distinguished by their empathy and map-reading? Gina offers answers that might surprise you.
- The Neuroscience of Diversity and Inclusivity: Why Plastic Brains aren’t breaking through Glass Ceilings. Gina explores the long historical debate around the ‘biology is destiny’ mantra that legitimises differences in gender roles and undermines diversity and inclusion initiatives. In this talk, Gina outlines how 21st century neuroscience has revealed the power of the outside world in shaping our brains, including toxic stereotypes and unwelcoming organisational climates that undermine individual expectations and achievements.
- Women in Science: Where have all the Young Girls Gone? Since the 18th / 19th centuries, there has been a powerful undercurrent that women ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’ science – including the 21st Century Gender Equality Paradox in which countries with the smallest gaps in gender equity tend to have greater under-representation of women in science. In this talk, Gina examines how brain and behaviour can be affected by gendered stereotypes that lead to self-fulfilling prophecies of under-performance and dis-engagement. She indicates how individuals and organisations can build defences against negative influences and ensure the success of diversity and inclusivity initiatives
- Baby brains: Pink, Blue or Fifty Shades of Grey Matter? In this talk, Gina explores brain myths and matters in the controversial world of sex and baby brains. Are we playing out a predetermined biological script, or are we looking at the brain-changing effects of a gendered world?
- Neurosexism and NeuroTrash in Science: Misinformation and disinformation in sex differences research. Is Feminist Science the Answer? Fixed beliefs in differences between ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains can narrow and distort the research process. The issue is not only the misunderstandings arising from poor public communication of such research but also poor scientific practice on the part of scientists themselves. From the questions asked, to the methodology selected and the analytical pipeline, the ‘Hunt the Sex Difference’ agenda has powerfully informed the interpretation of results and the ‘spin’ used in the public communication of such research.