Author : George John Romanes (1848-1894)

Title : Mental Differences Between Men and Women (1887)

Keywords: Darwin, Women’s movement, education, natural selection

Pages : Intro 9


The first half of Romanes’ article provides an outline of some of Darwin’s arguments concerning secondary sexual as well as the psychological differences between the male and female of animal species, which he then proceeds to explore in relation to the human sexes. There follows a conservative account of male achievement and intellectual prowess and female sensitivity – with regard to judgement ‘there can be no real question that the female mind stands considerably below the male’. The characteristic feminine virtues are born of weakness, the characteristic male virtues are born of strength. However the second half of this article goes a step further and brings these justifications from natural science to bear on the burgeoning issue of female higher education. Although Romanes accepts that the women’s movement is here to stay, and wishes to champion their education, he conceives this as a general broadening of the mind – it is misguided to think that women can rival men on their own natural terrain.

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