Understanding Differences
Between Men and Women – Part I

By: Bradley Coates
Special to the
Oahu Island News

The University of Hawaii Press will publish a second edition of my award-winning book, “Divorce with Decency: The Complete How-To Handbook and Survivor’s Guide to the Legal, Emotional, Economic, and Social Issues” later this year. Accordingly, I spent much of last year revising and fully updating the text.

One area I wanted to emphasize is the basic biological differences between men and women, especially as they impact each gender’s thought processes and communication styles and their way of relating to one another. If my clients and readers can better understand these issues, it may give them a better shot at solving some of the many problems which inevitably arise in marriages and other relationships.

I have found two excellent books to be particularly illuminating on this issue. The first is so well-known that it has achieved near legendary status: Dr. John Gray’s, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. The other is a less well-known but equally insightful book, Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, by Barbara and Allan Pease. The Pease book is more “science-based” and focuses upon the neurology of the human brain and on evolutionary biology.

The following admittedly over-simplified and generalized synopsis outlines many of the Peases’ findings regarding key biological differences between the genders.


A woman’s brain has more of a crucial connective tissue called corpus callosum, which increases the connections between her left and right brain hemispheres by 30 percent over males. Women’s brains are configured for multi-tasking and can do several unrelated things at the same time. Women tend to think out loud, often in a multi-track, indirect, emotive fashion. They are great talkers. They need and love to talk. If a woman is talking to you a lot, she likes you. If she’s not talking to you, you’re in trouble.

A man’s smaller corpus callosum means that he is less able to perform multiple functions simultaneously. In particular, his emotions are less likely to operate simultaneously with other functions. Men maintain a more direct, single-minded focus. Men speak less, often talking silently to themselves.

Women’s emotion centers are spread widely throughout both her brain hemispheres. Men’s emotions are limited to two primary areas, located in his right hemisphere.

Women have specific areas for speech and language located on both sides of their brains. Men use primarily their left brain for language, speech and vocabulary.

Women have dominant verbal, organizational, multi-tasking and communication skills. Men have strong spacial ability (evolved from skills required for hunters chasing animals).

The left side of young girls’ brains develops more rapidly. This means girls will start speaking earlier than boys. A 3-year-old girl has twice the vocabulary of 3-year-old boy and it is 100 percent comprehensible. Boys develop the right side of their brain faster than girls. This gives boys better spatial, logical and perceptual skills. They see in three dimensions and are better at video games ... this, despite their limited brain locations for speech.

Men have around 4 billion more brain cells than women, but women rate 3 percent higher in general intelligence than men, despite having slightly smaller brains.

Girls do better and faster. In school, they succeed in language, English and the arts. Boys do better at math, science, building, puzzles, problem solving, reading maps and navigation. Boys who are good at math outnumber girls by 13 to 1.


Female awareness is focused on communication, cooperation, harmony, love, sharing and our relationship to one another. Male awareness is concerned with getting results, achieving goals, status and power, beating the competition and getting efficiently to the bottom line.

Women define their own self-worth by the quality of their relationships, whereas men define themselves by their work and accomplishments.

Girls like people. Girls’ brains are wired to respond to people and faces. Boys like things. Boys’ brains respond to objects and their shapes.

Women value relationships and talk when stressed. Men value work, hate to be wrong and clam up when stressed. They also love to “hang with the boys”, tend to hide their emotions and hate advice. Women love shopping, are faithful, fall “out” of love, can’t separate love from sex. Men hate shopping, are promiscuous, fall “in” love and easily separate sex from love.

Women need monogamy and use first names (“Mitzie Dearest”) to increase closeness. Men avoid commitment and use nicknames (“Hey butthead...yes, you, numbskull”) to avoid intimacy. Women like people and cooperate. Men like things and compete.

Seventy to 80 percent of women say the most important priority is their families. Seventy to 80 percent of men say that the most important part of their lives is their work.

Eighty percent of relationships are ended by women. Ninety percent of affairs are initiated by men.

Bradley A. Coates, J.D., has been a practicing divorce attorney in Honolulu for over 25 years. He has been selected as Honolulu’s Best Divorce Lawyer and is the founder of Coates & Frey, Hawaii’s largest family law firm. Mr. Coates wrote an award winning book entitled, “Divorce with Decency: The Complete How-To Handbook and Survivor’s Guide to the Legal, Emotional, Economic, and Social Issues.” This article contains “general” information, readers should not take any actions based on this “summarized” information. Instead, appropriate experts should be consulted. Phone: 524-4854. Website: www.coatesandfrey.com.