Battle of the Sex Differences: Where to begin?

Professor Cordelia Fine is an academic and writer. Her work analyses scientific and popular biological explanations of behavioural sex differences and workplace gender inequalities, explores the effects of gender-related attitudes and biases on judgements and decision-making, and contributes to debates about workplace gender equality. She is the author of three popular science books, published in 13 languages. Among other accolades, her most recent book, Testosterone Rex (2017, Norton) won the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.

In recognition of her work on the understanding of gender stereotypes, challenging gender perceptions and contributions to public discourse to close the gender gap, Cordelia Fine was awarded the 2018 Edinburgh Medal by the City of Edinburgh Council, to honour men and women of science who have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.

Cordelia Fine is a professor in the History & Philosophy of Science programme in the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. More information about her work is available at

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Date & Time

August 25, 2023

5:30 - 7:00pm


Ingkarni Wardli, The University of Adelaide   
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2023 Fay Gale Lecture: Presented by Professor Cordelia Fine

Battle of the Sex Differences: Where to begin?

Date: Friday 25 August
Time: 5.30 – 7.00pm AEST
: Ingkarni Wardli, The University of Adelaide
Livestream available

When it comes to the question of why there are gender differences in behaviour – where to begin? According to Social Role Theory, the most basic cause is social structure. But for Evolutionary Psychologists, the causal arrow starts instead with sex-specific evolved psychological mechanisms. Advocates of the Evolutionary Psychology framework accuse Social Role Theory of being a “blank slate” approach that ignores biology and evolution – potentially misdirecting policymakers concerned with gender disparities. This lecture explores the debate.

The Fay Gale Lecture is named in honour of the late Professor Gwendoline Fay Gale AO (1932–2008), the first female President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and an eminent human geographer well known for her contributions to the advancement of women within academia, Indigenous studies and juvenile justice. The lecture, inaugurated in 2010, is presented each year by a distinguished female social scientist and is open to the public. This lecture is jointly hosted by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Fay Gale Centre for Research on Gender.

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