There is a great deal of similarity between men and women, and the differences within each gender group are typically as great as or greater than the difference between the two. Many differences are context-dependent: patterns that are clear in one context may be muted, nonexistent or reversed in another, suggesting that they are not direct reflections of invariant sex-specific traits.
If these points were acknowledged, the science soundbites would be headed “Men and women pretty similar, research finds”, and popular psychology books would bear titles like There’s No Great Mystery About the Opposite Sex or We Understand Each Other Well Enough Most of the Time. Of course, these titles do not have the makings of bestsellers, whereas the “men and women are from different planets” story is a tried and tested formula. What does the myth of Mars and Venus do for us, that we return to it again and again?
The genius of the myth of Mars and Venus is to acknowledge the problems many people are now experiencing as a result of social change, while explaining those problems and conflicts in a way that implies they have nothing to do with social change.
Extract in The Guardian