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Gender and Geography

If you can't get there from here, it may have a lot to do with your gender and the directions you're using. Women tend to rely on landmarks ("Turn right at the gas station"), but men tend to use abstract strategies tied to compass points and exact distances ("Go north 1.2 miles and turn west"). What's more, each sex has trouble switching gears, a University of Saskatchewan study found. It's harder for men to use landmark-based directions and tougher for women to use abstract instructions, says lead author Deborah M. Saucier, Ph.D. The study of 82 students who had to find several destinations appeared in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2002.