The story comes to us from the Daily Mail. Where else? Before you begin scoffing, I will add that the research was conducted at Stanford University. It was published in a serious academic journal, called Depression and Anxiety.
The researchers wanted to study the different ways that the brains of boys and girls react to severe stress. While no one seems to want to say it, the question points at a significant biological difference between the sexes.
The difference concerns a part of the brain responsible for feelings and action, called the insula. Wikipedia offers an explanation of its function:
The insulae are believed to be involved in consciousness and play a role in diverse functions usually linked to emotion or the regulation of the body's homeostasis. These functions include perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience. In relation to these, it is involved in psychopathology.
They discovered that when boys and girls are exposed to stress the girls’ insulae shrink while the boys’ insulae grow.
The Daily Mail reports:
Girls react differently to stress because it changes parts of their brain, new research suggests.
Traumatic situations cause the section of their brain responsible for feelings and actions - known as the insula - to shrink.
Whereas stress has the opposite effect on boys, causing theirs to grow.
Among the consequences, researchers believe that girls who are exposed to more stress might age more quickly and experience puberty earlier. Thus, that the stress is more damaging for them than for boys. And girls will have more difficulty dealing with certain kinds of extreme stress than boys.
Does this not tell us that men and women in the military probably react differently to extremely stressful situations? Thus, that women are more likely to be traumatized and more likely to have more difficulty functioning than men. The problem lies in the brain, not in a social construct.