To me, one of the hallmarks of nerdishness is a cognitive tendency toward being "object-oriented," as opposed to seeing things in context. I consider object-orientation a masculine mental trait, in some ways the opposite of women's intuition, where a woman processes a variety of clues to come to a holistic insight, typically about social relationships.
I've also argued that East Asians tend to be more masculine-minded than white Americans on average, as shown by having higher SAT Math relative to SAT Verbal scores and being good engineers, and the like.
On the other hand, Robert Nisbett, who has researched East Asian thinking patterns, says they are less object-oriented than white Americans (with East Asian-Americans falling in between) and more context-oriented. Razib reported on GNXP in 2003:
I just read Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought. You can read a summary of the book here as a press release from the University of Michigan. The critiques that some of the readers over at Amazon make about the book are spot-on, Nisbett has a collection of studies that he bandies about, which reinforces stereotypes and preconceptions about "Asian thinking" vs. "Western thinking."
·The West is reductionist, the East is holistic
·The East is accepts contradiction, the West must be consistent
·The West focuses on the object, the East observers the context
...and so forth. This is a recapitulation of tried & true generalizations. But I think Nisbett does us a service by showing that psychological tests have indicated quite clearly that these trends are true.
In 1991's Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia also argued that object-orientation is a Western tendency, comparing the European knight in shining armor to the Japanese samurai's much more organic-looking armor.
Perhaps these different mental orientations explain why, say, American engineers are better at inventing big breakthroughs, while Japanese engineers are better at integrating all the pieces into smoothly working systems? At least, that's what the Japanese seem to believe...