Studies of infants have shown that neurologically, there isn't much difference between boys' and girls' capacity for empathy. Yet, according to neuroscientists, because girls are allowed to express their emotions, their ability to identify and understand both their own and others' emotions cultivates their empathetic skills beyond those of boys'.
Continuing into young boyhood, Stanford professor Judy Chu argues in her recent book When Boys Become Boys that it is culture rather than nature that incapacitates boys' social and emotional skills. Chu observed during her two-year study of six 4 and 5-year old boys--the age at which boys generally disconnect emotionally and relationally--that the boys were very astute at reading their and others' emotions. They also knew how to cultivate meaningful relationships, which they strongly desired.
...Way points out that social disconnectedness is prevalent throughout American society. She cites research that found the percentage of adults who have no close friends increased from 36 percent in 1985 to 53 percent in 2004 and argues that
it is our culture that distorts both boys' and girls' natural capacity for empathy and emotionally intimate friendships.
Via Edwin Rutsch