Interpersonal sensitivity is much more stereotypically present in women than in men; in essence, they are able to remember people's appearances much more than men do. This particular cognitive ability deals primarily with how accurate or appropriate our perceptions of others are; with respect to this difference between men and woman, discerning people's appearances is where this ability is most centered in this discussion. In modern culture, women are culturally conditioned to care more about appearance, as they are expected to keep up their own appearances in order to attract men. Furthermore, social expectations of female competitiveness cause them to judge other womens' appearances much more harshly, which plays into the perception of them having greater interpersonal sensitivity. Overly sexualized images of women in popular culture, perpetuated by films, television and magazines, place a greater emphasis on appearance and perfection for women than it does for men, and so they are conditioned to look for these things even more (Brannon 2011, Chapter 7, p.,175).
The cognitive ability of recalling appearances is a very important one, as it relates directly to socialization - in our home and work lives, appearance recall and sensitivity is absolutely vital to forming and cementing interpersonal relationships (Mast and Hall, p. 363). However, stereotyping it to this degree creates even further expectations for women that makes them even more sensitive to value judgments about one's appearance. The stereotype that women notice the way you look more might make other women feel more competitive, as they have been socialized to improve their looks to the point where they can avoid scrutiny. Toward that end, placing a less rigorous emphasis on perfection and inordinately high standards on beauty for women might eliminate said insecurity and skewed priority toward appearance over anything else.
You raise some very interesting insights regarding gender and reading comprehension; it seems as though there is a stereotype regarding gender that it is shameful or emasculating for men to pursue intelligence (Mast and Hall, 2006). As a result, they are discouraged from reading books, as they might be chastised for not engaging in stereotypically "male" activities. To read is to be more feminine, which is heavily discouraged in male socialization; physical prowess and bravado are much more valued - which you accurately attribute to the stereotype threat (Brannon, Ch. 7). I know that, during the times male friends of mine would pick up a book and read as a child, they would get made fun of while other boys would play basketball and play on the playground without end. They still engaged in those activities, but when they read it was as if they had never asserted my masculinity in their lives.
You also make a very good point about intelligence, as it does seem that neither gender is overtly conditioned to be "smart," frankly; while men are supposed to be tough, women are supposed to be demure and attractive (Nassar et al., 2008). While both sexes have social conditioning that makes intelligence seem undesirable, there is still the perception that men are smarter than women (Mast and Hall, 2006). Do you think that this perception deals with overt academic intelligence, or is it meant in terms of practicality, or 'street smarts'? In my experience, men are considered smart and desirable when they have a great deal of practical experience and are assertive about said knowledge; academics are considered inherently feminine. How do these opposing stereotypes work with or against each other to create the types of socialization and stereotyping that we see today?
Brannon, L. (2011). Gender: Psychological perspectives (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Mast, M.S., and Hall, J.A. (2006). Women's advantage at remembering others' appearance: a systematic look at the why and when of a gender difference. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 32: 353.
Nassar, R., Singhal, S., & Abouchedid, K. (2008). Gender Differences on Self-Estimates of Multiple Intelligences: A Comparison Between Indian and Lebanese Youth. Journal of Social Science 16(3), 235-243.