Why Gender Matters

Why Gender Matters

What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences

Book - 2005
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Are boys and girls really that different? Twenty years ago, doctors and researchers didn't think so. Back then, most experts believed that differences in how girls and boys behave are mainly due to differences in how they were treated by their parents, teachers, and friends. It's hard to cling to that belief today. An avalanche of research over the past twenty years has shown that sex differences are more significant and profound than anybody guessed. Sex differences are real, biologically programmed, and important to how children are raised, disciplined, and educated. InWhy Gender Matters, psychologist and family physician Dr. Leonard Sax leads parents through the mystifying world of gender differences by explaining the biologically different ways in which children think, feel, and act. He addresses a host of issues, including discipline, learning, risk taking, aggression, sex, and drugs, and shows how boys and girls react in predictable ways to different situations. For example, girls are born with more sensitive hearing than boys, and those differences increase as kids grow up. So when a grown man speaks to a girl in what he thinks is a normal voice, she may hear it as yelling. Conversely, boys who appear to be inattentive in class may just be sitting too far away to hear the teacher--especially if the teacher is female. Likewise, negative emotions are seated in an ancient structure of the brain called the amygdala. Girls develop an early connection between this area and the cerebral cortex, enabling them to talk about their feelings. In boys these links develop later. So if you ask a troubled adolescent boy to tell you what his feelings are, he often literally cannot say. Dr. Sax offers fresh approaches to disciplining children, as well as gender-specific ways to help girls and boys avoid drugs and early sexual activity. He wants parents to understand and work with hardwired differences in children, but he also encourages them to push beyond gender-based stereotypes. A leading proponent of single-sex education, Dr. Sax points out specific instances where keeping boys and girls separate in the classroom has yielded striking educational, social, and interpersonal benefits. Despite the view of many educators and experts on child-rearing that sex differences should be ignored or overcome, parents and teachers would do better to recognize, understand, and make use of the biological differences that make a girl a girl, and a boy a boy.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday : 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385510738
038551073X
Characteristics: 312 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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jeremycarroll
Aug 17, 2017

This is a bad book of bad science.

The same content, if presented honestly as the author’s opinions and hypotheses, would make a thought-provoking exploration of the benefits of single-sex education, amongst other issues.
Unfortunately rather than well-established scientific facts, the author is presenting contentious hypotheses based on a minority interpretation of raw data (see, for example, Lise Eliot in The Trouble with Sex Differences, Neuron , Volume 72, Issue 6). Overall, this critique damns the book as pseudo-science. The reader has to remain on guard throughout to this all-pervasive defect, if not to be drawn in to a potentially erroneous way of thinking. I have requested that San Francisco library withdraw this book for this reason, or at least put a thoughtful warning in the beginning.

The structure of the main argument of the book is as follows:

- in chapter 2, Dr Sax presents various research results from the literature which demonstrate: “Today we know that innate differences between girls and boys are profound”. These results, if true, are fascinating ideas and act as the foundation for the whole book. Mark Liberman, goes through much of Sax’s claims in detail (see, for example, Liberman on Sax on Liberman on Sax on hearing). It appears clear that Sax significantly overstates the strength of his claims.

- in the remainder studies of gender differences, in bigger children, are assumed to be based on innate factors not developmental influences, and Dr Sax’s prescriptions have their foundation in this assumption. It is hard work to always remember that he is stating his opinion, masquerading as fact, and sometimes that opinion is worth hearing, and sometimes his suggestions for how to treat boys and girls differently may help; but the utility of this book is totally undermined by the weakness of the scientific foundations and I recommend avoiding it.

e
emilydickinson
Sep 17, 2016

A very important read esp in Seattle w/agenda of teaching gender roles/flexibility to children as young as 5. VIP for women, many of whom have become stressed & anxious about using public restrooms.Must-read for teachers, parents & esp legislators, who cave to $-& force little girls to shower next to naked male strangers, encourage educators to confuse innocent children with questionable social doctrine (concerning at-most 3/1000 transgender people) & insist we accept dubious social & cultural experimentation involving children's/women's safety and privacy.

victoriapareja Nov 14, 2011

A must read book for anyone raising or teaching children.

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