Excerpt from Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Why Gender Matters

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

by Leonard Sax

Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax X
Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2006, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


There would be nothing wrong with teachers diagnosing their students as long as they had the training—and the resources, and adequate time—to distinguish the boy with ADD from the boy who just doesn't hear as well as most girls do. But after talking to dozens of teachers in our county, I didn't find one who was aware of the studies showing that girls hear better than boys.

"You should write a book, Dr. Sax," one of these parents told me. "Write a book so that teachers know about the differences in how girls and boys hear."

I allowed myself a patronizing smile. "I'm sure that there must already be dozens of such books for teachers, and for parents," I said.

"There aren't," she said.

"I'll find some for you," I said.

That conversation took place about seven years ago. Since then I've read lots of popular books about differences between girls and boys. And guess what. That mom was right.

Not only do most of the books currently in print about girls and boys fail to state the basic facts about innate differences between the sexes, many of them promote a bizarre form of political correctness, suggesting that it is somehow chauvinistic even to hint that any innate differences exist between female and male. A tenured professor at Brown University recently published a book in which she claims that the division of the human race into two sexes, female and male, is an artificial invention of our culture. "Nature really offers us more than two sexes," she claims, adding, "Our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits." The decision to "label" a child as a girl or a boy is "a social decision," according to this expert. We should not label any child as being either a girl or a boy, this professor proclaimed. "There is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of difference." This book received courteous mention in the New York Times and the Washington Post. America's most prestigious medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, praised the author for her "careful and insightful" approach to gender.

I soon assembled a small library of best-selling books that counsel parents that the best child-rearing is gender-neutral child-rearing. These books tell parents that true virtue is to be found in training your child to play with toys traditionally associated with the opposite sex. You should buy dolls for your son, to teach him how to nurture. You should buy an Erector set for your daughter. The underlying assumptions—that giving dolls to boys will cause boys to become more nurturing, or that giving girls Erector sets will improve girls' spatial relations skills—are never questioned. In fact, no scientific evidence exists to support the claim that gender-neutral child-rearing has any measurable benefit, regardless of which parameter you measure.

On the same bookshelf you can find books that do affirm the existence of innate differences in how girls and boys learn. But what books! Books with titles like The Wonder of Boys and Girls Will Be Girls promote antiquated and inaccurate gender stereotypes. "Girls are more emotional than boys." "Boys have a brain-based advantage when it comes to learning math." As we'll see, those familiar notions turn out to be false.

On one hand, you have books claiming that there are no innate differences between girls and boys, and that anybody who thinks otherwise is a reactionary stuck in the 1950s. On the other, you have books affirming innate differences between girls and boys—but these authors interpret these differences in a manner which reinforces gender stereotypes.

These books have only one thing in common. They are based less on fact, and more on their authors' personal beliefs or political agenda—either to deny innate sex differences, or to use sex differences in child development as a justification for maintaining traditional sex roles.

Excerpted from Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D. Copyright © 2005 by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Monkey Boy
    Monkey Boy
    by Francisco Goldman
    Francisco Goldman's Monkey Boy exists in the liminal space between memoir and fiction. Like Goldman ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girl in His Shadow
    The Girl in His Shadow
    by Audrey Blake
    The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake is a fast-paced historical novel set in Victorian-era England...
  • Book Jacket: Whereabouts
    Whereabouts
    by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts has seen numerous comparisons to Second Place by Rachel Cusk. These two ...
  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Ariadne
by Jennifer Saint
A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Morningside Heights
    by Joshua Henkin

    A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Who Said...

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.