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Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences
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Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,548 Ratings  ·  406 Reviews
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 sho
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Harmony (first published February 15th 2005)
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Sep 04, 2010 Lara rated it did not like it
Shelves: feminism, yelch
This guy is nothing short of a neo-Nazi. His approach to gender and anthropology belongs in the nineteenth century--and has the same reasoning. For instance, he claims that the sizes of women's and men's brains are what contribute to each respective sex's intellectual inhibitions and/or talents. (i.e., men excell at math because they have larger brains; boys misbehave because they do not hear as well as girls; etc.) The claim that one sex performs better in one academic arena whereas the other s ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jun 10, 2015 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great information here on the current state of brain science with regard to the differences between boys and girls. Some fascinating stuff here. At the same time, Dr. Sax sometimes wanders off into telling some off-the-track pediatrician anecdotes. He also sometimes flinches when giving us the bottom line. He will say something like this: "I don't want to go back to the bad old days of woodworking for boys and home economics for girls. But we need to recognize that our society lost something . . ...more
Heather McCubbin
Apr 06, 2013 Heather McCubbin rated it it was ok
Take what you will from this book. Much of the advice in here is fascinating and some of it true, based upon my own observations of my 2 boys and 1 daughter. However, some of the issues, like anomolous males, irked me. Sax suggests we, as parents, try to stop this behavior if it appears around the age of 3 (anomolous means: likes to play sports that aren't team oriented, associates with more females than males up until puberty--then it's the girls that pull away he says--and these males, suppose ...more
May 08, 2008 Lyn rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. It went into quite a lot of scientific detail of how boys and girls develop DIFFERENTLY. It isn't that boys are "slower" at developing - it is that their brains / eyes / ears develop differently than girls do. The author provides a lot of advice on how to parent and teach boys vs girls (and especially on some difficult topics such as drugs and sex).

My mom would definitely approve on the section on discipline (she teaches middle schoolers and we talk about this topic a lot
Feb 18, 2009 Aaron rated it it was ok
Worth reading, but Sax goes way too far with the gender essentialism arguments. Often he does not provide enough evidence for a reasonable person to agree with him. He also gets too finger-wagging about teenage sexual culture and makes implausible claims about the damage it does. I found myself becoming increasingly skeptical of his claims towards the end of the book. He ends by making an absurd and unconvincing case for gender segregation in K-12 education. The science of gender difference cert ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe marked it as stricken
Bogus. This is very simple: the difference in *average* between male and female is always less than the difference between the *range of normal* for either. [This is the same sort of crap science used to support the ideas behind racism.] If you try and base your parenting or your educating on the average for one gender, you're going to be wrong for the individual most of the time. and if you're going to be wrong most of the time, frankly, it's just easier to have one standard, rather than two.
Jun 19, 2009 Audrey rated it it was ok
I loved Dr. Sax's other book (written after this one), Boys Adrift, but I really didn't care for this one.

The first few chapters WERE really interesting and contained information that the title led me to believe would be found within. Perhaps it is worth reading the book just for these very interesting chapters. But the rest of the book degenerated into a typical parenting book with lots of lectures and opinion, the focus on "difficult" children with "serious" problems.

Dr. Sax makes himself so
Nov 25, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Sax's writing is very clear, interesting and informative. The overall thesis of his book can be summed up in one of the last lines of the book: "Our job now is to create a society that has the courage and the wisdom to cherish and celebrate the innate differences between the sexes while at the same time enabling equal opportunities for every child."

He is a proponent of single-sex education, and his arguments are very convincing. For most of us educating our children within the framework of the A
Jul 07, 2011 Jared rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
This book is phenomenal. The author talks about the emerging research into the fundamental differences between boys and girls. He also debunks a lot of commonly believed false differences. It's really amazing that psychologists and teachers had to go through forty years of unisex philosophy, thinking that boys and girls are different only because we raise them that way, when any parent of more than one gender can tell you that there are very distinct mental and emotional differences between them ...more
Joseph Mirabal
Mar 30, 2015 Joseph Mirabal rated it really liked it
Why Gender Matters Review

Why Gender Matters is a non-fiction book written by Lenard Sax. In it he explains that the innate differences between girls and boys are a result of different genetics. Sax emphasizes that boys and girls each have different needs and respond differently to various approaches in teaching and punishment. His book goes into these differences and explains how one can best deal with their child based on sex.

Sax believes that female and male brains are wired differently and
Jul 14, 2010 Lorna rated it it was amazing
If you are a current or future teacher, current or future parent, or someone who may interact with children or the opposite sex on occasion, this book is for you. It systematically debunks those gender stereotypes that are not supported by research, while asserting the gender differences that are due to physiological disparities.

After reading this book, you will never tell your daughter (or another young girl) she's not likely to be as good at math as boys her age. After reading this book, you
Norma Jesus
Jul 23, 2008 Norma Jesus rated it really liked it
The author, a family physician and psychologist, cites numerous studies and his own experience to support his assertions. There is so much food for thought in this book, all very interesting, some terrifying. I'm really glad I read this book, even if I didn't believe everything in it, and I plan to read his next one as well. It's worth reading even for those without children. Covers how we as a society raise and educate our children based on what we believe about gender and what common beliefs m ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Lesli rated it really liked it
My friend recommended this book to me and it was beyond interesting to me. Four years later, it finally clicked why my oldest child who loves school, hated kindergarten. He loved preschool and loved first grade but not kindie. Why because he had a soft spoken teacher who wanted him to describe colors and read fiction and sit still. He does so good with loud teachers who allow him to stand at his desk instead of sit in a chair. But yet my daughter who always struggled in preschool thrived in kind ...more
Jeff Yoak
I really wanted this book to be good. The first few chapters were extremely good and i had high hopes. It already had me thinking this would be one of the more influential books for me on understanding children and such, and already had me insisting that Kate read it and talking about it with other people.

Then the rest of the book happened.

The author broaches the taboo subject that males and females might be intrinsically different, not just different by cultural training, choice, etc., in basic
Aug 12, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: family, 2010
This book started out so promising... The author says that it his goal to not make any statements on the differences between boys and girls without referencing a peer reviewed journal article. He believes that there are differences between boys and girls but that shouldn't be used to justify outdated gender stereotypes. The first 4 or 5 chapters were good. I thought wow, i can't wait to see how our understanding of the differences between boys and girls will change in the next 20 years. At this ...more
Nov 19, 2011 Carissa rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book. So much of what this author wrote seemed to click in my mind and made sense. I now think differently about how boys and girls learn and the advantages of all-girls (or boys) schools. I know that this will effect how I raise my son. I loved the authors sample lesson for boys and girls. The girls' one definitely had me more interested! It makes me wonder if I would have liked science and math better if I would have been taught with a more girl-friendly approach. There ...more
Alissa Thorne
The Good

Why Gender Matters does an excellent job of presenting taboo subject mater with well laid out arguments backed by evidence. The premise of the book is summed up well in this passage from one of the appendages: "A central argument for this book is that for the past three decades, the influence of social and cognitive factors on gender traits has been systematically overestimated while the innate factors have been neglected."

This is a difficult subject to tackle without coming across as a
Feb 03, 2014 Mel rated it did not like it
Shelves: for-class
Blech. I wish I hadn't assigned this, I knew it had an essentialist position (boys and girls are different, so they should be treated as though they're different) but I had no idea this guy was so lacking in logic or critical thinking. His conclusions are farfetched based on the evidence he provides, and he offers trite 'examples' which sound absolutely as stereotypical as possible, highlighting how absolutely different girls and boys (and men and women) can be...
I had no idea boys had to kill a
Mar 08, 2011 Hannah rated it did not like it
Complete and utter drivel. Sax jumped from an interesting hypothesis: biological differences between the sexes matter to how we teach and parent kids to a gender essentialist platform filled with his own prejudices and speculation. Choice gems include an endorsement of spanking (for boys only!), advice to avoid rape by never letting your daughter date someone more than three years older, and getting your sensitive son involved in team sports before age three or he may be condemned to being a "mi ...more
May 15, 2008 Sariah rated it did not like it
I decided to read this because Sax's work was referenced in a very good NY Times Magazine article about single sex education...I am glad to be informed of Sax's views, but I do not agree with many of them. For example, Sax would view Owen as an "anomalous male" because he loves to cook and bake, and would encourage us as parents to deprive him of opportunities to be in the kitchen and instead sign him up for football, preferably tackle. This is in order to prevent "problems" for him in life late ...more
Claire Dix
Mar 30, 2015 Claire Dix rated it liked it
To my extreme frustration, the main thing I took away from this book was a reminder that life is not fair, all they way down to the cellular structure of our eyes. This is the first book I can remember that has made me truly angry at life, society, and the world in general. I had to take a break from reading it for a couple days because I needed to cool down and remind myself that it wasn't the end of the world.

Why Gender Matters is broken up into different aspects of a child's/teenager's life.
Mar 30, 2014 Bridget rated it did not like it
I am going to write this review by taking this book on its word that the scientific research is accurate (that is another debate) - even with that assumption the arguments and conclusions made are very troubling and problematic:

- Contrary opinions are presented as straw men, despite having their own scientific research to back them up.
- The first few chapters use peer reviewed scientific studies, but the book quickly turns to anecdotal evidence ("a principal told me that children's books are dom
Eric Rasmussen
Feb 06, 2013 Eric Rasmussen rated it it was ok
I was terribly conflicted on how to rate this book. Because the more negative feelings won out in the two star rating, I will start with the negatives.

First, the author claims at the beginning that he will be using "science" to prove his case that biologically-based gender differences create many of the stereotypes and gender-based issues that our society and educational systems are struggling with. That claim is misleading, as the author's true purpose is to deliver his advice on child-rearing
Oct 29, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
This is a must read book for anyone who has or works with children. I picked it up after hearing it recommended by Andrew Pudewa, in one of his talks on boys. Being a homeschooling mom with three sons, I wanted to know how they [boys] think and learn. I learned somethings I need to practice with both my boys and my daughter. That DH and I should find time for him to take the boys and build -- or break -- something. That my boys need authoritative discipline, while with my daughter I should empha ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Deirdre rated it it was ok
This book was a mixed bag. I agree that gender matters and I found the biological explorations grounded in solid research on such things as, for one example, how male and female eyes are structurally different such that males detect movement and nuance of darker colors, and girls detect fine nuances of gradations of color, and on average this is evident in their art work at young ages. And other such fascinating biological examples with solid research behind it. On the OTHER hand, he makes so ma ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Cantfind rated it did not like it
The problem with this book's scientific repertoire is that it is very selective.
Moreover, it only briefly explains what an experiment was about - often omitting the actual procedures or how many participants were included and only gave a partial result (the mean means nothing without the standard deviation, and the standard deviation is enough only if the distribution is gaussian).
There was a good review of this book's "scientific" reports in the Language Log, written by prof. Mark Liberman.
Apr 19, 2010 Brenda rated it really liked it
I'm giving it 4 stars now instead of 3 because I keep referring to it in conversations, meaning that it's stuck with me. And I keep insisting that people read it.

I did finish this book and except for the chapter on sex, I liked it, probably because I agree with most of what was presented. Apparently, I've somewhat bought into the gender-neutralizing of society and tried to raise my children following portions of that precept. Thank goodness for church programs (and a husband) that "puts to sile
Inhabiting Books
I read this one on the recommendation of a speaker at the last homeschool convention I attended. The book discusses the differences in the male and female brains and the author draws some conclusions about the ramifications of those differences. I'm not sure what I feel about it. I think that the common trend for gender-sameness in public schools is problematic, especially for boys. (By "gender-sameness" I mean the idea that there are no physiological or chemical differences -besides the obvious ...more
Dan Franklin
May 06, 2016 Dan Franklin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a really helpful book, especially as a parent. The author tends to keep it pretty objective with scientific research instead of basing his conclusions on some sort of idealism. He believes that we are missing the mark on doing what's best for our kids by becoming a "gender-blind" society.
Really worth the read!
Nov 03, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: life-skills
Some notes:

Brain organized differently in males & females: girls hear better than boys, have more P cells, guys more M cells in eyes
Boys enjoy more than girls risk-taking, simply for the thrill of risk-taking - the danger gives a pleasant tingle, + boys tend to overestimate their abilities, girls to underestimate
Girls use cerebral cortex (used for interacting with world, language, …) for spatial tasks, guys the hippocampus. Ex:women use landmark cues when giving directions, guys compass dire
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Leonard Sax is an American psychologist and family physician. He is the author of Why Gender Matters (Doubleday, 2005; revised edition to be published in 2017); Boys Adrift: the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men (Basic Books, 2007; revised edition, 2016); Girls on the Edge (Basic Books, 2010); and The Collapse of Parenting (Basic Books, 2015 ...more
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