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 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,174 ratings  ·  346 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...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Harmony (first published February 15th 2005)
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Lara
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
Heather McCubbin
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
Aaron
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
Lyn
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...more
Audrey
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...more
Kaethe
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.
Norma Jesus
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
Elizabeth
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...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...more
Jared
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
Bridget
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...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...more
Lorna
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...more
Elizabeth
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
Eric Rasmussen
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...more
Carissa
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
Deirdre
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
Brenda
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...more
Megan D. Neal
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
Mel
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...more
Hannah
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
Sariah
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
Laurie
Fascinating read about the true, physical differences between the male and female brain and the effects that has on behavior and learning.
I admit I didn't finish it because I got a little bored toward the end. Or maybe scared is the better word. After I read the chapter on Sex and Drugs I got too freaked out about what my kids will be facing and had to find a fluffy book to read next.
Amanda
The beginning of the book gets four stars; the rest of the book gets two. I found the factual information both interesting and relevant. I found the opinions Sax expresses to be less-so. And, I found the section on 'The Anomalous Male' to be rather disturbing, and particularly closed-minded.
Teri
Really compelling evidence for how girls and boys learn differently. The chapter about sexuality was enough to scare the pants off me. I'm convinced chaste girls would change the world. . .
Dellory
I REALLY enjoyed this book, though chapter 6 was shockingly true. He made too many generalizations from animal studies, but his human studies were carefully chosen, relevant, and recent.
John
Gender differences are important in order to acknowledge and accept each other's virtues, defects, solutions and problems. There is no greater inequality than to treat the unequals as equals. Females hear better than males. Most females are better at multitasking in domestic tasks and most males at logical problem solving. Men have better spacial sense. Testosterone makes one more aggressive while estrogen makes the other more emotional. This book would help Dominant men and submissive women to...more
Shannon
The author presents dozens of scenarios and conclusions in this book as a case to why we need to rethink education and parenting to better suit the needs of girls and boys. Here are the points that stuck with me:

Girls hear better than boys. Girls are more apt to be distracted by annoying sounds like clicking pens or tapping on desks, which boys often tune out. Girls perceive that male teachers shout at them and boys perceive female teachers to speak too quietly.

Girls like to look at faces. Boys...more
Wangyeoi Tou
Leonard Sax's Why Gender Matters sets out to persuade that biology plays a significant role in how gender works, that we are not born androgynous blank slates that are molded by societal expectations and enculturation alone, and purports to back up his claims with data from scientific studies.

Now, going wherever the evidence leads you to, particularly if it works against your interest is one of the most admirable intellectual endeavors one can embark on - so my intuition was that if it would tur...more
Moira
Yes yes yes...there are things that folks will disagree with in this book (there were many I disagreed with) and there are some areas where the author was clearly veering into opinion rather than the facts and research that otherwise dominate the book.

HOWEVER, I consider something a "must read" when I find myself recommending it time and again or thinking of it repeatedly or thinking about how some of the information actually impacts my decisions. Or even thinking that this book--or something v...more
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Leonard Sax is an American psychologist and family physician. He is the author of Why Gender Matters (Doubleday, 2005) and of Boys Adrift: the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men (Basic Books, 2007). He is founder and executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education (www.singlesexschools.org).

A cover story for TIM...more
More about Leonard Sax...
Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls�Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins

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