Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Truth About Girls and Boys: A Book Review

About The Book:

  • "Pink and Blue " brains are a myth.  Major new studies conclude that there is "surprisingly little evidence of sex differences in children's brains."
  • It's not true that boys have brain structures that girls don't possess, allowing them to be better at math and science. A flood of new research debunks the idea that girls are not "wired" to do well at math.
  • Boys are not the "non-verbal" sex. There is no reason they should be given dumbed-down   "informational texts" to read instead of the classics or other challenging material. There are virtually no differences in verbal abilities between girls and boys.
  • It's not true that boys' higher levels of testosterone cause them to strive for dominance and exhibit more aggression and competition. From 7 months to 7 years of age, levels of testosterone do not differ in boys and girls.
  • Mothers overestimate how much their male toddlers will choose risky behavior, and underestimate their toddler girls' desire to take risks. They tend to overprotect girls.
  • We underestimate boys' caring natures. Research finds that boys and girls are equally capable of nurturing behavior, but parents often steer boys away from caring for younger siblings, assuming they can't do it. They rob boys of important opportunities to care and be cared for.
  • Boy babies are not biologically programmed to focus on objects, predisposing them to math and understanding systems; nor are girl babies programmed to focus on people and feelings. Male and female infants respond equally to people and objects. 
  • Girls and boys are aware of gender stereotypes early, even before they can speak.  By two, they are well versed in what's "appropriate" behavior for males and females.
  • There is no such thing as a "boy" or "girl" learning style. No scientific justification exists for segregating children by sex in public schools
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett are widely praised for their analysis of women, men, and society. Their "uncommon storytelling grace" led the Boston Globe to name their book,Same Difference: How Gender Myths Harm Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs, one of the best of 2004. The New York Times has called Barnett "one of the researchers who is re-drawing the map of women's psychology," and the New York Review of Books has commended their confronting of public policy "with less superstition and sentimentality than is currently the case."

The Truth About Girls and Boys tackles a new, troubling trend in the theorizing about gender: that the learning styles, brain development, motivation, cognitive and spatial abilities, and "natural" inclinations of boys and girls are so different, they require completely different styles of parenting and education. Ignoring the science that challenges these claims, those who promote such theories make millions, frightening parents and educators into enforcing old stereotypes and reviving unhealthy attitudes in the classroom. Rivers and Barnett unmake the pseudoscientific rationale for this argument, stressing the individuality of each child and the uniqueness of his or her talents and desires. They recognize that in our culture, boys and girls encounter different stimuli and experiences, but encouraging children to venture outside their comfort zones keeps them from falling into old, fossilized gender roles that can suffocate their potential. Educating parents, teachers, and general readers in the true nature of the gender game, Rivers and Barnett help future generations transform if not transcend the parameters of sexual difference.

About The Authors:

Caryl Rivers is professor of Journalism at the College of Communication at Boston University. A nationally known author and journalist, she was awarded the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished achievement in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Rosalind Barnett is a senior scientist at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. Her pioneering research on workplace issues and family life in America has been sponsored by major federal grants, and her she is often invited to lecture at major venues in the United States and abroad.  

My Review:

A fascinating read into the world of gender, play, and education that needs to be read. The book is full of statistics and scientific jargon, but is still very easy to read and understand. As I read, I was quite astonished that people still gender-type "boys toys/girl's toys and activities" as much as they do. I really thought that society had gotten past this, but ironically no it has not. The books stance is that gender differences are very much a societal and cultural impacted issue and I very much agree. 

 The book was a great reminder that boys and girls need to be encouraged to come out of their comfort zones in order to reach their full potential and learn new concepts and ideas. 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase The Truth About Girls and Boys on Amazon

***I received a complimentary electronic copy of this book, courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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