Leonard Sax Why Gender Matters Essay

Why Gender Matters (2nd Edition, 2017)

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

Leonard Sax MD PhD

A revised and updated edition (with more than 70% new material) of the classic book about innate differences between boys and girls and how best to parent and teach girls and boys successfully, with new chapters on sexual orientation and on transgender and intersex kids.

Back in 2005, the first edition of Why Gender Matters broke ground in illuminating the differences between boys and girls--how they perceive the world differently, how they learn differently, how they process emotions and take risks differently. Dr. Sax argued that in failing to recognize these hardwired differences between boys and girls, we ended up reinforcing damaging stereotypes, medicalizing misbehavior, and failing to help kids to reach their full potential. In the intervening decade, the world has changed, with an avalanche of new research which supports, deepens, and expands Dr. Sax's work. This revised and updated edition includes new findings about how boys and girls interact differently with social media and video games; a new discussion of research on gender non-conforming, LGB, and transgender kids, new findings about how girls and boys see differently, hear differently, and even smell differently; and new material about the medicalization of misbehavior.

Bio:

Leonard Sax MD PhD graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the age of 19, and then went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned both a PhD in psychology, and an MD. He completed a 3-year residency in family practice in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For 19 years, Dr. Sax was a practicing family physician in Maryland, just outside Washington DC. He now sees patients in West Chester, Pennsylvania (west of Philadelphia). In 2005, Doubleday published his first book Why Gender Matters; an updated edition will be published in August 2017. His second book, Boys Adrift, was published in 2007. His third book Girls on the Edge was published in 2010. His most recent book The Collapse of Parenting was published by Basic Books in December 2015 and became a New York Times bestseller.

Dr. Sax has spoken on issues of child and adolescent development not only in the United States but also in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland. He has visited more than 400 schools since 2001. He has appeared on the TODAY Show, CNN, National Public Radio, Fox News, PBS, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, New Zealand Television, and many other national and international media.

For more information about Dr. Sax, or to contact him, please visit www.leonardsax.com.

Book Summary

Dr. Sax explores the psychological and physiological differences between boys and girls, and the role these differences play in how children are raised, disciplined, and educated.

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.

In Why 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.

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DIFFERENCES

We're entering a new period in science, in which the rewards will come less from the breakthrough investigations of individual scientists than from fitting together the pieces of research to see what it all means . . . Social and biological insights are leaping together, part of a large and complex jigsaw puzzle to which the contributions of many sciences are essential.

--Shelley Taylor, professor of psychology, UCLA, 20021

Matthew turned five years old the summer before kindergarten started. He was looking forward to it. From what he had heard, kindergarten sounded like just one long play date with friends. He could hardly wait. So his mother, Cindy, was surprised when, in October, Matthew started refusing to go to school, refusing even to get dressed in the morning. More than once, Cindy had to dress him, carry him writhing and thrashing into the car, and then drag him from the car into the school. She decided to investigate. She sat in on his ...

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