From The Memsahib: Book Review of “Why Gender Matters”

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

During the years that I was growing up, parents were told that boys and girls were the same. Supposedly it was only the stereotypical way the children were treated that made girls bad at math and boys aggressive. If children were treated just the same, girls would excel at the sciences and boys would be able to express their feelings. In Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, using 20 years of research documents how sex differences are significant and profound.

I found this book fascinating and I would recommend it to all teachers and parents, especially to parents with children that are having difficulty in school. I learned that boys do not hear as well as girls. Many boys have difficulty hearing their soft spoken female teachers and are labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In the majority of the cases a diagnosis of ADD is made by the teacher–not a doctor!

One study cited showed that newborn girls were pre-wired to be attracted to faces while boys were twice as likely to prefer a moving object. A study of the cells that make up male and female eyes showed a profound difference. Female eyes are best adapted to detect color and texture while males eyes are best adapted to detect location, direction, and speed.

In the chapter entitled “School” Dr. Sax shows how gender-blind education is harmful to girls as well as boys. He states, “there is no difference in what girls and boys can learn. But there are big differences in the best way to teach them.” Then he goes on to give examples of how teaching methods can be used to best teach boys and girls.

Because of the difference between the male and female brain and the difference in there stages of development girls and boys should be disciplined differently. Dr. Sax lays out age appropriate and gender appropriate methods. Three chapters in this book are about Drugs, Sex, and Homosexuality. A bit of it is graphic. But even though the topics are disturbing and the material shocking, I still feel the information in these chapter was worth reading to understand the culture of today’s youth and the pressures they are likely to experience from their peers. I found this book at our local library. If your library does not have it, you can likely get it through inter-library loan. I especially recommend this book to parents, and I wish it was required reading for teachers!