Monday, May 28, 2018

Why Gender Matters - Leonard Sax

Title: Why Gender Matters: Who Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Science of Sex Differences
Author: Leonard Sax
Publisher: Harmony Books, 2017 (Second Edition) (Paperback)
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Adult; Parenting
Started: May 21, 2018
Finished: May 25, 2018

From the back cover:

When first published in 2005, Why Gender Matters broke ground in illuminating differences between boys and girls - how they perceive the world, learn, process emotions, and take risks. Dr. Sax showed that when we overlook their differences, we may end up reinforcing damaging stereotypes and fail to help our kids reach their full potential.

In the years since, the world has changed. An avalanche of new research supports, deepens, and expands Dr. Sax's work. This indispensable guide for parents and educators is thoroughly revised and updated to include new findings about how boys and girls interact with social media and video games; differences in how they see, hear, and smell; and guidance about how to support gender-nonconforming, LGB, and transgender kids. Dr. Sax accessibly weaves the science with stories and insights from his decades of clinical experience to show how to raise happier, healthier kids.

After reviewing this author's books on parentingboys, and girls, I finally get to the book on gender differences. Right off the bat, I notice that this book does contain a lot of repeat material from the other three books. The other books definitely go into more detail in each of their subject areas, but there were certain sections that were repeated verbatim in this book. That doesn't necessarily negate the existence of this book, since this particular instalment goes into details that the other three do not: differences in sight, smell, hearing, among others. There are even sections on differences regarding homosexual and transgender kids.

What I found interesting were the points made on sense differences between boys and girls, namely that you need to speak louder to the average boy than the average girl to have him hear you the same. This actually makes sense in the classroom, especially since most boys end up sitting at the back of the room when you let them pick their own seats. Also, boys tend to be more risk-takers than girls, so while you need to give boys a safer channel for their risk-taking, you need to encourage girls more since they tend to be risk-averse. These are points that I definitely see anecdotally in my career, but its nice to see research back it up as well.

The author's chapter on transgender children might be a bit controversial. The author poses that while transgender children definitely do exist, he believes, based on research, that the prevalence we're seeing in recent years is more about restrictive gender roles than about kids actually believing they were meant to be the opposite gender...that if gender roles were more flexible and kids saw that, we'd see less children identifying as transgender. While I do think gender roles are still too restrictive these days, especially for boys, I'm not sure how I feel about the author's point here.

Definitely worth a read, though you will notice some content repetition if you've read the author's other books.

Thoughts on the cover:
Nice and modern looking.

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