Do You Know How Much Gender Matters?

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I blog about Sonlight here.

Not surprising since that's what this blog is all about.

But if there's one other topic that I've blogged or commented about more than all the others it is the book Why Gender Matters by Dr. Sax. Sometimes it gets so bad that I feel like a poster boy for Dr. Sax's work. Not that I feel bad about that.

My wife's mom sent us a copy because she thought it was interesting, so we started reading it.

And we almost couldn't put it down.

Page after page of information that we had never heard about innate differences between boys and girls. And we had both had excellent psychology classes, Brittany was an education major, and I consider myself fairly well informed. But this book completely blew us away.

Just a few "teasers":

Boys have a different makeup of photoreceptor cells than girls. Boys have fewer cones in favor of more rods. This means that girls are better at seeing color and texture, but boys are better at detecting motion. It makes sense, then, why girls use lots of colors and paint objects (people and flowers), whereas boys tend to be monochromatic and draw actions (like a rocket smashing into the earth).

Boys don't hear as well as girls. This makes it hard for boys sitting the back of a classroom taught by a woman. And it also means that girls can feel like a male teacher is constantly yelling at them.

Speaking of teachers: Girls see connection with a teacher as a status symbol--a good thing. Boys, on the other hand, see asking a teacher for help as a bad thing. Thus, when a girl asks her male physics teacher for help on the second day of class, he assumes she already spent ten hours beating her head against the assignment (as he would have done in school), and incorrectly conclude that she isn't capable of handling the topic.

Mothers also misunderstand that for boys doing something dangerous is a good thing. The mother, looking back on her own childhood, recalls that her friends thought doing dangerous things was foolish, and tells her son the same. Little does she realize that her son wants to ride his bike off the roof because it is dangerous... something his sister would never do.

...that kind of thing.

On every single page.

After reading Why Gender Matters, I have come to the strong belief that if you interact with children at all, this should be required reading. If this book isn't on your reading list for 2009--and you have yet to read it--you need to.

If you don't feel like it's worth buying yet, get it from the library (and scold them if they don't have it on hand, unless it's checked out <smile>). After you've read the first two chapters or so, you'll be back to buy it.

Seriously: Why Gender Matters is that good. That's why Sonlight started carrying it--on my recommendation <beams with pride>.

Don't just take my word for it, see what others are saying.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

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  1. Esthermay

    Amazing! Sounds like an incredible book. . . . can only back up that there is indeed a CREATOR who made them "male" and "female."
    Thanks for the recommendation!
    ~esthermay @The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

  2. Heather the Mama Duk

    Thanks for the review. It sounds very good. My brother (father of four girls, no boys) insists that boys and girls are exactly the same. As the mother of one girl and three boys, I'm very sure he is wrong.

  3. Melonie

    I have to agree with Heather! My first two were girls (one by marriage, then one of my "own"), now I've got a boy.

    I thought my daughter was a wild one compared to my (now ex-) step-daughter.....then my son started walking .... OH MY GOODNESS.

    Can I just say that climbing on the couch is NOT good enough when you can see there's a windowsill to climb up onto to get a better vantage point??? lol I have learned this in the past week. *sigh*

    I am SO adding this to my library list. They have a military Ed Center right upstairs so I wouldn't be surprised if they have a copy - or several. Definitely sounds like a must-read - thanks for the heads up!!!

  4. Mrs. C

    Read this, as you know. :]

    Elf was telling me that he can't write to his penpal that he enjoys cooking and sewing as his favourite hobbies because mostly ladies do that.


    I'm sure lots of Civil War soldiers on the battlefield for years at a time NEEEEEVER cooked for themselves or sewed tears in their garments. Nope.


  5. Jessie

    Awesome. Thanks for the heads up on this book. I have added it to my planned reading list as soon as I get a break from school.

  6. Angela

    Looks like a great book...I will definitely have to pick one up.

  7. Karen (KayKay)

    Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds like a great book. Very interesting observations. I had no idea that all men didn't hear as well. Thought it was only my husband and son!;-)

  8. Luke

    Esther May, the book definitely highlights the built in differences. <smile>

    Heather, sounds like your brother could use a copy too <smile>.

    Melonie, that is hilarious! I don't have kids yet, but I'm expecting some pretty big surprises when they arrive <smile>. Hang in there as your offspring climbs ever higher!

    Mrs. C, hmm... for Elf, perhaps he'd enjoy the book "Hatchet" which ends with the main character loving to cook after he was without food options for so long. I don't recall what age that book is appropriate for, but that's my only suggestion <smile>. Furthermore, I've long liked drying flowers, and my dad made most of his clothes in college. It's cool, not girlie.

    Jessie and Angela, may you find it as informative as we did!

    Karen, there are many more surprises awaiting you within the pages of "Why Gender Matters" <smile>. I found it very fun to start seeing other connections that I had never made before.


  9. Angela Fehr

    We watched "Lords of Dogtown" the other night. After watching five boys in a row try to skateboard up the side of an empty swimming pool and crash, I turned to Wade and said, "See, that is the difference between boys and girls." One girl wiping out would have convinced the rest it wasn't worth it. :)
    I love my boy and I love to see my husband being a boy - I hope that we will always be able to respect each other's differences.
    And I am going to ask the library for that book!

  10. Luke


    That scene is pretty funny, and a prime example of gender differences <smile>.

    May you find great insight and new levels of respect as you read the book.


  11. JM

    I hope I don't come off as rude because I don't intend to be and I have waited a few weeks to comment so I could at least not sound like an angry white person, but honestly I'd laugh if people didn't take this stuff so seriously. I especially "enjoyed" the example of how girls ask for help but boys try to figure it out on their own. Uh, yeah, not quite. I would NEVER ask for help in figuring out a problem, nor would any woman in my entire family, my dh would in a heartbeat, so would just about every guy in his family. Used to drive me nuts that he would admit he couldn't figure out something on his own. I thought it meant he was stupid. Hmmm, maybe I should be a science teacher, but since girls don't like science...

    I hope, at some point, this person pointed out that not all people fit into the stereo-type our society, encouraged by books like this, wants.

  12. Luke

    JM, you are absolutely right: There is huge variance within the genders, and Dr. Sax acknowledges this fact. On the other hand, he points out that there are innate biological differences between the genders. I think he handles the material quite well--of course, if I didn't, I wouldn't be praising the book <laughing>.

    And the point of "Why Gender Matters" is to break down the stereotypes (like that girls don't like science). Dr. Sax deftly exposes how our current thinking is perpetrating these stereotypes, and how, by acknowledging the differences in the genders, we can open up the whole world to both.

    It's a fascinating read.