The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Lis Carey's Blog

This is an excellent and important book, clearly written yet also packed with documentation.

Bookshelf Bombshells

Buy It RIGHT NOW. Run to the bookstore. Knock over children and old ladies if you have to. Just get your hands on this book!

Things Mean a Lot Blog

...simple, direct, and accessible prose.

Media Report to Women
Should be given to new parents, educations, coaches, and anyone with the ability to influence the path of young lives. It's packed with excellent advice.

— Sheila Gibbons

PsycCritiques

Thought-provoking.

Psychology of Women Quarterly
Because of the topic and accessibility of the writing, parents and teachers should be encouraged to read this book.

— Emily Keener

Barrie Thorne

BRAVO! This is a much needed, informative, and engaging book. The authors, Rosalind C. Barnett (a highly respected research psychologist) and Caryl Rivers (a skilled journalist), take the reader on a critical and clarifying tour of claims about categorical, biologically-based sex differences used to justify the move towards more publicly funded single-sex schooling. This book is a significant contribution to an area of heated debate and policy struggle. Parents, teachers, and policy-makers can turn to it as a reliable guide through a thicket of hype and over-claiming. The authors do an excellent job of unpacking empirical assertions, exposing shabby "science," unfounded generalizations and jumps of logic.

Diane F. Halpern

The gloves are off. Rivers and Barnett provide a convincing case that much of what parents, teachers, and the general public know about differences between girls and boys is based on highly publicized accounts of shoddy and misleading science. They provide readers with an understanding of the ways girls and boys are similar and different and how we can use that knowledge to raise happy, healthy, and successful children.

Jonathan Kaufman

A bracing antidote to conventional wisdom. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Rivers and Barnett take readers into the world of research and emerge with surprising and unsettling conclusions. Teachers, educators, parents, journalists, and researchers would do well to read this book before hopping on the bandwagon about the 'differences' between girls and boys.

Lise Eliot

The Truth About Girls and Boys is exactly that -- the real story behind over-hyped claims of sex difference and their harming of girls and boys. Rivers and Barnett expose the sloppy journalism that has allowed pseudoscientific ideas to percolate into our collective beliefs about gender development. Parents, teachers, and policymakers will do well to read this book, to rescue today's girls and boys from false claims of 'hardwired' differences limiting their learning and stunting their futures.

Peggy Orenstein

Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett's dissection of the ways tired stereotypes are being repackaged as 'science' is urgently important. It must be read immediately by parents, educators -- anyone who believes children should develop their full intellectual and emotional potential.

William S. Pollack

The Truth About Girls and Boys is a must read for anyone vouchsafed with the upbringing, care, teaching, or social policy that impacts our most precious legacy: our children -- girls and boys. We must read this 'game changing' book, ponder its meaning, and not put it down until we move from our present position of empty-minded acceptance to open-minded and critical thinking. Rivers and Barnett throw out a sturdy life preserver to bring us back from the harm of mangled pseudoscience to the shores of thoughtful, gender equitable understanding.

Sue Klein

Rivers and Barnett provide insightful examples to show how sex stereotypes ranging from aggression to sexualized body images are based on inaccurate and often harmful generalizations. They make a powerful case against a key rationale for sex-segregated education -- that girls and boys learn differently, and therefore should be taught differently and in sex segregated classes. Instead, they conclude that heterogeneous groups and attention to individuals will do more to maximize opportunities and improve society.

Media Report to Women - Sheila Gibbons

Should be given to new parents, educations, coaches, and anyone with the ability to influence the path of young lives. It's packed with excellent advice.

Psychology of Women Quarterly - Emily Keener

Because of the topic and accessibility of the writing, parents and teachers should be encouraged to read this book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231151627
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,453,023
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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. Her articles have appeared in the The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Saturday Review, Ms., Mother Jones, McCalls, Glamour, Redbook, Rolling Stone, and Ladies Home Journal. She writes for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Chicago Tribune, and is the author of Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women, among other works of fiction and nonfiction.

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. Dr. Barnett has a private clinical practice and is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles that have appeared in Self, Working Woman, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Working Woman. She is the recipient of the Radcliffe College Graduate Society's Distinguished Achievement Medal and the Anne Roe Award from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, for her contribution to women's professional growth and the field of education.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Brains in Pink and Blue?3. More Pink and Blue4. Math Wars5. Word Play6. Toy Choice7. The More Aggressive Sex?8. Caring9. The Ideal Classroom10. Single-Sex Education, Pros and Cons11. ConclusionNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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