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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

by Cordelia Fine
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“[Fine’s] sharp tongue is tempered with humor. . . . Read this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole issue is.”—The New York Times

It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393340242
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/08/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 338
Sales rank: 156,431
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Cordelia Fine, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, is author of the much-acclaimed Delusions of Gender and A Mind of Its Own.

Table of Contents

Introduction xv

Part I "Half-Changed World," Half-Changed Minds

1 We Think, Therefore You Are 3

Why You Should Cover Your Head with a Paper Bag if You Have a Secret You Don't Want Your Wife to Find Out 14

3 "Backwards and in High Heels" 27

4 I Don't Belong Here 40

5 The Glass Workplace 54

6 XX-clusion and xxx-clusion 67

7 Gender Equality Begins (or Ends) at Home 78

8 Gender Equality 2.0? 90

Part 2 Neurosexism

9 The "Fetal Fork" 99

10 In "the Darkness of the Womb" (and the First Few Hours in the Light) 107

11 The Brain of a Boy in the Body of a Girl ... or a Monkey? 118

12 Sex and Premature Speculation 131

13 What Does It All Mean, Anyway? 141

14 Brain Scams 155

15 The "Seductive Allure" of Neuroscience 168

16 Unraveling Hardwiring 176

Part 3 Recycling Gender

17 Preconceptions and Postconceptions 189

18 Parenting with a Half-Changed Mind 197

19 "Gender Detectives" 207

20 Gender Education 214

21 The Self-Socializing Child 226

Epilogue: And S-t-r-e-t-c-h! 233

Acknowledgments 241

Author's Note 243

Notes 245

Bibliography 289

Index 329

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Delusions of Gender 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
Delusions of Gender had been on my to-read list for a very long time, so I was more than happy to pick up a copy from my library. I really like how Cordelia writes in a way that is simple and easy to understand for the reader who might not be a neuroscientist. She writes with so much intelligence and isn't afraid to add humor in her discussion. I also like how she sprinkles a bit of sarcasm here and there. I find it extremely amazing that she was able to read The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, which I attempted to read before but found to be extremely sexist and guilty of false claims. Of course, knowledge is power, but like the saying goes, the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. There are some parts in this book that made me pretty mad. Reading about women's experiences at work with sexual harassment and discrimination in the science and math fields is so infuriating and it's something I will never get used to. The fact that they are supposed to shut up about it or else they are seen as overly sensitive is just pure BS. The only thing that I'm disappointed about is the fact that she doesn't really talk about transgender women and transgender men. Sexism is definitely detrimental to the transgender community because it reinforced traditional gender roles, a topic that she spoke about extensively throughout the book. There is a mention of a transgender woman in the book, but it's a brief reference. I would have loved to see her discussion about how gender variant and transgender youth are affected by their environment and the media. But perhaps I will find that in another book. I really like how she tackles neurosexism and the gender binary by using hard science and a realistic, critical eye on information that is seen as golden and valid.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most important books I've read lately. The author approaches the science of gender with a skeptical mind, and peels back the layers of hype to see what's underneath. Well researched and well written, it should be read by all who cite Lawrence Summers as their hero, and seek to find justification for their sexism in the scientific literature. Also should be read by all feminists who have bought into the idea of "the feminine brain" - which, it appears, is possessed by slightly under half of the female population.
Jaylia3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just when it looked like neuroscience was justifying our current worldview that innate differences are somehow ¿hardwired¿ into the brains of little boys and little girls author Cordelia Fine comes along and checks out the scientific studies. What she exposes and describes in detail are poorly designed experiments, blind leaps of faith and convoluted circular reasoning. In scientists! According to what Fine uncovered we have mutable brains, continuously influenced and changed by our cultural environment. Besides being thought provoking¿it may make you rethink a lot of your beliefs¿this book is both funny and well written.
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All those studies that say that women are bad at math and men are bad at relationships because their brains are hardwired that way can be very discouraging, and there are a LOT of those studies. But Cordelia Fine has looked into those studies and found flaws in them. Add into that a large number of studies that show how easy it is to jigger people¿s minds into doing better or worse at tasks depending on how they are psychologically primed before hand and we can see where the author is coming from. Fine¿s thesis is rather than there being any physical difference between male and female brains, the differences that we see in math scores are there because our culture expects them to be there. Even when people attempt to raise their children in a gender neutral environment, culture intervenes. On TV, in schools, in children¿s books, in the clothing sold to children- everything is divided into genders, and females end up less adventuresome, more nurturing, expected to be nicer and not fight, and to focus on home and caring rather than invented and discovering. Toys for girls and boys are separated, and children who choose to play with toys for the opposite gender are disapproved of, especially boys who play with dolls or other `girl¿ toys. Tomboys may be told to act more ladylike, but boys will get beat up by other boys. The core of her argument is that studies where test takers are primed to consider themselves members of sets other than gender yield different results than tests taken when the test takers are told things like ¿men traditionally do better on this test¿. For instance, when a group of males and females take a test and are told before hand that people who go to certain colleges (colleges that some of the test takers go to) do better on this same test, the test takers conform to this and the males and females who belong to the colleges mentioned both do better on the test than the non-certain collegians- and the males and females in that group score the same as each other on the test under these conditions. These tests have been done numerous times by different researchers, and the results are always the same- the test takers conform to expectations set up before the test. Therefore, psychology trumps brain structure where intellectual subjects are concerned. It¿s an interesting proposition, and one I think needs to be investigated more- much more. There¿s a lot still to be untangled in gender studies. Intellectual abilities are jumbled in with emotional tendencies, and I definitely think they should be considered separately. She pretty much ignores the effect of hormones on emotional states except for the case of fetal testosterone. I think that while this book doesn¿t settle any gender issue questions, it does cast a lot of doubt on previous studies and urges us to look at them much harder.
2chances on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
READ IT.Cordelia Fine's examination of the many popular books and research studies which purport to prove that the male and female brains might as well belong to different species is simply brilliant. I gobbled this non-fiction up like it was a light lunch after a hard day's manual labor. Every page was packed with jaw-dropping information - horrifying methodological flaws, research which argues two diametrically opposed concepts, and outright deception, all designed to prove that men and women are not and cannot possibly be equal. Like, just for one small example: Fine mentions the author of a popular book on the subject, who cites research about "mirror neurons," (women have more of them, which supposedly makes them more empathetic.) The author mentions a study of therapists which indicated that the most successful therapists are those that "mirror" their clients words, gestures, and verbal patterns. Interestingly, (says the author), ALL of the successful therapists were women. Because they have more mirror neurons, and are more attuned to others, right?WRONG. Cordelia Fine looked up the study (thank you, Cordelia! That would be a big nuisance for the Average Reader) and as it turns out? ALL OF THE THERAPISTS IN THE STUDY WERE WOMEN. Yeah, that's right. They only recruited women for the study, so the study proves absolutely nothing about men vs. women. And if you think this sort of thing is an anomaly, wrong again - Fine's detailed work found this sort of thing occurring over and over again. Moreover, Fine is terrific at highlighting how the social context of everything men and women do contributes to these gender stereotypes, and at explaining how gender bias affects the neuroscientific research. This is an absolutely fantastic book - I have the urge to acquire copies for every teacher, every employer, every parent on the planet. It made me rethink more of my life that I would have believed possible. Seriously, even if you think you would disagree with it: READ IT. If nothing else, you will enjoy Fine's smooth and witty prose.
Cyanide_Cola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Couldn't put it down. Engaging, funny, and chalk full of good information. Takes a hard look at some of those "hardwired gender norms". This is a must read for anyone interested in gender studies. Bring a highlighter or a notebook, your gonna need them. Theres lots of good information that your gonna want to keep track of.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really engaging look at, among other things, how people respond to stereotypes (even being reminded that one is a woman can decrease performance on a math test, while being exposed to a competent woman can improve it), how society pervasively genders children (I remember how desperate strangers were to figure out whether my infant was a boy or a girl), and how bad neuroscience gets used to ¿prove¿ that the differences between men and women are hardwired, because we¿re all egalitarians now so obviously any remaining differences are the result of genes. Sample summary dealing with the fact that self-reported data about supposedly gender-linked characteristics is unreliable: ¿if you want to predict people¿s empathic ability you might as well save everyone¿s time and get monkeys to fill out the self-report questionnaires.¿ She has a detailed discussion of supposed brain differences and what they might (or might not) mean for thinking. My favorite bit of that is a quote from someone else¿you may have read about the idea that men¿s brains are more hemispherically localized while women¿s are more interconnected, supposedly making men more suited for in-depth thinking and women for putting things together. Ian Gold, a philosopher of science, says, ¿May as well say hairier body so fuzzier thinker. Or that human beings are capable of fixing fuses because the brain uses electricity.¿ In fact, as Fine points out, it¿s not surprising that there are different configurations that perform the same functions in the world. The story she tells is both depressing¿we¿re so eager to declare victory/defeat with respect to sex differences¿and inspiring¿small interventions can make big differences. I need to figure out how to do more of this debiasing when I teach.
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