Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It (Paperback)
In the past decade, we've heard a lot about the innate differences between males and females. As a result, we've come to accept that boys can't focus in a classroom and girls are obsessed with relationships. That's just the way they're built.
In Pink Brain, Blue Brain, neuroscientist Lise Eliot turns that thinking on its head. Based on years of exhaustive research and her own work in the new field of plasticity, Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that a few small differences at birth become amplified over time, as parents and teachers—and the culture at large—unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes.
Perhaps surprisingly, children themselves exacerbate the differences, by playing to their modest strengths. They constantly exercise those “ball-throwing” or “doll-cuddling” circuits, rarely straying from their comfort zones. But this, says Eliot, is just what they need to do. And parents can help, if they know how and when to intervene. Presenting the latest science at every developmental stage, from birth to puberty, she zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls, erasing harmful stereotypes. Boys are not, in fact, “better at math” but at certain kinds of spatial reasoning. Girls are not naturally more empathetic, they’re just encouraged to express their feelings.
By appreciating how sex differences emerge—rather than assuming them to be fixed biological facts—we can help all children reach their fullest potential, close the troubling gaps between boys and girls, and ultimately end the gender wars that currently divide us.
“Lise Eliot nimbly refutes the overemphasis on sex differences that has dominated popular thinking in our Mars and Venus age--but without resorting to a facile denial of differences, either. This is a lively, marvelously clear and readable book that combines all the latest research on sex differences with smart, sensible and humane advice to parents on how bring out the fullest potential in both boys and girls.”
—Margaret Talbot, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
“I wish that Pink Brain, Blue Brain had been available when my children were small. It’s smart about our biology, smart about our culture—and genuinely thought-provoking in considering the way the two intersect. Read it if you’re a parent seeking some savvy insight on child rearing, as a teacher looking to help students—or just read it for the pleasure of understanding yourself a little better.”
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women
“Lise Eliot surveys the real science of sex differences in a way that is clear and careful as well as entertaining, and her advice on everything from public policy to parenting is sensible and scientifically grounded.”
— Mark Liberman, University of Pennsylvania
“Lise Eliot covers a wealth of the best scientific work on gender in an accessible and engaging style. The suggestions she offers for raising and teaching children are well grounded in research and readily implemented in practice. Pink Brain, Blue Brain is an excellent resource for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in how boys and girls develop.”
—Lynn S. Liben, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Penn State University
“I can’t stop talking about Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Every time I see a toddler on a playground, or walk into a toy store, I remember some remarkable new fact I learned from Lise Eliot. This book will change the way you think about boys, girls, and how we come to be who we are.”
—Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist
“[a] sharp, information-packed, and wonderfully readable book” —Mother Jones
“This is an important book and highly recommended for parents, teachers, and anyone who works with children.” —Library Journal
“(a) refreshingly reasonable and reassuring look at recent alarming studies about sex differences in determining the behavior of children....Eliot’s work demonstrates a remarkable clarity of purpose.”
“Read [this] masterful book and you'll never view the sex-differences debate the same way again.”
“eye-opening...[a] masterful new book on gender and the brain...Eliot’s contribution in Pink Brain, Blue Brain is to explain, clearly and authoritatively, what the research on brain-based sex difference actually shows, and to offer helpful suggestions about how we can erase the small gaps for our children instead of turning them into larger ones.”—Washington Post
“refreshingly evenhanded...Written in a readable style and organized in chapters ordered by age level, this makes some scientific concepts about brain development accessible to laypeople...Anyone interested in child development and gender studies will be enlightened.” —Booklist
"Considering the nonsense already in print (much of it erroneously presented as scientific fact), Pink Brain, Blue Brain should be required reading for anyone who wants a more thoughtful consideration of how the brains of boys and girls do—but mostly do not—differ." &mdas —