The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap (Paperback)
By Susan Pinker
Why, according to 2003 figures, do women constitute 49 percent of law school graduates but only 27 percent of practicing lawyers? Defying taboos, Pinker, a psychologist and columnist for the Globe and Mail, presents a compelling case for a biological explanation of why men and women make different career choices. Drawing on comprehensive scientific and social evidence and case studies, she proposes that hormones are a determining factor. The hormones predominant in men lead to action, focus and, often, to competitive and rigidly hierarchical professions such as law. Women’s hormones lead them to focus on empathy and social interaction, and careers as teachers or social workers. Thus, despite their early advantages – girls have better language skills and discipline, while boys are more prone to dyslexia, autism and Asperger syndrome and other difficulties – women tend not to seek out the highest status or the most lucrative careers: They’re reluctant to take jobs whose demands won’t allow them the choice to focus on other aspects of their lives. Pinker says she isn’t calling for a return to the 1950s housewife model. She emphasizes individual differences among men and women, but hopes that wider recognition of gender differences can lead to greater workplace flexibility and room for women’s professional advancement on their own terms. She may draw a great deal of fire for this book, but her strong evidence could also open a better-informed discussion of the issues. Black and white illustrations.
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Susan Pinker, psychologist and award-winning columnist, has written a groundbreaking and controversial book that reveals why learning and behavioral gaps between boys and girls in the classroom are reversed in the workplace.
Pinker examines how fundamental sex differences play out over the life span. By comparing fragile boys who succeed later with high-achieving women who opt out or plateau in their careers, Pinker turns several assumptions upside down: that women and men are biologically equivalent, that intelligence is all it takes to succeed and that women are just versions of men, with identical interests and goals. In lively prose, Pinker guides readers through the latest findings in neuroscience and economics while addressing these questions: Are males the more fragile sex? What do men with Asperger syndrome or dyslexia tell us about more average men? Which sex is the happiest at work? Why do some male college dropouts earn more than the bright girls who sat beside them in third grade? After three decades of women’s educational coups, why do men outnumber women in corporate law, engineering, physical science and politics? The answers to these questions are the opposite of what we expect.
A provocative examination of how and why learning and behavioral gaps in the nursery are reversed in the boardroom, this illuminating book reveals how sex differences influence career choices and ambition. Through the stories of real men and women, science and examples from popular culture, Susan Pinker takes a new look at the differences between women and men.
“Fascinating, insightful and deeply captivating. Every thinking man and woman should read this book.” - Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of "The Female Brain"
“Pinker crafts a biologically based and sure-to-be-controversial examination of sex differences between “fragile men” and gifted women who opt out of successful careers. A valuable demonstration of how discounting biology during the last 40 years has done a disservice, especially to men.” - Kirkus
“In this marvelous book, Susan Pinker presents a fascinating analysis of “the gender gap,” introducing a continuous flow of exciting ideas and new insights into old problems and controversies. It’s a pleasure to read a book that is so informative and entertaining about a complex topic that is rarely examined, as it is here, from all points of view.” - Ron Melzack, E.P. Taylor Professor Emeritus, in the Department of Psychology, McGill University
“All these many years of running a business, I thought I was an anomaly. Susan Pinker’s work has grounded my intuitions in reality: a woman’s success is going to knock the spiritual stuffing right out of her if she tries to come at it from traditional angles. Instead she must invent a workplace that not only provides food for the table but gives social and emotional meaning to her life. Susan Pinker helps you understand that it’s not you that’s crazy, it’s the system.” - Margot Franssen, social activist and co-founder of The Body Shop Canada
“'The Sexual Paradox' highlights some central puzzles about exceptional men and women. Why did Einstein never complete his PhD? Or Cavendish, Faraday, Darwin, and Bill Gates never complete their degrees or even drop out of university? And why do high-flying business women not behave like their male counterparts? Susan Pinker’s wide-ranging look at the nature of the sexes is a highly readable and welcome contribution to this perennial debate.” - Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University, author of "The Essential Difference"
“Susan Pinker’s 'The Sexual Paradox' is meticulously researched, brilliantly argued and thoroughly persuasive. It moves the debate over sex differences to a new level of sophistication.” - Christina Hoff Sommers, author of "Who Stole Feminism?" and "The War Against Boys"
“Presented with flair, sensitivity, and determination, Pinker’s penetrating conclusions shed important new light on how gender differences affect every strata of contemporary existence.” - Booklist
About the Author
Susan Pinker is a psychologist and a Globe and Mail columnist. Her writing has been recognized in awards from the Periodical Writers Association of Canada and the Canadian Medical Association, and she was a finalist for the John Alexander Media Award, the Aventis Pasteur Medal for Excellence in Health Research Journalism and the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Communications. She has taught in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at McGill University and lives in Montréal with her husband and three children.