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Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobsby Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers
Synopses & Reviews
A landmark demonstration of how groundless beliefs about "natural" differences between the sexes have harmed both women and men — with a hopeful vision based on up-to-the-minute research.
From respected academics like Carol Gilligan to pop-psych gurus like John Gray, the message has long been the same: Men and women are fundamentally different, and trying to bridge the gender gap can only lead to grief. Generations have bought into the idea that women are uniquely primed to be "relational," men innately driven toward achievement — even when these "truths" are contradicted by what's happening in our daily lives.
The time has come, argue the authors of this groundbreaking book, to liberate ourselves from biological determinism. Drawing on years of exhaustive research, Barnett and Rivers reveal how a toxic mix of junk science, pop psychology, and media hype has profoundly influenced our thinking and behavior, causing us to make poor decisions about how we choose our mates, raise our children, and manage our careers.
It is power, not gender, that makes a difference; in fact, there are more differences among women (or men) with varying degrees of power than there are between women and men. In this vitally important and life-changing book, Barnett and Rivers sound a clarion call: a plea to end sexual stereotyping so that women and men, girls and boys, may realize their destinies as full human beings.
Same Difference takes on the myths of "Mars and Venus":
Myth: Men are genetically driven to seek out beautiful women. This may have been true in the stone age, but times change. Now, a significant number of men report that an attractive portfolio is even more alluring than a pretty face.
Myth: Women want to marry wealthy men who can protect them and their children. In fact, a surprising majority of today's women put a higher price tag on empathy and nurturance.
Myth: Girls face an inevitable plunge in self-esteem at adolescence. Recent research finds no evidence of this. Yet parents, teachers, and girls themselves lower their expectations and balk at challenges, because of this pervasive belief.
Myth: Boys and girls learn differently. Teaching styles that emphasize different tactics for boys and girls are more often rooted in stereotypes than research or hard science, and can lead to a poorer-quality education for girls. Still, public funds are squandered on special curricula aimed at "female learning styles."
Myth: Men and women speak "different languages" — they "Just Don't Understand" each other. Wrong. Women talk "male" in the boardroom, and men easily master "motherese."
Myth: Female leadership is kinder and gentler. Not so. Position is the key to behavior: female managers are not more democratic than males, though many of us might like to think so.
"According to Rivers, a professor of journalism at Boston College, and Barnett, a senior scientist at Brandeis, there is no innate difference between the sexes; there are only varying behaviors that are determined by the degree of power males and females hold in a given situation. The authors earlier collaborated on She Works/He Works, which took issue with the idea that two working parents in a home was harmful to children. In this provocative study, they take on gender theorists ranging from Carol Gilligan (In a Different Voice) to David Buss (The Evolution of Desire) and pop writer John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), picking on their arguments and their scholarship. The authors believe that gender difference theory rationalizes the discrimination still prevalent in society and is comforting in a time of great social change. Drawing on current scholarly research, Barnett and Rivers take on one 'myth' per chapter; they found little statistical support, for example, for Buss's conclusion that women choose mates on the basis of financial security and men prefer to marry younger, very attractive women. Although Barnett and Rivers make a cogent case, their conclusions will be subject to the same scrutiny as they give their targets." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Although Barnett and Rivers make a cogent case, their conclusions will be subject to the same scrutiny as they give their targets." Publishers Weekly
"[A] benchmark work highly recommended..." Library Journal
"A wonderfully provocative book that challenges, one by one, the most popular myths of gender difference, using a combination of compelling science and wise insight. Because it is easier to 'sell' the notion that a wide gulf exists between men and women, books and articles proclaiming gender differences receive cover story attention. I strongly hope that this book receives comparable attention and is widely read — because it will clearly help improve relationships between men and women, boys and girls." Ellen Galinsky, President, Families and Work Institute, and author of Ask the Children
Book News Annotation:
Psychologist Barnett (Brandeis U.) and media critic Rivers (Boston U.) take a closer look at the fad for gender-difference research manifested in "Mars and Venus"-style pop psychology and show how the theoretical assumptions behind such analyses have real, practical, and damaging consequences in the lives of women, men, and children. An emphasis on innate differences between the sexes, they argue, has compromised education, workplace relations, marriages, and friendships. It's power, they find, and not gender that makes the difference; they explore and dismantle a number of commonly accepted notions of biological destiny from math ability to maternal instinct. Barnett and Rivers are also the authors of the 1996 study He Works/She Works.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Drawing on years of exhaustive research, Barnett and Rivers debunk gender myths and reveal how a toxic mix of junk science, pop psychology, and media hype has influenced thinking and behavior, causing people to make poor decisions.
A landmark demonstration of how groundless beliefs about "natural" differences between the sexes have harmed both women and men-with a hopeful vision based on up-to-the-minute research
For the first time in history, women make up half the educated labor force and are earning the majority of advanced degrees. It should be the best time ever for women, and yet... its not. Storm clouds are gathering, and the worst thing is that most women dont have a clue what could be coming. In large part this is because the message theyre being fed is that they now have it made. But do they?
In The New Soft War on Women, respected experts on gender issues and the psychology of women Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett argue that an insidious war of subtle biases and barriers is being waged that continues to marginalize women. Although women have made huge strides in recent years, these gains have not translated into money and influence. Consider the following:
- Women with MBAs earn, on average, $4,600 less than their male counterparts in their first job out of business school.
- Female physicians earn, on average, 39 percent less than male physicians.
- Female financial analysts take in 35 percent less, and female chief executives one quarter less than men in similar positions.
In this eye-opening book, Rivers and Barnett offer women the real facts as well as tools for combating the soft war” tactics that prevent them from advancing in their careers. With women now central to the economy, determining to a large degree whether it thrives or stagnates, this is one war no one can afford for them to lose.
About the Author
Rosalind Barnett, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist at Brandeis University and Director of its Community, Families, and Work Program. She is the author of six books and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today, among other publications. She lives in Weston, Massachusetts.
Caryl Rivers is a Professor of Journalism at Boston University and is a nationally known columnist, author, journalist, and media critic. She has written for the New York Times, The Nation, Ms., Rolling Stone, the Washington Post, and Dissent. She lives in Winthrop, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
1 The seduction of difference 1
2 The caring trap 17
3 That old black magic 47
4 The mating game 71
5 Talking about power 99
6 Man (and woman) the hunter 127
7 Do the math 149
8 Leading questions 173
9 As the twig is bent 203
10 The self-esteem swan dive 227
11 The road ahead 247
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