Synopses & Reviews
A precise scientific exploration of the differences between boys and girls that breaks down damaging gender stereotypes and offers practical guidance for parents and educators.
In the past decade, we've come to accept certain ideas about the differences between males and femalesand#8212;that boys can't focus in a classroom, for instance, and that girls are obsessed with relationships. In Pink Brain, Blue Brain, neuroscientist Lise Eliot turns that thinking on its head. Calling on years of exhaustive research and her own work in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that small differences at birth become amplified over time, as parents and teachersand#8212;and the culture at largeand#8212;unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. Children themselves intensify the differences by playing to their modest strengths. They constantly exercise those and#8220;ball-throwingand#8221; or and#8220;doll-cuddlingand#8221; circuits, rarely straying from their comfort zones. But this, says Eliot, is just what they need to do, and she offers parents and teachers concrete ways to help. Boys are not, in fact, and#8220;better at mathand#8221; but at certain kinds of spatial reasoning. Girls are not naturally more empathetic; theyand#8217;re allowed to express their feelings. By appreciating how sex differences emergeand#8212;rather than assuming them to be fixed biological factsand#8212;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.
"Professor of neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University, Eliot (What's Going On in There?) offers a refreshingly reasonable and reassuring look at recent alarming studies about sex differences in determining the behavior of children. Her levelheaded approach recognizes assertions by the 'nature versus nurture' advocates such as Michael Gurian, Leonard Sax, Louann Brizendine e.g., boys lag behind girls in early development, are more risk taking and spatially adept, while girls are hardwired for verbal communication and feeling empathy yet underscores how small the differences really are and what parents can do to resist the harmful stereotyping that grows more entrenched over time. Eliot revisits much of the data showing subtle differences in boy-girl sensory processing, memory and language circuits, brain functioning, and neural speed and efficiency, using clever charts and graphs of her own. However, she emphasizes most convincingly that the brain is marvelously plastic and can remodel itself continually to new experiences, meaning that the child comes into the world with its genetic makeup, but 'actually growing a boy from those XY cells or a girl from XX cells requires constant interaction with the environment.' At the end of each chapter, she lists ways to nip early troubles in the bud i.e., for boys, language and literacy enrichment; for girls, stimulating movement, visual and spatial awareness. Dense, scholarly but accessible, Eliot's work demonstrates a remarkable clarity of purpose." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
andldquo;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.andrdquo;
andmdash;Margaret Talbot, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
andldquo;I wish that Pink Brain, Blue Brain had been available when my children were small. Itandrsquo;s smart about our biology, smart about our cultureandmdash;and genuinely thought-provoking in considering the way the two intersect. Read it if youandrsquo;re a parent seeking some savvy insight on child rearing, as a teacher looking to help studentsandmdash;or just read it for the pleasure of understanding yourself a little better.andrdquo;
andmdash;Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women
andldquo;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.andrdquo;
andmdash; Mark Liberman, University of Pennsylvania
andldquo;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.andrdquo;
andmdash;Lynn S. Liben, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Penn State University
andldquo;I canandrsquo;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.andrdquo;
andmdash;Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist
andldquo;[a] sharp, information-packed, and wonderfully readable bookandrdquo; andmdash;Mother Jones
andldquo;This is an important book and highly recommended for parents, teachers, and anyone who works with children.andrdquo; andmdash;Library Journal
andldquo;(a) refreshingly reasonable and reassuring look at recent alarming studies about sex differences in determining the behavior of children....Eliotandrsquo;s work demonstrates a remarkable clarity of purpose.andrdquo;
andldquo;Read [this] masterful book and you'll never view the sex-differences debate the same way again.andrdquo;
andldquo;eye-opening...[a] masterful new book on gender and the brain...Eliotandrsquo;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.andrdquo;andmdash;Washington Post
andldquo;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.andrdquo; andmdash;Booklist
andquot;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 doandmdash;but mostly do notandmdash;differ.andquot; andmdash;Science
Based on research in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls' brains and explains the harmful nature of gender stereotypes. The author offers parents and teachers concrete ways they can help all children reach their fullest potential.
About the Author
Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. The mother of two sons and a daughter, she is also the author of What's Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.