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Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences

Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences [Kindle Edition]

Cordelia Fine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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'Impeccably researched and bitingly funny - both sexes should rejoice at [this] vitriolic attack on - sexism masquerading as psychology.' Evening Standard 'Bold ... Timely and provocative ... [Fine's] well-stocked armoury ... includes extensive research, sharp wit and a probing intelligence, and refuses to be satisfied with the delusional myth-making that often passes for popular science.' Metro 'Fine writes with bravura. She takes no hostages. She rejoices in demystifying the compellingly seductive false colour images provided by the MRI scanners ... a book that sparkles with wit, which is easy to read but underpinned by substantial scholarship and a formidable 100-page bibliography ... every page of Fine's brilliant, spiky book reminds us that science is part of culture and that the struggle against sexism in the neurosciences and the struggle against sexism in society are intimately linked.' Hilary Rose, Times Higher Education Supplement 'Fine invites her readers into a passionate, insightful and often funny discussion about how gender identity is all in the mind, not the brain.' Globe & Mail, Canada 'As Fine argues in this forceful, funny new book, the notion that gender accounts for differences in minds and behavior through some biological, brain-based process is an idea as popular as it is unproven.' Boston Globe 'An irreverent and important book' Washington Post 'Read this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole issue is.' New York Times 'A timely warning against taking too seriously the deluge of books and articles that would have us believe that men are biologically advantaged when it comes to mathematics, racing driving or map reading - and that women are naturally more intuitive and nurturing, so better at childcare and multitasking.' Guardian 'Dr Fine is a brilliant tour guide - making light, fun and engaging work of the research. By debunking the rubbish, this book opens up possibilities for a (slightly) clearer vision of the future. Not to be missed.' 'Men may be from Mars and women from Venus but if you put blokes and sheilas on each other's planet they will work out how to manage - An excellent book that puts the old nature-or-nurture debate in the context of the new science on the way our brains work.' The Australian 'For two millennia women have heard how our brains are too small, our wombs too big, our blood too thin or too cold, or how we are too weak/excitable/nervous (supply your own adjective) to do whatever it is we were thinking of doing. Since the 1970s we have been getting even and getting equal, but just when you thought it was OK to do rocket science, along comes neuroscience to tell us it's all in the hardwiring of our brains, and really, women don't have the connections - and I don't mean the ones in the boardroom. Cordelia Fine's brilliant book Delusions of Gender (Icon) debunks the likes of Simon Baron-Cohen, dressed up in one of his brother's outfits as a mad scientist, waving mobiles at newborn babies to see if the boys are more "interested" than the girls.' Jeanette Winterson, Books of the Year, Guardian

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This is a vehement attack on the latest pseudo-scientific claims about the differences between the sexes - with the scientific evidence to back it up. Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory. Yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it's our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, "Delusions of Gender" rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. Cordelia Fine reveals the mind's remarkable plasticity, shows the substantial influence of culture on identity, and, ultimately, exposes just how much of what we consider 'hardwired' is actually malleable. This startling, original and witty book shows the surprising extent to which boys and girls, men and women are made - and not born.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this. 19 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hands down one of the best books on gender issues and popular assumptions about gender I have ever read. And for all that it tackles some pretty heavy theory and science, it's a remarkably light read, that will even have you laughing out loud at times, without ever becoming less than serious and passionate.
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77 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning amount of research 29 Aug 2010
I found this book stunning. All around you see all this stuff about 'Men's brains' and 'Women's brains', and it always struck me as odd that a sex that has, for example, written so much brilliant literature should be deemed semi-autistic, etc etc. So here comes this brilliantly researched book (just take a look at the pages and pages of notes at the end - this author knows her onions backwards and forwards and sideways) - and she points out how shoddy it all is.
And she's funny!
No one will ever again have to sit through a dinner party with some parent going on about how 'I thought that too, but you only have to LOOK at my ttwo children to see there are innate differences...bleh bleh'. She unpickes it all and shows how social pressures are so important and the brain differences that are so often claimed are, essentially, neurotosh, aka neurosexism. I think I shall carry a copy round with me.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and entertaining 4 Jan 2011
By Cathy
This book should be required reading for all women - and men, and especially all those who would wish to be enlightened parents.

The author reviews and explains neuroscience studies, real and spurious, in the area of gender that are genuinely surprising to read about. Assumptions I've made over the years are taken apart and revealed as 'tricks of the mind'. Studies are analyzed and shown to be 'bad science'. It is genuinely eye-opening, even for those of us who have always thought themselves fairly 'gender aware'. Thankfully the hardiest detractor of Cordelia Fine's work (and I'll just bet there are many - this area is always one in which you light the blue touchpaper and retire!)would have trouble finding her rabid or partisan. The wry - and overt - humour in the text is wonderful.

I heartily recommend this book - for it's balanced, scientific approach, its good humour and it's well-written prose.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Oh my LORD! You will never feel the same way about using a simple pronoun again.

This book highlights all sorts of ways in which male and female stereotypes affect the way people think about themselves and others. In TERRIFYING ways. We are given a layperson's synopsis of a number of experiments and their alarming results. Cordelia Fine recounts how simply reminding yourself what gender you are (by ticking a box on a form, unbelievably) has been shown to affect how you go on to perform in a maths test: girls score lower than control groups when reminded that they are female, since the all-pervasive stereotype is that boys are better at maths. This is just one horrifying example of the way stereotypes can affect all of us for the worse.

We are shown the many ways that we all treat boys and girls differently, even subconsciously. Fine doesn't prove that there are no differences between male and female brains but she provides a fantastically sarcastic commentary on the literature which aims to prove the opposite. She articulates her concern that some teachers and parents are deliberately treating boys and girls differently, because of bad-science claims in pop-culture books that suggest that the sexes must be treated differently to achieve equality. She urges caution in making assumptions about different abilities or preferences in boys and girls, demonstrating there is not enough evidence to warrant it.

The first part of the book shows us the damage that can be done by our different treatment of girls and boys, and the last part proves to readers that they too do this themselves, even though they don't mean to. Fine has added a valuable contribution to this debate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this 17 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating, thoroughly researched assessment of gender differences and where these come from.

This book convincingly argues the case that gender difference is more the result of gender inequality in society than a result of genes or biology. It scathingly pulls apart assertions in popular literature that gender differences are "hard wired" showing these without fail to be based on bad or inadequate science or misinterpretation of results.

Easy to read and laugh out loud funny in places this important book should be read by anyone interested in why we are the way we are and how our interactions with the environment affect others in around us, most particularly children and how we parent them.

In fact I think this is one of the best books I have read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I found this book interesting as a further reading in my series on the eternal conundrum of man/woman relationship. This book emphasizes the environmental influence on the development of man and woman, whereas other books looked at the psychological dimension (like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus") or at the biological evolutionary aspect (like "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps") of the differences between genders.

Put it another way, what these books purport to be hardware differences, Fine argues are only software differences, the result of education, upbringing, societal influences. Without these external conditioning there is no scientifically measurable difference in the brains of man and woman.

In my view the theory developed in this book does not necessarily contradict those of the other, hardware oriented, books. I came away persuaded both are at work and relevant. I also came away persuaded that it does not make a whole lot of difference, for practical purposes: I believe in equal rights between the genders, and so obviously we must strive for equal opportunity. That will probably not result in equal attitudes, equal predispositions, or equal approaches to problem solving. Or maybe, in time, it will. We'll see. For the time being it is clear that the most important thing is to be aware of existing differences, whether hardware or software. Pretending they don't exist can only be harmful to man/woman relationships and counterproductive to our effort to overcome discrimination.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars feminist wonder. fast and speedy delivery
love love love this book. very informative. science based. reiterates a lot of what we already know but in the form of studies and history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ester
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a light read
Cordelia Fine's analysis of the pseudo science that is often trotted out regarding 'proven' inherent differences between the way men and women's brains function is both thorough... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Just Me
5.0 out of 5 stars Specific/Good research
A really great book for anyone interested in childhood development, gender studies, parenthood or feminism. I feel that the author has been really thorough. Read more
Published 4 months ago by KS
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Looks into the background to conclusions about "what girls are good at". Science is pretty well researched, may change your mind if you want it to be changed....
Published 4 months ago by Miss C. L. Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think
Thought provoking but not excessively dry, it's written with humour (as well as some anger) and is not a hard read at all
Published 7 months ago by Lovely Baby J
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and reasuring.
Since working recently for a company that sells books for children all neatly published in lists either for 'girls' (princess, fairies, shopping and pink), or 'boys' (space,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by happymgee
5.0 out of 5 stars GROUNDBREAKING; readable and informative, a book which succcessfully...
This is a book that really challenges the current dominant ideology that there are neurological differences between men and women which mean that women are better at all the things... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Angel
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it but be prepared to get angry
Someone on Facebook recommended this to me, as part of a conversation we were having about gender perceptions. Read more
Published 9 months ago by S. Morton
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
A great book with very interesting thoughts and debates on gender. However, I felt like it was missing some foundations with previous research and more 'theory'. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Manon Vanham
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
I had great expectations on this book and it absolutely delivered. Cordelia Fine explains why certain theories about gender differences are absolute make-believe. Do buy
Published 11 months ago by Ellen Andersson
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