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The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Susan Pinker

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18. August 2009
Now available in paperback from psychologist and award- winningcolumnistSusanPinker, the groundbreaking and contro- versial book that is “lively, well- written...important and timely” (The Washington Post).

In   this   “ringing   salvo in the sex-difference   wars” (The New York Times Book Review),  Pinker  examines  how fundamental sex differences play out over the life span. By comparing   fragile   boys   who succeed  later  in  life  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 neuro- science and economics while addressing these questions: Are males the more fragile sex? 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? The answers to these questions are the opposite of what we expect.

A provocative and illuminating examination of how and why learning and behavioral gaps in the nursery are reversed in the boardroom, this fascinat- ing book reveals how sex differ- ences 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.


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"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, Farraday, 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

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Susan Pinker is a psychologist and award-winning newspaper columnist who writes about social science and interpersonal issues in her column in the Globe and Mail. She has worked as a clinical psychologist for twenty-six years and has taught at the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at McGill University. She lives in Montreal with her husband and three children.

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20 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Pinker Says What Others Will Not 17. Juli 2008
Von Jason G. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I came across this book one rainy afternoon at my local bookstore, and ended up reading it for the next two hours. Essentially an overview of why men and women seek very different career paths, "The Sexual Paradox" sheds light on some recent trends that others are quite honestly afraid to discuss.

We all know that women often abandon corporate careers in greater numbers than men. In addition, it's not outlandish to say that women do this in order to spend more time with their spouses and/or children, and are willing to let go of the handsome salaries they've worked so very hard to attain.

While that might sound sexist to some, it's a reality across the United States, if not the world in general. If anything, one might think that women have an advantage in certain careers like law -- because they certainly have higher scores in areas such as reading comprehension and writing. Despite this, our society makes demands upon women that many are simply unwilling to meet.

In essence, we need to become more accommodating to the diversity of the workforce, primarily in gender. Issues such as flex-time, maternity leave and perhaps even telecommuting could be used to make such jobs and workplaces more attractive to women, and also lessen the burden of men. The more diverse our companies, the better. Men and women both have EQUAL amounts to offer our society.

As a 22-year-old man majoring in public relations (a decidedly "female" field) I was intrigued by Pinker's overview in education. Clearly, to work in my field one needs highly developed reading and writing skills -- there's just no way around it. As the result of teaching methods that are simply outdated and ineffective, many boys do not develop these skills as well as their female peers...

And I for one would like to see something change.

In sum, Pinker does society a great service by breaking taboo and suggesting that perhaps men and women are biologically different, but that doesn't mean that either gender is any better (or worse) than the other. Perhaps in time we can begin to address these issues with honesty, and work to create a world where both sets of individuals are given equal chance to succeed -- preferably in an environment that doesn't favor one ideology over the other.
18 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Will redefine your concept of feminism 15. Juli 2008
Von hessa - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This thoroughly researched, fascinating book looks at many of the assumptions North Americans hold about gender differences and reveals some startling facts. Pinker systematically sets out to prove that women are quite different than men biologically and are actually FAVORED (not oppressed) by many cultural institutions, most notably schools and universities. As an educator and a young professional woman, I found Pinker's thesis closely matches my own experiences.

By challenging the idea that women must measure themselves the same way they measure men, this book helps readers embrace a new and more relevant brand of feminism. The style is fairly academic, but each chapter contains a number of interesting and cutting-edge studies that should help you get through the slower bits.
8 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Insightful and Well-Written Gender Analysis 14. März 2010
Von Anonymous Reader - Veröffentlicht auf
Susan Pinker has done an excellent job of marshaling the academic and medical evidence related to educational and career performance by women and men. The thesis of "The Sexual Paradox" is simple: biology profoundly influences destiny, in the workplace as well as elsewhere, and workforce policy should be cognizant of these differences.

The data collected by Pinker suggests that women (as a group) tend to be steadier performers in life and in the workplace, to hew slightly more to population medians, and to be more profoundly influenced by the needs of family and community. Men (as a group) are slightly more likely to deviate from the averages at work or in life, either for good (as star performers) or for ill (evidencing, for example, more violent or criminal behaviors), and are likely to be more influenced than are women by competitive outcomes, such as salary or status. The result, according to Pinker, is that women (as a group) are, on balance, less likely than male peers to reach the top of the career pyramid, and are more likely to value jobs that stress interpersonal connections, doing good in society, and permitting the worker to achieve a balance between home and professional responsibilities. Males, on the other hand, are more likely to be highly competitive and motivated by the prospect of maximizing earnings and status, thus propelling the most gifted up the career ladder.

Pinker bolsters her thesis with cases from her career as a developmental psychologist and interviews with male and female subjects. These cases and interviews tend to be with gifted women who have successfully entered the workforce and successful male professionals who evidence some of the traits associated with testosterone-related deviation from averages, such as Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. Her findings suggest that many gifted women voluntarily reduce their career commitments to spend additional time with family or achieve work-life balance, while the "extreme" males tend to find and pursue avidly careers that are compatible with their underlying disorders. (Examples: Males with Asperger's often seek careers in information technology or systems analysis. Males with ADHD frequently become entrepreneurs who use their need for novelty to fuel new product ideas.)

Don't stamp Pinker, though, as a proponent of the view "biology is destiny, so women shouldn't be at work." Pinker champions women entering the workforce, and suggests that business policies be revised to accommodate female workforce participation with increased use of flex-time, job-sharing, or job tracks that recognize that many women wish to take time off to fulfill family responsibilities. Her prescriptions are sensible and deserve strong consideration.

As well, Pinker stresses that her book speaks to large populations-- she recognizes that individual women and men can deviate substantially from generalized gender profiles.

Is "The Sexual Paradox" airtight? I'd say not-- the only aspect of gender discrimination that is discussed meaningfully is that of female managers blocking the advancement of female colleagues in order to protect their own turf. This is an important topic that warrants examination, but I doubt that it is the sum total of the obstacles that many women have found at work. As well, Pinker's case studies of women focus substantially on gifted women with husbands, advanced degrees and high salaries who have reduced their work commitments to enhance work-family balance. It would be interesting to see if successful women who are single parents or who do not have advanced degrees or extremely high salaries also reduce their work commitments on behalf of attaining work-life balance. Finally, it would be helpful if Pinker examined some gifted women who had not been successful at work, to see if factors other than voluntary reduction in work commitments to satisfy family requirements affected women's career trajectories.

Despite these reservations, "The Sexual Paradox" is an excellent book that highlights the biological underpinnings of job preferences and workforce tenure. Pinker has written a persuasive, well-researched and entertaining book that is an eminently worthwhile read.
7 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An important book and a needed corrective! With Nov 2010 addendum 17. Juli 2010
Von Paul Adams - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This is an extraordinary book, engagingly written, well argued, and well documented with a mass of research, especially from neuroscience. Pinker argues for an understanding of the gender gap in work, life choices, and pay between men and women that takes account of the real biological differences between the sexes. It is a mistake in her view to expect or aim for a 50-50 representation of the sexes in fields like IT, engineering, science, or corporate law or, for that matter social work and teaching.

She focuses on highly successful women who thrived in school and had every encouragement from teachers, parents, professors, and mentors and yet chose more balanced, socially and personally meaningful lives than the high-paying, high prestige careers on which they first embarked. They asserted their own wishes and needs in the face of strong social pressure and strong incentives to follow a male pattern of career success. Pinker also interviews men at the extreme end of the male brain pattern, that is, those with Asperger's, lacking in social skills, incapable of empathy or intimate friendship, who found niches where their intense focus was an advantage and their social deficits could be accommodated.

This seemed at first a puzzling strategy. Why study only successful women who have choices that most women do not? The point, though, is that when women do have a choice, they do not choose (on average) to devote themselves to their careers at the expense of family, to high pay and competitive jobs at the expense of social purpose and meaning. The gender gap is smallest where women have few choices, in countries where they are pushed into careers because of perceived needs of the economy (Zimbabwe, India) and greatest where women are most protected by labor laws and have most choices--such as Finland, the Netherlands, or Germany.

It makes sense, then, to study women's actual preferences--what they choose when they have a choice. In this sense, Pinker's book supports the argument of Neil Gilbert's A Mother's Work: How Feminism, the Market, and Policy Shape Family Life, which points out how "family-friendly" policies reinforce the economic pressures of the market and the social pressures of feminism to subordinate family to work, and women to the male model. Both authors argue for giving more weight to what women actually want rather than what others think they should want. Attempts to reduce career and (consequently pay) differences to gender discrimination belittle or invalidate the choices women who have choices make about their own lives. No wonder Pinker's book has been greeted with relief and enthusiasm by many women throughout the world.

What about men? Pinker notes in her Epilogue that half the book is about men, but few men reviewed it and the discussion the book elicited worldwide was all about women. Pinker's discussion points to the tendency of men to extremes of success and failure, their fragility, their falling behind girls and women at every educational level, their increased risk of premature birth (and death), disability, school failure, violence, and suicide. As she says, the real gender gap and the nature of the sexes and relations between them cannot be reduced to a war between the sexes and to formal and informal discrimination. Men are not "all the same."

Discrimination and socialization limited the opportunities and life choices for girls and women, and still do in many countries. The paradox, however, is that the more these factors are reduced or eliminated, the bigger the gender gap becomes, in personality as well as pay. In her epilogue, Pinker quotes with approval NYT's science correspondent's summary of a 2008 study of the personalities of 40,000 men and women on six continents: "A husband and stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France. The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge."

As a professor socialized in the 1960s and 1970s to believe that all gender differences were results of socialization and discrimination, that there were no "essential" differences other than anatomical, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. That old view was never tenable, but it persists, often unspoken but also unchallenged, in academia, to the detriment of many lives and of good policy.

Addendum 11-18-2010: Insofar as the book (and my review) relied on a mass of neuroscience studies, its line of argument has now to take account of a serious challenge from psychologist Cordelia Fine, the title of whose book, Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference speaks for itself. That book has some problems of its own--see the review by Denyse O'Leary at MercatorNet ([...]) but it is a useful corrective to the useful corrective of Pinker's book.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Goes against my sympathies 2. Mai 2013
Von Phred - Veröffentlicht auf
Author Susan Pinker (Somehow her title as doctor is missing from the book jacket) combines the latest neuroscience with some in-depth analysis of selected high performing men (all with Asperger's) and an equal number of high performing women, none having any medically diagnosed developmental issues. Both groups in her sample (at best a sample of convenience) achieved top positions in their chosen fields. The men had either no desire or perhaps no choice but to stay at that level, the women were all willing to quit and devote more time to families and less demanding work.

Among other things she will argue that males are over represented at the far ends of the IQ scales (Is anyone still valuing IQ scores?) and that in general males tend to represent more of the extreme population in any number of characteristics. This is part of her argument for the continued over representation of males in high demand, high performing jobs, despite decades of women being in the statistical majority of many college programs designed to prepare students for these positions.

To jump ahead, Dr. Pinker ALMOST argues that college acceptance committees should give more preference to male candidates over more qualified female candidates. A narrow reading is that the women are more likely to quite once they reach the top having along the way denied men who would stay the course. This is not a far argument and Professor Pinker would rightfully demand that this is not her point.

Staying with a narrow and unfair interpretation of this book is that both males and females are heavily driven by their hormones. The female hormones will ultimately drive women out of top professional positions. Again: This is not a fair argument and Professor Pinker would rightfully demand that this is not her point.

One could almost hear her women saying: "Hey I have climbed to the top, out played the players won the gold, and so what? It's time to do something more important and that is anything not at the top of a corporate ladder." Her males, on hearing a person at the top saying this are most likely to say: "Huh?"

Her males seemed to be where they were because there was no place else for them. Males are expected to achieve and having achieved they do not even think about being anywhere else, at least not in comparable numbers.

Professor Pinker is a respected columnist. She has a heavy science background and more than enough research to back her position. What she has written is a thought provoking analysis. What she has not written is a scientific paper. Her two `samples' are not a sample in any scientific meaning. These people are, in no way comparable. They serve to document her hypothesis rather than to test it. I would accuse her of selecting them on an a priori bases but she never makes any claim that her intent was to create sample groups.

There are ample grounds for making charges based on the author under valuing the operation of gender based differences in the socialization of American Males and Females in terms of their respective working and family roles.

Some have made other vague complaints about her misusing research. Unless these complaints are backed by other research or more specifics, they remain vague. The Sexual Paradox presents specific claims, backs them with specific research. It is to our advantage to consider this book, BUT only as part of a broader and deeper analysis.
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