Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett Dispel Myths About Girls and Boys

The Truth About Girls and Boys

On their website, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett, authors of The Truth About Boys and Girls: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children, challenge some myths concerning the ways in which girls and boys learn:

Myth: Girls’ and boys’ brains are so different throughout childhood that they need to be taught and parented very differently

Fact: Major reviews of the scientific literature on human brains from childhood to adolescence conclude that there is “surprisingly little evidence of sex difference in children’s brains.

Myth: Boys have inherently weaker verbal skills than girls. They should be given “informational texts” to read instead of the classics or any material containing emotion, which they aren’t good at either. The media swallow this idea uncritically.

Fact: Overall, there are virtually no differences in verbal abilities between girls and boys.

Myth: Boys have brain structures that girls don’t possess, allowing them to be better at math and science.

Fact: Girls have made great strides in math and science, now scoring on par with males. A flood of new research casts doubt on the idea that girls are not “wired” to do well at math.

Myth: Boys are biologically programmed to focus on objects, predisposing them to math and understanding systems, while girls are programmed to focus on people and feelings.

Fact: There is a long literature flat-out contradicting this idea. Male and female infants tend to respond equally to people and objects. Well-designed studies show no male superiority in spatial and mathematics at an early age.

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