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The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap Paperback – Bargain Price, August 18, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Why, according to 2003 figures, do women constitute 49% of law school graduates but only 27% of practicing lawyers? Defying taboos, Pinker, a psychologist and columnist for the Globe & Mail, presents a compelling case for a biological explanation of why men and women make different career choices. Drawing on comprehensive scientific and social evidence and case studies, she proposes that hormones are a determining factor. The hormones predominant in men lead to action, focus and, often, to competitive and rigidly hierarchical professions such as law. Women's hormones lead them to focus on empathy and social interaction, and careers as teachers or social workers. Thus, despite their early advantages—girls have better language skills and discipline, while boys are more prone to dyslexia, autism and Asperger syndrome and other difficulties—women tend not to seek out the highest status or the most lucrative careers: They're reluctant to take jobs whose demands won't allow them the choice to focus on other aspects of their lives. Pinker says she isn't calling for a return to the 1950s housewife model. She emphasizes individual differences among men and women, but hopes that wider recognition of gender differences can lead to greater workplace flexibility and room for women's professional advancement on their own terms. She may draw a great deal of fire for this book, but her strong evidence could also open a better-informed discussion of the issues. B&w illus. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743284712
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,713,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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...
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Format: Paperback
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.
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