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Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Recorded on August 10, 2004

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

Most contemporary discussions of sex differences assume that they are determined by society rather than biology. Reflecting the fashionable idea that male and female roles have been "socially constructed," most commentators speak of gender instead of sex. Because men and women are virtually inter-changeable, so the argument goes, men should do an equal share of domestic and childrearing work so that women can compete equally outside the home. There's only one problem with this beguiling vision of androgyny. Whatever we might like to believe, as Dr. Steven Rhoads shows, sex distinctions remain a deeply rooted part of human nature. In Taking Sex Differences Seriously (website), Rhoads assembles a wealth of scientific evidence showing that these differences are "hardwired" into our biology. He explores disparities in aggression and dominance, in sexuality and nurturing. He shows how denial of these differences has helped to create the sexual revolution, fatherless families, and policies such as Title IX, and the call for universal day care. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Taking Sex Differences Seriously dispels contemporary clichés and spotlights biological realities.

"Steven Rhoads has written an exceptionally brave book that uses a mountain of empirical evidence to show what each of us knows intuitively but are usually afraid to say out loud: that men and women are different, and that these differences are in important respects rooted in nature rather than being socially constructed. This book demonstrates in a host of ways how awareness of these differences will have important implications for social policy."

     - Francis Fukuyama, Dean of Faculty, Bernard Schwartz Professor of Political Economy The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

STEVEN RHOADS has taught public policy at the University of Virginia for over thirty years. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Public Interest and other publications. His books include The Economist's View of the World and Incomparable Worth: Pay Equity Meets the Market.