ranks of young men who enter teaching,
and bring more fathers and adult males
into preschool and elementary classrooms as role models for intellectual
Treat teacher bias seriously. There
still are teachers who believe “girls are
good at reading and boys are good at
math.” There still are teachers who
cannot tolerate physical exuberance or
coloring outside the lines. Considering
the potent effect of teacher expecta-
tions on student performance, we must
train teachers about potential bias and
evaluate them with respect to it. Just
as girls have benefited from efforts to
root out antifemale bias, boys deserve
protection from teachers who may—
consciously or unconsciously—regard
them as “toxic.”
In the past 15 years, claims about
hardwired differences between boys and
girls have propagated virally, with no
genuine neuroscientific justification. In
reality, culture, attitudes, and practices
influence boy-girl academic gaps far
more than prenatal testosterone does.
The sooner teachers open their eyes to
such influences, the sooner we can
bring out the best in every child. EL
1 The corpus callosum is a white matter
tract that provides most of the connections
between left and right cerebral hemispheres.
Some studies have reported that it’s larger in
the female brain; others have found it larger
in the male brain, but a meta-analysis of 49
studies found no significant difference in
corpus callosum size between the genders
(Bishop & Whalsten, 1997).
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(2010). Toward discovery science of
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The range of
each gender is wider
than the difference
between the average
boy and girl.
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Lise Eliot is associate professor of
neuroscience at the Chicago Medical
School of Rosalind Franklin University
and author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain:
How Small Differences Grow Into
Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can
Do About It (Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt,