Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Rhoads, author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously. Although a busy professor at University of Virginia, he accommodatingly made time to answer questions and give a bit of personal advice to our generation.
What initially prompted you to research and write about sex differences?
When researching and writing my previous book, Incomparable Worth: Pay Equity Meets the Market, I was struck by what seemed to be deep-seated sex differences. For example, most male nurses wanted to be nurse anesthetists, which was the highest paying specialty in nursing. When I asked female nurses why they did not want be nursing anesthetists they said it would be boring – the patient is asleep and you’re looking at dials all day. I want the human contact; I want the first-hand feeling of helping patients get better. I think these feelings flow from most women’s deep-seated desire to nurture.
Did you start this project expecting to find so many inherent biological and neurological differences between men and women, or were you surprised by your research?
I was sure that I would find some deep-seated sex differences, but I was certainly surprised by how many I found.
What kind of reception have you received since publishing Taking Sex Differences Seriously? Have you gotten push-back from feminists, liberals, scientists, etc? How have conservatives responded?
I think feminists have tried to ignore the book. After I spoke about the book on book TV, I did get some graffiti on my office door. I’ve been delighted that so many of the scientists whose research I rely on have told me that they like the book. The biggest fans of the book are not usually grouped together: evolutionary scientists and serious Christians. Both of these groups believe in deep-seated sex differences.
Is there anything you wish you could add to your book, or clarify?
At the conclusion I suggest that aggressive, high testosterone women will have a hard time finding a happy marriage. This is too gloomy. They may want to seek out laid-back men, but ones that they can respect.
What do you think the world holds for young women today?
You live in a wealthy, freedom loving country. Be grateful. Choose a path which is true to the best of your nature.
What do you see as the greatest threat for us?
The fact that there are not enough college-educated men available to marry all the college-educated women.
What would you like young women in college or just-out-of-college to glean from your book?
Don’t get entangled with men you would not want to marry. If you know you will want to spend lots of time with your children when they are young, choose a flexible career that will enable you to do this.
Thanks again, Dr. Rhoads, for sharing your research and perspective with us!