Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


May 6, 2010

Author to discuss sexual paradox at UI Wallace Symposium May 16-18

Susan Pinker, a provocative, controversial and respected psychologist and author, will discuss “The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Boys, Gifted Girls, and the Real Gender Gap” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 17, in the Second Floor Ballroom of the University of Iowa Memorial Union (IMU).

Pinker’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the 10th Biennial Henry B. & Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development being held May 16-18 at the IMU. The symposium brings together researchers and theorists from around the world to present their current work on talent development, creativity and gifted education. The UI College of Education’s Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development sponsors the symposium.

A brief response panel will follow Pinker’s presentation, facilitated by Sam Cochran, director of University Counseling Services at the UI, and Gigi Durham, UI journalism associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Cochran has done research on gender issues in psychology and has worked on issues regarding the development of boys and men. He is co-author of the book “Man Alive: A Primer of Men’s Issues.” Durham has done considerable research on gender, sexuality, race and youth cultures and is the author of “The Lolita Effect.”

During the conference, more than 250 participants from 24 countries will share research findings on topics ranging from the latest policy and research on acceleration of gifted students to policy issues regarding gifted education, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and k-12 education.

“The goals of this conference are to provide participants with the latest thinking and research in the area of talent development from a diversity of scholars, and to bring issues to the forefront that are important, complex and often controversial and have them presented and discussed thoughtfully and with evidence,” said Nicholas Colangelo, director of the UI Belin-Blank Center.

Pinker, a journalist and psychologist, writes an empirically based advice column, “Problem Solving,” for the business section of Canada’s The Globe and Mail. She also regularly writes opinions and feature articles on psychology, public policy, education, behavioral economics, and business for the international press. Her bestselling book about the roots of sex differences in the classroom and the workplace, “The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap,” sparked international interest when it was published in 2008. The book received the William James Book Award by the American Psychological Association in 2009.

Pinker’s research is a perfect fit for the symposium, Colangelo said, because she raises interesting questions regarding gender patterns that are evident in schools but then seem reversed in the workplace.

“As educators, we should be concerned about understanding any patterns that enhance or impede success in students,” Colangelo said.

Colangelo added that the Wallace Research Symposium has the reputation, not only as a premier conference in the field of gifted education based on the quality and reputation of presenters, but also as the one conference that emphasizes presentations from scholars outside the field of gifted education whose work is relevant.

“For instance, Susan Pinker is not in the field of gifted education, per se, but her work is very relevant,” Colangelo said.

In her book, Pinker reveals how sex differences influence ambition and success.  Through real men’s and women’s stories, combined with research evidence and examples from popular culture, Pinker will share how weaknesses can become strengths, and why early achievements do not automatically translate into standard career triumphs. 

By comparing fragile boys who later succeed, with high achieving women who opt out, Pinker turns several assumptions upside down: that the sexes are biologically equivalent, that smarts are all it takes to succeed and that men and women have identical interests and goals. After decades of women's educational coups and rising through the ranks, men still outnumber women in business, physical science, law, engineering and politics. In explaining this phenomenon, Pinker’s controversial stance is that discrimination plays a small part. If the majority of children with school and behavioral problems are boys, she asks, why do so many overcome early obstacles, while rafts of high achieving women choose jobs that pay less or opt out at pivotal moments in their careers? 

Although Pinker’s talk is free and open to the public, all other presentations are for paid participants only. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI events. Anyone in need of special accommodations to attend Pinker’s presentation may contact the Belin-Blank Center in advance at 800-336-6463 or 319-335-6148.

For more information on the conference or to see the complete schedule, visit

For more information on the Belin-Blank Center, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148,