I just finished reading Pink Brain, Blue Brain tonight, an interesting book about differences between boys and girls by neuroscientist Lise Eliot. This book appears to be a fairly comprehensive summary of what biological sex differences have been found and which sex stereotypes have not been shown to be based on any concrete biological differences. I recommend the book to any parent or teacher, but be warned that it does get a bit tedious by the end because the author keeps hammering on her core idea: men and women have some small biological differences with respect to some abilities (other than brute strength and childbearing functions, of course), but those differences are frequently magnified by cultural expectations and can likely be eliminated, at least partially, thanks to brain plasticity.
I do have one giant gripe with this book. The author repeats the tired, old refrain, "We need more women to go into engineering and computer science." Why? Why do we need more women to do that? Do we need more men to become beauty stylists and fashion models? Men and women just tend to have different likes and dislikes sometimes. I am so tired of hearing how horrible it is that women are systematically discouraged from pursuing scientific careers by outside forces because that doesn't jive with my experience at all. I earned a B.S. in Mathematics at a socially-conservative religious university (BYU) but always felt very supported by all my math and science professors. However, I decided after a few months of being a full-time computer programmer that I couldn't do that as a career. My reason was that I (an introvert, mind you) needed more interaction with people than the job entailed. My male coworkers seemed quite happy to spend 8 hours (and more, the crazies :0) every day just typing code and staring at a computer screen. Even though neuroscientists might not have found a biological basis for why men are more often happy to focus for hours and hours on a few lines of code or obscure technological problems while women are more likely to enjoy conversing for hours and hours about clothes and makeup (gack!) doesn't mean that these differences aren't real and powerful and due to internal preferences, not external forces. Let men and women go into the fields they want to, and stop trying to push individual women to enter certain labor pools in pursuit of a lopsided feminist ideal.