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What it really means to think like a mathematician is to see past the distracting, superficial details of things to find their essences. When she turned that thinking upon gender, she found, there wasn’t much essence to speak of at all. But what she did find there has become this book. At the heart of x + y are two concepts: not masculine or feminine, but what Cheng calls ingressive and congressive personalities. Ingressive people are competitive, independent, bold, risk-taking, self-assured, and often have one-track minds: these are the people Cheng worked with in high finance, the sort of people who might do well as surgeons or daredevils. Congressive people, on the other hand, focus on society and community, take the needs of others into account, emphasize interconnectedness, and tend to collaborate. As a society, we associate ingressive personalities with men and congressive personalities with women. And herein lies the problem-the source not just of gender inequality, but a great deal of individual unhappiness.
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