Gender Differences Gender Roles and Gender Differences Costs of Gender Polarization Gender-Typing Gender Polarization.
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Gender DifferencesGender Roles and Gender DifferencesCosts of Gender PolarizationGender-TypingGender Polarization
Sandra BemBem (1993) writes that there are three common beliefs about men and women in western society and that these beliefs have lead to gender polarization.
1. Women and men have basically different psychological and sexual natures.
2. Men are the superior, dominant gender.
3. Gender differences and male superiority are natural.
Gender Role StereotypesGender Polarization: The cultural tendency to see males and females as psychological and sexual opposites.
Women: Warm, emotional, dependent, gentle, helpful, mild, patient.
Men: Independent, competitive, tough, protective, logical, competent.
Adjustment and AndrogynyMany psychologists look upon masculinity and femininity not as opposite ends of a continuum, but rather, as independent dimensions.
People who possess both stereotypically masculine and feminine traits are said to show psychological androgyny.
People who are low in both stereotypical masculine and feminine traits are undifferentiated according to masculinity and femininity.
Undifferentiated people seem to encounter distress while those who are androgynous may be more resistant to stress.
Androgyny, Well-Being and Personal DevelopmentAndrogynous individuals:
Tend to be more creative than masculine or feminine-typed individuals.
Are more likely to show a firm sense of who they are and what they stand for.
Show masculine independence under group pressure to conform and feminine nurturance in interactions with a baby.
Feel more comfortable performing a wider range of activities in different contexts.
Show greater self-esteem and ability to bounce back from failure.
Cognitive AbilitiesIt was once assumed that men were more intelligent than women.
We now know that it had more to do with the exclusion of women from world affairs, science, and industry.
Tests of intelligence show no differences in overall intelligence between the genders. However, there are some differences in specific skills.
Differences in Cognitive AbilitiesGirls are somewhat superior to boys in verbal abilities, such as verbal fluency, ability to generate words that are similar in meaning to other words, spelling, pronunciation, foreign languages, etc.
Men seem to be somewhat superior in the ability to manipulate visual images in working memory.
Males generally obtain higher scores on standardized math tests than females, but females excel in computational ability in elementary school.
Rotating figures in Space
Cognitive Abilities (cont.)Even though gender differences appear to exist, psychologists note that:
In most cases, the differences are small.
These gender differences are group differences.
Some differences may largely reflect sociocultural differences.
The gender gap in standardized math test scores is narrowing.
Gender Differences in Social BehaviorWomen exceed men in extraversion, anxiety, trust, and nurturance. Women are also more emotionally expressive and cooperative.
Men exceed women in assertiveness and tough-mindedness. Men tend to be more competitive.
Mens friendships with other men tend to be shallower and less supportive than womens friendships with other women.
Women tend to interact at closer differences than men do.
Women are more likely to want to combine sex with a romantic relationship whereas men express more interest in casual sex and in multiple sex partners.
Gender-TypingGender typing: The process or processes by which males and females develop psychological gender differences.
Gender identity: Ones sense of being male or female.
Gender identity disorder: A psychological disorder characterized by cross-gender identification.
Biological Influences on Gender TypingEvolutionary psychology holds that gender differences were fashioned by the process of natural selection in response to problems in adaptation. These differences may expressed through structural differences in males and females (such as the brain), through differences in body chemistry and the endocrine system.
Brain OrganizationContemporary researchers find evidence that brains of men and women are organized somewhat differently.
Brains of males appear to be more highly specialized for certain kinds of visual-spatial skills. Women tend to have better-developed verbal skills.
It is believed that sex hormones have a masculinizing or feminizing effect on the brain.
Psychosocial Influences on Gender TypingThere are three primary psychosocial perspectives on gender typing:
PsychodynamicFreud believed that boys come to act like boys and girls like girls via the process of identification.
Identification: The process of incorporating within the personality elements of others.
Boys come to identify with their fathers while girls identify with their mothers.
Social-CognitiveChildren learn much of what is considered masculine or feminine by observational learning, or modeling.
Socialization: The fostering of gender appropriate behavior patterns by providing children with information and using rewards and punishments.
For example, girls are given dolls and encouraged to use dolls to rehearse caretaking behaviors. In terms of aggression, girls aggressive behavior is discouraged via punishment and withdrawal of affection. Therefore, girls usually feel anxious about the possibility of acting aggressively.
Aggression and SocializationRichardson Study (1979).
Contest between men and women. Winner administers shock.
Women in three conditions: Private, public, or supportive other.
Women gave lower shocks in presence of public observation.
Gender-Schema TheoryThe view that ones knowledge of the gender schema in ones society guides ones assumption of gender-typed preferences and behavior patterns.
In other wordsby the age of 3, children have developed a sense of being male and being female and begin to actively seek out information about their gender-schema via observational learning.
Costs of Gender Polarization
Costs in Terms of EducationOnly as of the 20th century have girls been integrated into the public schools.
While intelligence tests show no overall difference between girls and boys, there are differences in expectations. Thus, girls excel in reading because they are expected to. However, they dont excel as much as boys in men (due to lowered expectations). This leads to fewer women in the fields of math, science and engineering.
Costs in Terms of CareersWomen are less likely than men to enter higher-paying careers in math, science, and engineering due to being dissuaded as girls.
There are inequalities in the workplace. Womens wages average only 76.5% of mens. Women physicians and college professors earn less than men in the same position.
Women are less likely to be promoted to high-level managerial positions.
Women in the business world who employ the same behaviors as men (such as aggressiveness) may be viewed negatively.
Women also feel pressure to be careful about their appearance and have to fill the dual role of worker and caretaker at home.
Costs in Terms of Psychological Well-Being and RelationshipsCompared to women who identify with more flexible gender roles, women who adopt traditional feminine gender roles:
Appear to have lower self-esteem.Find stressful events more aversive than women who also show some masculine-type traits.Are less capable of bouncing back from failure experiences.Are more likely to believe that women are to be seen and not heard.Are more likely to conform to group pressure.
Costs in Terms of Psychological Well-Being and RelationshipsCompared to men who identify with more flexible gender roles, women who adopt traditional masculine gender roles:
Are more likely to be upset if their wives earn more money than they do.Are less likely to be comfortable with child care.Are less likely to ask for help when they need it.Are less likely to be sympathetic and tender.Are less likely to be tolerant of their wives or lovers faults.
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