Difference between sex and gender

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  • Difference between Sex and Gender
    • Gender
      • Refers to whether a person is masculine, feminine or androgynous
      • Relates to the differences in the attitudes or behaviours of men and women
      • Androgynous person displays similar levels of masculine and feminine behaviours
        • Whether person is androgynous feminine or masculine can be assessed using questionnaires or inventories
          • Bem Androgyny Test
            • Inventory assessed whether person masculine,feminine or androgynous
              • 50 Males and 50 Females rated 200 traits on how desirable they were for men and women. 20 traits chosen for masc etc. Fem = compassion, warmth etc, masc = aggression, ambition. Traits used on Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) where people rated themselves between 1-7on each
                • Tested students, found valid when checked against samples own description of their gender indentity. Also asked smaller sample again month later, similar scores
                  • Reliable and valid. Found some score highly on masc and fem traits, but more androgynous than at extreme ends
                  • Inventories rely on people having an insight into their personality and behaviour which not all respondents do. May lie/exaggerate to give socially desirable answers, unlikely though because confidential
                    • Demonstrates people cant simply be categorised, different levels of masc etc behaviour. Also not easy to measure gender precisely, more subjective than sex
    • Sex
      • Refers to whether person is male or female
      • Relates to the physical differences between men and women
        • Therefore more easier to defined by genes and physical appearance
      • Decided at conception when sperm fertilises egg
    • Sex v Gender
      • Sex is genetic so cant be changed, however anatomy also determines sex, which can be changed in gender-reassignment sugery
        • Transexuals can have surgery to change ad have hormones but in terms of genetics and sex organs = always have same sex
      • Whether someone born with masculine or feminine traits is open to debate
      • Arguably if someone is undergoing gender re-assignment surgery they haven't been able to adopt gender role of the sex they were born, suggests gender is fixed like sex
        • Evidence to suggest gender can change =Imperato- McGuinley
          • Case study of males, part of dame extended family in Dominican Republic. Born with hormone deficiency, meant genitals appeared female so raised as girls. No problem adopting feminine identity- until puberty which increased production of male sex hormones, caused testicles descend and clitoris- like organs into penises
            • Following biological transformation, nearly all boys adopted true sex and masculine identies
              • Shows sex and gender distinct concepts. Sex hasn't changed overtime but gender had, fully embraced gender role, shows gender flexible
                • Cant assume people easily adapt to new gender. Rely on retrospective accounts of childhood, couldn't reliably say boys fully adopted feminine gender before puberty


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