Sex and Gender differences

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  • Sex and Gender
    • Difference between sex and gender
      • Sex - Whether a person is male or female
        • Physical differences between men and women, boys and girls
      • Gender - Whether an individual is masculine, feminine or androgynous
        • Relates to differences in attitudes and behaviour
    • Androgyny
      • A flexible gender role
      • Displays similar levels of masculine and feminine behaviour. It is not associated with a particular sex
      • Whether a person is androgynous, or just masculine or just feminine, can be assessed with inventories and/or questionnaire
    • Bem study
      • People cannot simply be categorised as either masculine, feminine or androgynous. There are different levels of behaviour
      • It is not easy to measure gender precisely. Gender is more subjective than sex.
      • An individuals sex can be objectively defined by their genes and physical appearance, their gender may be open to interpretation
    • Sex vs Gender
      • Decided at the moment of conception ( when sperm fertilises an egg)
        • Newly formed foetus has the chromosomes to decide whether it will be born a boy or girl
      • Genetic and so is fixed (cannot be changed)
        • Sex-change operations therefore do not really change a persons sex
        • an individual's sex is partly determined by their anatomy (EG: genitals) and this can be changes in gender re-assignment surgery
      • A transsexual woman may have a penis surgically constructed and her breasts removed so she appears as a man.
        • She may also be given hormones to stop her menstruating, to deepen her voice and to encourage body and facial hair growth
          • Yet internally, both in terms of genetics and sexual organs she will always be a female. Arguably this is not a problem as long as she feels like a man.
            • Why she would undergo gender re-assignment in the first place. In other words; her sex would be female but her gender identity would be masculine.
      • Gender is fixed like sex. Since people who undergo gender re-assignment have not been able to simply adopt the gender role of the sex that they were born.
    • Further evidence for the flexibility of gender:
      • Rekers et al (1974)
        • Replace feminine behaviour which masculine behaviour in an 8 year old boy using a 3 year treatment programme
          • Boy was assessed at the age of 16. he was described as a normal gender-appropriate adolescent
          • Achieved by reinforcing masculine traits in the boy, again showing that a person's gender can be changed
      • Psychologists are more interested in the concept of gender because it relates to people's perception of themselves and to their behaviour
      • Gender is a psychological concept, whereas sex is a biological concept. There is little dispute about the origins of an individual's sex, but what makes a person masculine, feminine or androgynous is much more debateable


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