biological influences into gender development essay plan


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Biological Influences on Gender Essay Plan
· Gender is determined by biological sex which in turn is determined by our
· Females XX, males XY, sex determined by father's sperm. Half of sperm contains
an X chromosome, half Y chromosome. As all female's eggs contain X
chromosomes sex is determined by which sperm fertilises the ovum.
· Y chromosome determines development of glands which produces male androgens
(sex hormones)
· Up to the 6th week, foetuses have identical gonads (potential to develop into testes
or ovaries) Y chromosome then, if present, produces a protein causing
undifferentiated gonads to develop into testes and sets path for male development.
If the protein is not present normal female development will continue.
· Two parts to the undifferentiated gonads; The Wolfain System (potential to develop
into male sex organs) and The Mullerain System (potential to develop into female
sex organs). One part develops in the third month, other part dies away, determined
by hormones secreted by the testes, if present they produce androgens which
cause Wolfain to develop, if not Mullerain develops
· Two androgens involved in masculinisation - testosterone and dihydrotestosterone
- prenatally they influence development of male sex organs and masculinise the
brain, at puberty they're responsible for activating sex organs
Clear that prenatal exposure to hormones effects biological development of sex, yet as
psychologists we must now consider how significant their influence is to gender
development and if gender appropriate behaviour is a result of hormonal influence or
· To determine if biological or social factors had a bigger influence on gender
appropriate behaviour a good scientist could take a `normal' child and raise it as the
opposite sex and see if it turned out psychological healthy as that gender - this
however could have huge ethical implications on child's wellbeing
· Case studies provide evidence for this, but very rare and so hard to generalise
*Bruce, Brenda, Riemer (Money, 1972)
*Imperato McGinley et al. (1974)
· Provide persuasive evidence that biology is most powerful factor on physical and
psychological gender development - genetics and hormonal influences cannot be
overridden by socialisation
· Milton Diamond born with instinctive sets of behaviours. Rat experiments in 1950s,
injected testosterone prenatally, effect on female offspring - male like genitalia,
attempted to mate with other females
· Money and Ehrdart (1972) naturalistic, children with adrenogenital syndrome due to
mother's hormone treatment during pregnancy, female foetuses exposed to
androgens in utero later showed masculine behaviour compared to control
· Gorski (1980) testosterone effects brain structure, identified Sexually Dimorphic
Nucleus (SDN) in rats - twice as big in males as females. Animal welfare - repeated

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Diamond's experiment then examined the brain's of the rats. Female's SDNs
resembled the size of a male's, had been effected in the womb and could therefore
be the cause behind the behaviour.…read more


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