Cultural and Social factors influencing Gender

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Cultural Factors influencing Gender
Margaret Mead
Social groups in Papua New Guinea: expression of gender roles in different ways.
Arapesh: men and women were gentle.
Mundugumar: men and women were both aggressive.
Tchambuli: women were dominant and aggressive, men were caring and gentle.
Mead later changed her view as she found that in all societies men were more aggressive than women.
Behaviours are innate and universal but the degrees to which these behaviours are expressed
are relative to the culture.
Williams and Best
Conducted a study on gender stereotypes in 30 countries; including 2,800 university students. Given
300 word adjective checklist and asked whether particular word was associated with male or females.
Males being seen as more dominant and women seem as nurturing ­ universal gender stereotypes?
Could this have something to do with biology?
Cultural Dimensions
Hofstede identified `dimensions of national cultures': these are factors by which similarities and
differences between cultures can be measured.
Two key variables leading to differences in gender roles are: masculinity vs. femininity (explicitly) and
individualism vs. collectivism.
Chang et al.
Study of 145 USA & 173 Chinese students.
Americans emphasised importance of equality at work
Chinese importance of equality at home and in the family
China is a communist country where work equality is taken for granted?
Cultural Variations

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Significant variation that Mead describes as `cultural relativism'.
Historical changes in domestic duties between sexes.
o The gender gap is decreasing: supports the role of changing social influences across
Issues into cultural research
Imposed emic and etic:
An etic construct is a theoretical idea that is assumed to apply in all cultural groups.
An emic construct is one that applies only in one cultural group.
Cultural bias can occur if a researcher assumes that an emic construct is actually etic.…read more

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Fagot et al.
o 4 year old child given gender labelling task to see if they had acquired gender
o Children in traditional families showed gender labelling earlier and showed more
stereotyping than egalitarian families.
Social desirability in parent for parental type?
Hawthorne Effect (changed behaviour under observation)
Media ­ easiest section imv.
"Young children are especially vulnerable to the teachings of media because they don't have the critical
capacity necessary to distinguish between fantasy and reality.…read more

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Children are much harsher when it comes to gender-role behaviour. If you do not express the right type
of behaviour it is likely that you are to be shunned for it.…read more


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