Gender essay

Gender essay

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  • Created on: 12-06-12 11:31
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The biological approach suggests that gender is determined by chromosomes and hormones. It
suggests that these influence our gender development.
Males and females are determined by genetic sex. Males have XY chromosomes and females
have XXY chromosomes. During prenatal development, all individuals begin the same with female
genitialia, however it is the production of hormones during the parental development that then
determine whether the embryo is male or female.
However in prenatal development, some individuals can have abnormal hormone levels that lead
them to becoming inter sex individuals. This can be caused by the body tissue not responding to
testosterone, this is called Androgeny insensitivity syndrome. (AIS) Support for this came from the
Batista children, where although they were born genetically male, they looked externally female.
These children were then raised as females, however during puberty there male genitalia began to
The biological approach to gender also says males and females have different brain development,
for example, a female is better at socialising than a male is. Greschwind and Galabura suggested
that this was due to testosterone on the brain. Support for this came from the case of David
Reimer, who although born genetically male was raised as a female. Reimer said that he always
felt like a boy in a girls body, giving support that the testosterone on the brain influences different
brain development for each gender. However, this was a case study on one individual so cannot be
representative for all individuals.
However, John Money said that it wasn't biology that influenced gender development, however it
was nurture as well. This was supported by Reiner and Gearhart that studies 16 genetic males,
raised as females. By the age of 16, 8 had reassigned themselves as males, and the other 6
remained females. This supports that it is both nurture and nature that influences gender
However, these studies can cause ethical issues as researchers are using intersex individuals
which can be more vulnerable than "normal" individuals.
It is also a reductionist approach as it reduces our behaviours and gender down to biology,
however doesn't take into account the behavioural approach which suggests we learn behaviours,
and gender through indirect learning.

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Evolutionary explanations of gender
1. Evoluntionary explanation in terms of DOL. Women ­ milk or pregnant unable to hunt.
2. Key to adaptive behaviour is reproductive success so mate choice is important factor in
evoluntionary process.
3. Men look for women ­ physically attractive ­ advertise fertility to ensure healthy offspring Women
­ high amounts of resource to protect her and offspring. When combined enhance reproductive
4.…read more

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Other support came from Ennis et al who conducted a natural experiment to test male/female
differences in stress response a week before an exam and on the exam date. They did this by
testing cortisol in the blood. The findings showed that males stress hormones rose more where as
females stress hormones decreased, suggesting that females do responsed to a stressful stimuli in
different ways.…read more

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Biosocial approach
1. Biosocial approach gender development comination of biology and environmental
2. Money ­ intersex individuals AID or mistyped as female, if treated as female before the age
of 3 then he will acquire the gender identity of a female ­ there fore gender development is
due too labelling.
3.…read more

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However the social role theory suggests that selective pressures only cause
physical differences leading to sex role allocations.
These social roles influence mate choice, as men select women who are nurturing and good at
domestic roles.Women maximise outcomes by selecting men who are high earners. The social role
theory says that biological differences mean men and women are good at different tasks.
Support for this came from Buss, who studied mate preferences in men and women.…read more

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Cognitive development theory
Kohlberg suggested that gender development is a cognitive developmental theory, and is through
three stages, labelling, stability and constancy. This is known as the constancy theory.
1. During the gender labelling phase, (23 yr olds) children label themselves and others as
male or female dependant on their appearance. For example, if a boy grows his hair, he
would then think he had turned into a girl.
2.…read more

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This is supported by Martin and Little, who found that children under the age of 4 showed no signs
of gender stability let alone signs of constancy, however, they had fix gender stereotypes,
supporting gender schema theory.
Martin and Halverson found that when children were asked to recall pictures of people, children
under 6 could remember more gender appropriate pictures (female teacher, male fire fighter) than
gender inappropriate pictures (male nurse, female doctor) providing support that children only focus
on in group processes.…read more

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Social influences on gender role
Social Learning Theory (Bandura and Walters) applied social learning theory to gender role
development in three modes of influence modelling, enactive representation, and direct tuition.
Modelling, isn't just imitating someone's behaviour, in terms of gender, children must be able to
divide people into male and female groups, recognising similarities and differences between the
two groups. Children learn from both behaviours, however only perform the behaviours of the sex
appropriate to their own.…read more

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However, this study doesn't take into account any biological aspects, and the fact that genetic and
hormonal balances may affect the way in which we behave.
Cross cultural studies of gender roles
Cross culture studies look into all different cultures, such as collective cultures, industrialised and
individualistic cultures. They do this to see whether gender is the same in cross cultures, or whether
it is different, making it socialisation (nurture) which influences the development of Gender.…read more


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