Sex & Gender

  • Created by: Bananna20
  • Created on: 24-02-16 18:08

Key Terms

Sex - biological term which tells us if someone is male or female

Gender - the psychological term that tells us if someone is masculine, feminine or androgynous

Masculinity - behaviours and ideas considered to be male characterstics

Femininity - behaviours and ideas considered to be female characterstics

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Core theory: Biological Approach

Males                                                                                                                        Females

XY                      Embryo conceived with different sex chromosomes                **

Gonads - testes                            6 weeks, gonads develop              Gonads - ovaries

Testosterone                                Gonads produce hormones                     Oestrogen

Maths & map reading                      Hormones affect brain              English & speaking

Aggressive                                    Hormones affect behaviour                         Sensitive

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Core theory: Biological Approach (2)

Evolutionary theory

  • Women have 400 eggs so are choosier with partners
  • Women raise the child so are more caring and communicative
  • Men had to hunt and gather so are aggressive, athletic & spatially aware


  • Ignores that gender roles can be learnt
  • Different people have different traits - all men have XY chromosomes but masculinity varies
  • Gender roles can change - men and women are more androgynous now - men have more pride in appearance and men do 'male' jobs
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Alternative theory: Psychoanalytic approach

  • Freud believed early experiences & the unconscious mind help to develop sense ofbeing male or female
  • It states that between ages 3 and 6, a child lusts after its opposite sex parent which leads to them developing gender identity

Oedipus complex

  • The boy fears that the father will discover his lust for his mother and be angry
  • The boy thinks that the father will cut off his penis - castration anxiety
  • Boy identifies with father & develops gender identity

Electra complex

  • The girl desires her father and his penis - penis envy
  • Girl blames mother for not having a penis
  • Realises she won't get a penis so desires a baby instead - penis substitute
  • Girl identifies with mother & develops gender identity
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Core study: Diamond & Sigmundosn

  • Aim: to show that you can't be socialised into being the opposite sex
  • Method: case study
  • Participant: Bruce/Brenda/David Reimer
  • Procedure: at 8 months old, Bruce's penis was burnt off in a circumcision operation so he was raised as a girl, as suggested by Dr Money. His penis was reconstructed into a vagina and Bruce became Brenda.
  • Results: at puberty Brenda became more manly, liked sports and girls. At age 13 she was told she was born a boy and lived the rest of her life as David.
  • Conclusion: Gender is nature, not nurture so supports the biological theory.


  • Small sample - case study only based on one person's experiences - can't be generalised
  • Experimentor bias - Dr Money didn't publish all the findings - results he gave were a false representation of what really happened 
  • Lack of control - parents told to raise Bruce as a girl but the family had infrequent visits to Dr Money - had to take parents' word that Bruce was raised as Brenda
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Application: Equal Opportunites


  • In the 1980s males did better at school than females because females weren't encouraged to be successful as they were expected to be housewives
  • Now females do better than males at GCSEs and A-Levels - this called the gender gap
  • Boys are naturally disadvantaged at reading and girls are naturally disadvantaged at maths but are educated in the same way


  • Men went to work and womenwere expected to be housewives
  • Now women are more business-minded and work-orientated
  • However, men do better in the work place as they are paid more and get promotions


  • Sport was seen to be for men as it is male-dominated
  • Women are entitled to do the same sports but are paid a lot less
  • Given the same opportunities
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