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Mendola, PhD
Touro College 1
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Chapter 5: Gender
Outline
• Biological, Social, and Cognitive Influences on Gender
– Biological Influences on Gender
– Social Influences on Gender
– Cognitive Influences on Gender
• Gender Stereotypes, Similarities, and Differences
– Gender Stereotyping
– Gender Similarities and Differences
– Gender Controversy
– Gender in Context

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Chapter 5: Gender
Outline
• Gender-Role Classification
– Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny
– Context, Culture, and Gender Roles
– Androgyny and Education
– Traditional Masculinity and Problem Behaviors in
Adolescent Males
– Gender-Role Transcendence
• Developmental Changes and Junctures
– Early Adolescence and Gender Intensification
– Is Early Adolescence a Critical Juncture for Females?
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Preview

• What exactly is meant by gender?


• Gender: The characteristics of people as males and
females
• Few aspects of adolescents’ lives are more central to their
identity and to their social relationships than gender
• One aspect of gender bears special mention
– Gender role: A set of expectations that prescribes how
females and males should think, act, and feel
• For example, should males be more assertive than
females, and should females be more sensitive than
males to others’ feelings?
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Preview

• Though individuals become aware of gender early in


childhood, a new dimension is added to gender with the
onset of puberty and the sexual maturation it brings
• This chapter begins with a discussion of the biological,
as well as the social and cognitive influences on gender
• We will distinguish gender stereotypes from actual
differences between the sexes and examine the range of
gender roles that adolescents can adopt
• The chapter closes by exploring the developmental
changes in gender that characterize adolescence

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Biological, Social, and Cognitive
Influences on Gender
• Biological Influences on Gender
– Pubertal Change and Sexuality
– Freud and Erikson – Anatomy is Destiny
– Evolutionary Psychology and Gender
• Social Influences on Gender
– Parental Influences
– Siblings
– Peers
– Schools and Teachers
– Mass Media Influences
• Cognitive Influences on Gender 6
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Biological Influences on Gender

• Pubertal change and sexuality


– Puberty intensifies the sexual aspects of adolescents’ gender
attitudes and behavior (Galambos, Berenbaum, & McHale,
2009)
– Few attempts have been made to relate puberty’s sexual
changes to gender behavior
• Researchers have found, however, that sexual behavior is related to
hormonal changes during puberty, at least for boys (Udry, 1990)

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Biological Influences on Gender

• Freud and Erikson – Anatomy is destiny


– Both Freud and Erikson argued that an individual’s genitals
influence his or her gender behavior
– Freud believed that gender and sexual behavior are
essentially unlearned and instinctual
• Erikson extended Freud’s argument, but later modified his view
– Critics stress that experience is not given enough credit and
that females and males are more free to choose their gender
roles than Freud and Erikson allow

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Biological Influences on Gender

• Evolutionary psychology and gender


– Evolutionary psychologists argue that primarily because of
their differing roles in reproduction, males and females
faced different pressures in primeval environments when
the human species was evolving (Geary, 2010)
• This evolutionary unfolding explains key gender differences in
sexual attitudes and sexual behavior

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Biological Influences on Gender

– Critics argue:
• Evolutionary psychologists’ hypotheses are backed by speculations
about prehistory, not evidence
• That people are not locked into behavior that was adaptive in the
evolutionary past
• That the evolutionary view pays little attention to cultural and
individual variations in gender differences (Brannon, 2012; Matlin,
2012)

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Social Influences on Gender

• Many social scientists argue that psychological gender


differences are due mainly to social experiences
• Alice Eagly (2001, 2010) proposed social role theory
– Gender differences mainly result from the contrasting roles
of females and males
• In most cultures around the world, females have less power and
status than males have, and they control fewer resources (UNICEF,
2011)
• As women adapted to roles with less power and less status in
society, they showed more cooperative, less dominant profiles than
men (Eagly, 2010)

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Social Influences on Gender

• Parents
– By their action and example, parents influence their
children’s and adolescents’ gender development (Maccoby,
2007)
– Parents allow boys more independence than girls
– Parents may also have different achievement expectations
for their adolescent sons and daughters, especially in
academic areas such as math and science (Leaper &
Friedman, 2007)
– Mothers and fathers also often interact differently with their
sons and daughters (Bronstein, 2006)

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Social Influences on Gender

• Social cognitive theory has been especially important in


understanding social influences on gender (Bugental &
Grusec, 2006; Bussey & Bandura, 1999)
• The social cognitive theory of gender emphasizes that
children’s and adolescents’ gender development is
influenced by:
– Their observation and imitation of others’ gender behavior
– The rewards and punishments they experience for gender-
appropriate and gender-inappropriate behavior

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Social Influences on Gender

• Siblings
– Play a role in gender socialization (Galambos, Berenbaum,
& McHale, 2009)
• Peers
– Parents provide the first models of gender behavior, but
before long peers also are responding to and modeling
masculine and feminine behavior (Rubin & others, 2011)
– Adolescents spend increasing amounts of time with peers
(Brown & others, 2008)

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Social Influences on Gender
– Peer approval or disapproval is a powerful influence on
gender attitudes and behavior (Prinstein & Dodge, 2010)
– Peers can socialize gender behavior partly by accepting or
rejecting others on the basis of their gender-related
attributes

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Social Influences on Gender

• Schools and teachers


– There are concerns that schools and teachers have biases
against both boys and girls (Arms, Bickett, & Graf, 2008)
– Might same-sex education be better for children than coed
education?
• The research evidence related to this question is mixed (Blakemore,
Berenbaum, & Liben, 2009)

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Social Influences on Gender

• Mass media influences


– The messages about gender roles carried by the mass media
are important influences on adolescents’ gender
development (Straubhaar, LaRose, & Davenport, 2011)
– Television shows directed at adolescents are extremely
stereotyped in their portrayal of the sexes, especially
teenage girls (Comstock & Scharrer, 2006)
– Another highly stereotyped form of programming that
specifically targets teenage viewers is music videos
(Roberts & Foehr, 2008)

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Social Influences on Gender
– Early adolescence may be a period of heightened sensitivity
to television messages about gender roles
– The world of television is highly gender-stereotyped and
conveys clear messages about the relative power and
importance of women and men (Calvert, 2008)
– The media influence adolescents’ body images, and some
studies reveal gender differences in this area (Grabe &
Hyde, 2009)

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Cognitive Influences on Gender

• Observation, imitation, rewards, and punishment are the


mechanisms by which gender develops according to social
cognitive theory
– Some critics who adopt a cognitive approach argue that this
explanation pays too little attention to the child’s own mind
and understanding, and portrays the child as passively
acquiring gender roles (Martin, Ruble, & Szkrybalo, 2002)

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Cognitive Influences on Gender

• Gender schema theory: Gender-typing emerges as


children and adolescents gradually develop gender
schemas of what is gender-appropriate and gender-
inappropriate in their culture (Martin & Ruble, 2010)
– Children and adolescents are internally motivated to
perceive the world and to act in accordance with their
developing schemas

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Gender Stereotypes, Similarities, and
Differences

• Gender Stereotyping
• Gender Similarities and Differences
– oPhysical Similarities and Differences
– Cognitive Similarities and Differences
– Socioemotional Similarities and Differences
• Gender Controversy
• Gender in Context

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Gender Stereotyping

• Gender stereotypes: General impressions and beliefs


about females and males
• Recent research has found that gender stereotypes are, to a
great extent, still present in today’s world, in the lives of
both children and adults (Best, 2010; Matlin, 2012; Wood,
2011)
• Researchers also have found that boys’ gender stereotypes
are more rigid than girls’ (Blakemore, Berenbaum, &
Liben, 2009)
• Researchers continue to find that gender stereotyping is
pervasive (Blakemore, Berenbaum, & Liben, 2009;
Leaper & Bigler, 2011; Martin, 2012) 22
McGraw-Hill Copyright © 2012 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Gender Stereotyping

• Gender stereotypes: General impressions and beliefs


about females and males
• Recent research has found that gender stereotypes are, to a
great extent, still present in today’s world, in the lives of
both children and adults (Best, 2010; Matlin, 2012; Wood,
2011)
• Researchers also have found that boys’ gender stereotypes
are more rigid than girls’ (Blakemore, Berenbaum, &
Liben, 2009)
• Researchers continue to find that gender stereotyping is
pervasive (Blakemore, Berenbaum, & Liben, 2009;
Leaper & Bigler, 2011; Martin, 2012) 23
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Gender Similarities and Differences

• What is the reality behind gender stereotypes?


• When examining the differences between the sexes, keep
the following in mind:
– The differences are average and do not apply to all females
or all males
– Even when gender differences occur, there often is
considerable overlap between males and females,
especially in cognitive and socioemotional development
– The differences may be due primarily to biological factors,
to sociocultural factors, or to both

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Physical Similarities and Differences

• Physical traits and health


• Brain structure and activity
– Much of the research on gender similarities and
differences in the brain have been conducted with adults
rather than children or adolescents (Lenroot & Giedd,
2010)
– Although some gender differences in brain structure and
function have been found many of these differences are
either small or research is inconsistent regarding the
differences (Hyde, 2007)

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Cognitive Similarities and Differences

• No gender differences occur in overall intellectual ability –


but in some cognitive areas, gender differences do appear
(Blakemore, Berenbaum, & Liben, 2009; Galambos,
Berenbaum, & McHale, 2009)
• Verbal, math, and visuospatial skills
– Some experts in gender, such as Janet Shibley Hyde (2005,
2007) conclude that the cognitive differences between
females and males have been exaggerated
• Reading and writing
• Schooling and achievement

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Figure 5.1

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Figure 5.2

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Socioemotional Similarities and
Differences
• Are “men from Mars” and “women from Venus”?
– No
– Males and females are not so different that they should be
thought of as being from different planets (Perry & Pauletti,
2011)
• Aggression
• Communication in relationships
• Prosocial behavior
• Emotion and its regulation

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Gender Controversy

• Evolutionary psychologists such as David Buss (2012)


argue that gender differences are extensive and caused by
the adaptive problems they have faced across their
evolutionary history
• Alice Eagly (2010) also concludes that gender differences
are substantial but emphasizes that they are due to social
conditions that have resulted in women having less power
and controlling fewer resources than men

30
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Gender Controversy

• Janet Shibley Hyde (2005, 2007) concludes that gender


differences have been greatly exaggerated, especially
fueled by popular books
– A recent research review also concluded that gender
differences in adolescence are quite small (Perry & Pauletti,
2011)

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Gender in Context

• Gender behavior often varies across contexts (Eagly,


2010; Perry & Pauletti, 2011)
• Contextual variations regarding gender in specific
situations are found not only within a particular culture
but also across cultures (Shiraev & Levy, 2010)

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Gender-Role Classification

• Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny


• Context, Culture, and Gender Roles
• Androgyny and Education
• Traditional Masculinity and Problem Behaviors in
Adolescent Males
• Gender-Role Transcendence

33
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Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny

• In the past:
– A well-adjusted boy was supposed to be independent,
aggressive, and powerful
– A well-adjusted girl was supposed to be dependent,
nurturant, and uninterested in power
– Masculine characteristics were considered to be healthy
and good by society; feminine characteristics were
considered undesirable

34
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Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny

• In the 1970s, as both males and females became


dissatisfied with the burdens imposed by their stereotyped
roles, alternatives to “masculinity” and “femininity” were
explored
• This thinking led to the development of the concept of
androgyny
– Androgyny: The presence of a high degree of masculine
and feminine characteristics in the same individual (Bem,
1977; Spence & Helmreich, 1978)
• Androgynous women and men, according to Bem, are
more flexible and more mentally healthy than either
masculine or feminine individuals 35
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Figure 5.4

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Context, Culture, and Gender Roles

• The concept of gender-role classification involves a


personality-trait-like categorization of a person
• However, it is important to think of personality in terms
of both traits and contexts rather than personality traits
alone (Friedman & Schustack, 2001)

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Context, Culture, and Gender Roles

• The importance of considering gender in context is


nowhere more apparent than when examining what is
culturally prescribed behavior for females and males in
different countries around the world (Gibbons, 2000)
– In the last 30 to 40 years in the United States, a decline in
the adoption of traditional gender roles has occurred

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Figure 5.5

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Context, Culture, and Gender Roles

• But traditional gender roles continue to dominate the


cultures of many countries around the world today
• Access to education for girls has improved somewhat
around the world, but girls’ education still lags behind
boys’ education
• Despite these gender gaps, evidence of increasing gender
equality is appearing

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Androgyny and Education

• Can and should androgyny be taught to students?


• In general, it is easier to teach androgyny to girls than to
boys and easier to teach it before the middle school
grades
• Despite such mixed findings, advocates of androgyny
programs argue that traditional sex-typing is harmful for
all students and especially has prevented many girls from
experiencing equal opportunity

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Traditional Masculinity and Problem
Behaviors in Adolescent Boys

• An increasing number of gender theorists and researchers


conclude that there is a negative side to traditional
masculinity (Levant, 2001)
• William Pollack (1999) in his book Real Boys says that
little has been done to change what he calls the “boy
code”
– Too often boys are socialized to not show their feelings
and to act tough
– Pollack, as well as many others, notes that boys would
benefit from being socialized to express anxieties and
concerns rather than keep them bottled up, as well as to
learn how to better regulate their aggression
42
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Traditional Masculinity and Problem
Behaviors in Adolescent Boys

• There also is a special concern about boys who adopt a


strong masculine role in adolescence, because this is
increasingly being found to be associated with problem
behaviors
• Joseph Pleck (1995) concludes that what defines
traditional masculinity in many Western cultures includes
behaviors that do not have social approval but
nonetheless validate the adolescent boy’s masculinity:
– Premarital sex
– Alcohol and drugs
– Illegal delinquent activities
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Gender-Role Transcendence

• Critics of androgyny stress that androgyny is less of a


panacea than originally envisioned (Paludi, 2002)
• An alternative is gender-role transcendence: The view
that when an individual’s competence is at issue, it
should be conceptualized on a person basis rather than
on the basis of masculinity, femininity, or androgyny
(Pleck, 1983)

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Developmental Changes and Junctures

• Early Adolescence and Gender Intensification


• Is Early Adolescence a Critical Juncture for Females?

45
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Early Adolescence and Gender
Intensification
• Some theorists and researchers have proposed that, with
the onset of puberty, girls and boys experience an
intensification in gender-related expectations (Basow,
2006)
• Gender intensification hypothesis: Psychological and
behavioral differences between boys and girls become
greater during early adolescence because of increased
socialization pressures to conform to traditional masculine
and feminine gender roles (Hill & Lynch, 1983; Lynch,
1991)

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Early Adolescence and Gender
Intensification
– The jury is still out on the validity of this hypothesis, but
recent research has raised questions about its accuracy
(Galambos, Berenbaum, & McHale, 2009)
– As adolescent boys and girls grow older, they tend to show
less stereotypic gender behavior

47
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Is Early Adolescence a Critical Juncture for
Girls?
• Carol Gilligan argues that girls experience life differently
from boys; in her words, girls have a “different voice”
– In early adolescence, girls become aware that the male-
dominated culture does not value their intense interest in
intimacy
– The dilemma is that girls are presented with a choice that
makes them appear either selfish or selfless
– As young girls struggle with this dilemma, they begin to
“silence” their “different voice”

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Is Early Adolescence a Critical Juncture for
Girls?
• Criticisms
– Gilligan and her colleagues overemphasize differences in
gender (Dindia, 2006; Hyde, 2007)
– Gilligan’s research strategy rarely includes a comparison
group of boys or statistical analysis
– Gilligan’s findings reinforce stereotypes

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Is Early Adolescence a Critical Juncture for
Girls?
• There is increasing evidence that adolescence is a critical
juncture in the psychological development of females
(Basow, 2006)
– Keep in mind, though, as was discussed in Chapter 4, that
some psychologists conclude that gender differences in self-
esteem in adolescence are quite small (Harter, 2006; Hyde,
2007)

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E-LEARNING TOOLS

To help you master the material in this chapter,


visit the Online Learning Center for Adolescence,
14th edition at:
http://www.mhhe.com/santrocka14e

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