Gender Differences

Gender refers to the differences and disparity between males and females. Gender roles, meanwhile, refers to the social differences between males and females. Gender differences may either be innate or inherent or it can also be caused by a multitude of factors such as the environment or through socialization, etc. There have been numerous debates and arguments regarding the differences between men and women and it gave rise to a lot of experiments and studies to prove that differences do exist in almost all aspects such as physical attributes, emotional characteristics, risks for diseases, longevity, and many others.

There are also studies which attempts to prove that there is actually very little or no difference at all between men and women. Over the years, a lot of theories regarding gender differences have surfaced. In gender socialization theory, people join either one of the social groups: males or females. People are influenced and actually learn from their peers these things such as how to behave, what values to believe in, the norms of the group, and sometimes even their beliefs.

A very evident difference between men and women is their physical structure which is called Biological Differences. Males and females have different sexual organs and chromosomes. The average man is also taller, heavier and stronger compared to the average woman. A man is a visual person while a woman picks up auditory information. Women also tend to outlive men, the reasons for which are still unknown. According to Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory, the first three years of a person’s life is critical in the development of Gender Identity.

At this stage, children learn to identify with the parent of the same sex while they learn to develop a complementary relationship with the parent of the opposite sex (Yarthouse, 2001). The child’s awareness regarding the differences between the sexes is developed and he/she perceives that he is either male or female. The Sociobiology Theory, meanwhile, postulates that males and females differ in behavior due to their differences in physiology which is rooted in human evolution and biology.

Women, for example, tend to be attracted to men who can adequately provide for a family and give her the security that she and her child needs and prefer to be involved in a monogamous relationship. Men, on the other hand, prefer women who are sexual and they are more likely to be polygamous. Furthermore, men and women showed very little difference when it comes to cognitive ability or psychological characteristics although men tend to engage more in risky behavior than women.

In personality traits, women are individuals who “feel” while men are individuals who “think. ” In terms of aggression, men express their aggression in a physical manner (Bjorkqvist et al. 1994) while females express theirs in verbally or in a less obvious way (Bjorkqvist et al. 1994, Hines and Saudino 2003). Men also excel in analyzing and organizing systems, structures and rules while women are more inclined to empathize with other people and be more in-tune with their emotions. A hot topic for debate regarding gender differences is intelligence.

It is said that men have a higher IQ than women and they perform better on mathematical and spatial tests while women excel in tests that challenge their memory and verbal skills. Men’s IQ have greater variance which means that their IQ score tend to be either very high or very low while women are relatively consistent with their scores, which falls in the average level. Regarding communication styles, women love to talk with other people and they usually do it while facing each other and making eye contact.

Women can also talk at length about any one topic and they are not hesitant to express their sentiments and opinions regarding the topic at hand. Men, on the other hand, tend to look away from each other and talk about a variety of subjects. They tend to pay more attention and listen silently although they are more inclined to argue their point regarding the topic they were talking about. In committing suicide, women are more likely to attempt doing this while men are more likely to succeed in committing suicide at their first attempt.

The reason behind this is that when women try to commit suicide, it is more or less a cry for attention and help and not really because they truly want to end their lives. Women also tend to choose les painful ways to commit suicide such as downing a bottle of pills or cutting their wrists and there is a chance that they can be saved specially when discovered early. Men, however, truly want to end their lives once they try to commit suicide and they choose a fast and efficient way to do it such as shooting themselves.

In a study entitled “Large-Sample, Single Experiment Estimates of the Size of Gender Differences on Visual Illusions, Maze Learning, and Mirror Drawing” by Kenneth O. McGraw, he attempted to establish gender differences on three visual illusions (Poggendorff, Mueller-Lyer, and Ponzo), a maze learning task, a dynamic line motion illusion, and a mirror drawing task. The conclusion from this study further established the long known fact that women are slower and less precise than their male counterparts in performing these spatial tasks.

Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Haifa conducted a study on 31 girls and boys, from ages 9 to 15 to in order to determine gender differences in their language abilities. These children were asked to perform spelling and writing tasks which were delivered in a visual and auditory manner. The children were asked to read certain words without hearing them and they were asked to listen to certain words without seeing them. A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine was then used by the researchers in order to determine and evaluate their brain activity during these tasks.

They find out that boys and girls used different parts of their brain when they carried out the tasks and that the language areas of the brain of girls work harder than those of the boys. These areas in the girls’ brain that work harder are also associated with abstract thinking while the boys’ brains actually depend on two areas: the visual and auditory areas meaning that boys may gain more knowledge from lectures through oral examinations and more knowledge of reading through written exams.

There are a lot of articles and resources stating the differences between males and females, however, there are a few who think that these differences can be easily disproved. As Sayers establishes: “When one examines this supposedly pure biological account of gender roles, one may find that they are rooted in appeal to social and, not biological, considerations” (Sayers 1982). For him, it is actually stereotyping when we just focus on the differences between males and females and not even considering the similarities. An example of this is the greater spatial abilities of men that were proven in many studies.

However, we should remember that some of the women also have this ability and even outperformed some of the men and another is aggression which is also a trait that is shared by women although men are likely to assume this role. A psychologist by the name of Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde from the Unversity of Wisconsin, claims that men and women are actually alike and she came up with what she calls a “gender similarities hypothesis. ’ Nowadays, the media really creates a lot of hype and one of the things that it depicts are gender differences between men and women.

Hyde states that these are misconceptions because they lack proof. The unfortunate thing about this is that it can affect each person as how they are as parents and partners both in the workplace and in their own abodes. This is exemplified by studies conducted that states women who work and do not follow the stereotype of a feminine and very caring person can send negative vibes and it may cost them to be unfairly judged during job interviews and evaluations. There are also a lot of books and magazines that state women and men will never get along because they have different ways of communicating.

Hyde suggests that this is sort of pre-empting the situation so that it actually becomes true when in fact the reason that this happens is that people now think that that’s just the way it is. Hyde observed that gender differences actually have very minimal effect on the variables being examined. Furthermore, Hyde found out that gender differences seem to depend on the perspective of what is being measured. It was postulated by researchers that gender roles will determine a person’s course of action.

This is exemplified by one experiment that was performed wherein participants were informed that they will not be identified as either men or women during the course of the experiment, and they did not also wear any identification. When results were reviewed, it was found out that none of those people corresponded to stereotypes of their gender when they had the opportunity to become aggressive. In fact, the opposite of what was expected happened wherein women became more aggressive and men became more passive Hyde is not alone in her view as another psychologist, Dr.

Diane Halpern, PhD, of Claremont College and former president (2005) of the American Psychological Association, states that “although it is true that there are certain differences between men and women, this does not hold true for everyone because there will always be an interplay of various aspects such as biological, genetic and environmental factors. These differences are also used to support prejudices among women so we should not be quick to make conclusions. Fausto, Sterling, A. Myths of Gender, Biological Theories about Women and Men. Basic Books, New York, 1992, p.

269 Hyde, J. S. , Fennema, E. , & Lamon, S. “Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. ” Psychological Bulletin, 1990, pages 107, 139-155. Hyde, J. S. “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis”. American Psychologist, 2005, Vol. 60, No. 6. Kreeger, K. Y. “X and Y Chromosomes Concern more than Reproduction”, Feb. 4, 2002. The Scientist. 16[3]:25. June 17, 2008. <http://www. the-scientist. com> McGraw, Kenneth O. Large-Sample, Single Experiment Estimates of the Size of Gender Differences on Visual Illusions, Maze Learning, and Mirror Drawing <opl.

apa. org/Experiments/About/GenderDifferences. pdf > Northwestern University. “Boys’ and Girls’ Brain are Different: Gender Differences in Language Appear Biological” March 5, 2008. Science Daily June 17, 2008 <http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2008/03/080303120346. htm> Sayers. J. (1982) Biological Politics, Tavistock, London. Yarthouse MA: Sexual Identity Development: The influence of valuative 3 frameworks On Identity synthesis, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 2001. 38 (3); 331

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