PSYCHOLOGY 361Chapter 15: Gender Roles and Gender Differences
Know the bold-faced terms on pp. 586-587: Gender typing, gender-based beliefs, gender stereotypes, gender roles, gender identity, and gender-role preferences.
GENDER-ROLE STANDARDS AND STEREOTYPES
Parents have a role in socializing gender: Dress boys and girls differently, select toys based on gender, and often react negatively if they behave in ways they think are gender inappropriate.
As the chapter notes, the field continues to be very controversial. This is a prime example of a politically sensitive area'i.e., one where the attitudes of the scientists have to be scrutinized.
Females: relatively passive, , loving, sensitive, and supportive in social relationships,
especially in their family roles as wife and mother. Warmth in personal relationships, the
display of anxiety under pressure, and the suppression of overt aggression and sexuality
as more appropriate for women than men.
These stereotypes are true cross-culturally as well. This implies that the origins of these stereotypes does not lie in local cultures. But there are some variations. For example, African-American families encourage girls to be aggressive and assertive. On the other hand, the sex stereotypes that men are more aggressive than women and women more interpersonally sensitive than men are very robust, even among more educated people, both sexes, all social classes. (Probably because they are true!)
Age differences: Young children are especially rigid in gender stereotyping; children between ages 3-6 are more gender stereotypes than adults. This reflects a general tendency for young children to have rigid, absolutist sense of rules. (This is also the case in moral reasoning where young children allow no exceptions to rules like "stealing is bad.")
Education differences: In the US, females and college-educated women age 18-35 are more likely than older or less educated women to perceive female role as more assertive, independent, and achievement-striving.
Sex differences: Men are more likely to have traditional gender stereotypes
than women, especially if they are the sole wage earner in the family.
Fathers are more concerned that their children maintain behaviors appropriate
to their gender; fathers play a more important role than mothers in children's
Table 15-1, p. 590-591. Gender differences.
NOTE: There are overlaps in all of these areas so that, for example, some girls are more physically aggressive than some boys.
Physical Sex Differences:
* Girls more advanced physically throughout childhood; they mature earlier and their development stops sooner.
* Boys have larger lungs and heart, and they are superior at activities involving gross motor activities and strength; males more likely to suffer a wide range of developmental disorders (speech defects, ADHD, mental retardation), genetic defects (because of x-linkage; WHY?), and are more susceptible to malnutrition and disease.
*Boys are more physically active; in preschool they are more likely than girls to play in a physically active style in larger groups away from the teacher.
*Girls tend to have a few intimate friends;
*Boys have a larger number of "pals"'guys they hang out with but don't
have close, intimate, confiding relationships.
Cognitive Sex Differences:
*Girls superior at verbal abilities (vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal creativity) during early to middle childhood. These differences become attenuated as children get older, and disappear by adolescence.
* Boys have greater visual-spatial ability beginning around age 10.
(Visual-spatial ability is involved in manipulating objects in two- or
three-dimensional space, reading maps, aiming at a target.)
* Boys also excel at mathematics beginning around age 12.
* Some studies indicate that boys have a higher IQ on average than girls by late adolescence (~4 IQ points). Theory: Girls' development ends sooner than boys, and boys continue to develop. This is controversial.
Social Sex Differences:
* Boys more aggressive, especially physical aggression and direct verbal assault. (GO system) (Girls use indirect forms of aggression such as exclusion, negative gossip.)
*Boys more into risk-taking and sensation seeking as well as curiosity and exploratory behavior; boys attracted to physically dangerous occupations (Go system)
* Girls more compliant with demands of parents and teachers. (Conscientiousness, Affectional System)
*Girls more nurturant and dependent. (Affectional System) Infant girls more attracted to faces and may recognize mother's face earlier.
*Girls more fearful of possible personal threats and dangers. (Stop System) No sex differences for social phobias, or possibly more common among boys.
Sex Differences in Atypical Development:
* Boys more likely to have genetic defects, physical disabilities, mental retardation, reading disabilities, speech defects, and school and emotional problems.
* Boys are more likely to have genetic defects because of x-linkage: Boys only have one X-chromosome and therefore any recessive gene on the X-chromosome is expressed. Girls are likely to get a dominant normal gene from their father's X-chromosome.
* Boys are "the less canalized sex"'they are more open to environmental influences, including negative environmental influences. This may be seen as a high risk strategy. Boys are more vulnerable to stress such as family disharmony.
The evolutionary theory of sex (see below) implies that boys are expected
to be the high risk sex in general; this is related to the finding that
boys are more aggressive and more attracted to sensation seeking. Both
aggression and sensation seeking are high risk/high reward undertakings.
Figure 15-1: 15- to 36-month-old toddlers have clear preferences for toys that are "gender appropriate"; but girls are more likely than boys to choose "gender inappropriate" toys.
In general, the male role is more clearly defined: there is a narrower range of activities considered appropriate for males. Boys who play with "girl" toys or retreat in the face of aggression "fear derision" (p. 591). "Although we tolerate tomboys, we reject sissies" (pp. 591-592). The condemnation comes from both parents (especially fathers) and peers.
Based on survey data, boys in the US like guns, boxing, wrestling and
karate, team sports, and fixing and making things more than girls.
Girls prefer dolls, sewing, cooking, dancing, and looking after younger children more than boys.
Parents encourage these patterns by, for example, assigning household
tasks. "Even in the 21st century, girls are more likely to make beds, clean,
prepare meals, wash dishes, and do laundry. Boys are more likely to fix
things, take out the garbage, and mow lawns" (p. 592).
Masculinity and femininity develop early and are stable personality characteristics. (This is not surprising, since many of the traits that show sex differences are linked to personality systems.)
Becoming a parent results in a divergence of gender roles. Even among egalitarian couples who are committed to sharing household tasks equally, the onset of parenting means a return to traditional gender roles.
Figure 15-2 on p. 594: Note that the highest correlation between male
behaviors in childhood and adulthood were obtained for achievement orientation
in childhood and intellectual concerns in adulthood and for gender-typed
activities. In general, childhood-adulthood correlations for males are
higher than for females: Males are more stable, more predictable on the
basis of childhood behaviors.
Biological Factors in Gender Differences
HORMONES AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
Women have small amounts of the male hormone testosterone and men have small amounts of female hormones like progesterone and estrogen. In childhood, the differences are quite small, but they increase markedly in adolescents and adults.
There are two surges of hormones, prenatally and during adolescence. The surge of hormones prenatally affects behavior in childhood, and the surge during adolescence activates and enhances the early predispositions created by the prenatal surge.
Animal studies: Young, Goy, and Phoenix (1967) injected female monkeys with testosterone prenatally or around the time of birth. Genetic female offspring were pseudohermaphrodites. Their genitalia were more masculine (large clitoris), and their behavior was also masculine (more aggressive, more mounting behavior [a male mating behavior], more rough and tumble play, more socially dominant). Similar behaviors are elicited in genetically female rodents injected with testosterone.
NOTE: Levels of testosterone are also influenced by the animal's experience. Animals that have been repeatedly defeated in fighting have lowered testosterone, and winners have elevated testosterone as a result of their experience. This also occurs with humans: Winning an athletic event results in a surge in testosterone.
Human Studies: Girls who have received testosterone or testosterone-like hormones prenatally have masculinized behavior. These girls are genetic females but their genetalia are typically masculinized at birth (enlarged clitoris, fused labia that resemble a scrotum). They often receive an operation to make her appear more feminine. These girls have masculinized behavior: Tomboyish, liked vigorous athletic activities, simply utilitarian clothing; little interest in dolls, babysitting, or caring for younger children, jewelry, cosmetics, or hair styles. They also had a more male-type achievement pattern and male-type attitudes toward sexuality. They preferred boys as playmates and boys' toys.
HORMONES AND COGNITIVE SKILLS
* There is evidence for a critical period for brain organization and hemisphere lateralization (males more lateralized). Testosterone surge prenatally is responsible. This surge makes females process verbal information better and males process spatial information better.
Female fetuses exposed to abnormally high levels of androgens are better at spatial abilities.
Light bulb in a car going uphill:
Male advantage is only found for spatial (geometric) ability, not for computational ability, basic math skills or algebra.
Biological influences do not rule out environmental influences. Text notes that the differences are relatively small (but small differences lead to large differences in proportions at the high end of the distribution). Girls enroll in progressively fewer math courses over the high school and college years. Even girls with superior math ability seem less interested in math as they get older (e.g., 34% of advanced physics classes). But the gender gap is narrowing.
* Brain becomes increasingly specialized with age, with right hemisphere more specialized for spatial tasks and left hemisphere more specialized for verbal tasks. Women who suffer left hemisphere damage are less likely to have damage to verbal abilities.
* In a task where children had to identify objects inside a bag, sight unseen, boys were better when feeling with their left hand (controlled by the spatial centers in the right hemisphere). For girls there was no difference between hands in their ability to identify objects.
* In a rhyming task where subjects were asked if nonsense words rhymed,
both sides of women's brains were activated. For men, only the left hemisphere
(underlying verbal abilities) was activated.
1.) KOHLBERG'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY
a.) Child notices physical and behavioral clues, and classifies herself as a girl;
b.) the child then finds it rewarding to behave in gender-appropriate manner and imitate same-gender models.
EXAMPLE: A girl says, "I am a girl because I am more like my mother and other girls than like boys; therefore I want to dress like a girl, play girl games, and feel and think like a girl."
A.) Gender identity: Recognizing that you are a boy or a girl; this then organizes incoming information. This occurs between age 2 and 3. Recent research: Even in early infancy, babies male and female faces as being in different categories; but they don't think of themselves as being in one category or the other. By age 2, they identify traits as being male or female (men wear ties), but they do not see themselves as a belonging to a gender category until about age 3.
B.) Gender stability: Child accepts the idea that males remain male
and females remain female; e.g., a girl will no longer think she will grow
up to be like her father or Batman. This occurs between ages 4 and 5. Children
of this age still have some gaps in their understanding. Two 4-year-olds:
Jeremy wears a barrette to nursery school. Another boy accuses him of being a girl because "only girls wear barrettes." Jeremy pulls down his pants to show that he really is a boy. The other boy replies, "Everyone has a penis; only girls wear barrettes."
C.) Gender constancy: Recognizing that superficial changes in appearance or in activities will not change a person's gender. A boy who wears a dress is still a boy; a girl who plays football is still a girl. A child who understands gender constancy would not suppose that wearing a barrette makes one a girl.
This theory has been empirically confirmed cross-culturally.
2.) GENDER-SCHEMA THEORY: AN INFORMATION-PROCESSING APPROACH
Children develop schemas or naive theories that help them organize gender differences and gender roles. They tell children what kinds of information to look for in the environment and how to interpret this information.
EXAMPLE: 5- and 6-year-old children shown gender-consistent (boy playing with train) or gender-inconsistent (girl sawing wood). A week later, children distorted the information from the gender inconsistent pictures: They said that they had seen a boy sawing wood. Memory for gender consistent pictures was better, and children were more sure that they remembered it correctly. Boys who have gender constancy pay more attention to TV characters of the same sex.
Gender schemas are more important for younger children because their schemas are more rigid. Some people are more "gendered" in their thinking than others.
3.) COMPARISON OF KOHLBERG'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL AND GENDER-SCHEMA THEORIES
Kohlberg predicts that achievement of gender constancy should influence
children's gender-typed choices. As a result, it predicts that before age
5-7 there should be little or no preference for gender-typed activities.
This is massively contradicted by observation of children's behavior.
Gender schema theory does not make this prediction. It proposes that children simply need to be aware of basic information about gender, such as identifying activities as gender appropriate. Children who identify themselves as being a boy or a girl engage in more gender-appropriate behavior, and they do this around age 2'way before they achieve gender stability or constancy. Achievement of gender identity is sufficient to result in gender-typed play.
Some data indicate that children engage in gender-typed play before
they have gender identity. This is compatible with biological theories
that boys are simply attracted to certain types of toys and activities
independent of cultural labeling.
EVOLUTIONARY THEORY OF SEX
1.) MALES DEFINED AS SEX WITH SMALL GAMETES, FEMALES ARE SEX WITH LARGE
2.) FEMALES TEND TO INVEST MORE IN REPRODUCTION THAN MALES.
TYPICAL MAMMALIAN FEMALE: PREGNANCY, LACTATION,
CAREGIVING'VERY HIGH COST IN TIME AND ENERGY
TYPICAL MAMMALIAN MALE: SPERM'VERY LOW COST
3.) ECONOMICS 101: WHEN YOU HOLD VALUABLE RESOURCES, YOU DON'T GIVE THEM AWAY.
FEMALES EXPECTED TO BE SELECTIVE, DISCRIMINATING MATERS
ˆò MALES WHO WILL INVEST IN OFFSPRING,
ˆò MALES WITH GOOD GENES, HIGH SOCIAL STATUS, ETC.
4.) ECONOMICS 101: MALES DO NOT HOLD RESOURCES. THEREFORE THEY MUST COMPETE IN ORDER TO GET THEM. THIS RESULTS IN THE PREDICTION THAT MALES WILL BE MORE AGGRESSIVE.
IN GENERAL, MALES MUST COMPETE FOR FEMALES, AND THE MAIN OBSTACLE IS OTHER MALES:
ˆò ELEPHANT SEALS: DEFEATING MALES IN COMBAT
ˆò CHINESE EMPERORS: CONTROLLING MALES AND FEMALES
ˆò MOVIE STARS
ˆò SUCCESFUL HUNTERS in hunter-gatherer societies;
ˆò RICH MEN IN ALL SOCIETIES ARE ATTRACTIVE TO FEMALES (The Anna Nicole Smith
MALES HAVE MORE TO GAIN BY BEING HIGH ON AGGRESSION, RISK-TAKING, SENSATION-SEEKING, SOCIAL DOMINANCE: SUCCESSFUL MALE CAN MATE POLYGYNOUSLY,
SUCCESSFUL FEMALE CAN MATE ONLY ONCE.
EVEN IN A MONOGAMOUS SYSTEM, SUCCESSFUL MALES WILL HAVE ACCESS TO HIGHER
QUALITY FEMALES (MORE NURTURANT, MORE PRONE TO FIDELITY, HIGHER INTELLIGENCE,
ETC.) RISK-TAKING AND SOCIAL DOMINANCE PAY OFF MORE FOR MEN.
THEREFORE MEN GAIN MORE BY CONTROLLING SOCIETY (PATRIARCHY), AND THEY GAIN MORE BY GOING TO WAR.
WHEN GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MONGOLS CONQUERED MOST OF ASIA, THEY REALIZED AN ENORMOUS GENETIC PAYOFF BECAUSE THEY ESTABLISHED HAREMS WHEREVER THEY WENT.
THE MONGOL Y-CHROMOSOME IS STILL FOUND AT HIGH FREQUENCIES IN ALL THE AREAS THEY CONQUERED.
A MONGOL FEMALE WOULD NOT HAVE SIMILARLY BENEFITED BY THIS SORT OF CONQUEST.
FEMALES ADOPT A MORE CONSERVATIVE STRATEGY:
HIGHER ON FEAR, BEHAVIORAL INHIBITION.
FEMALES ALSO EXPECTED TO BE MORE NURTURANT AND LOVING AS MATE DISCRIMINATION
SYSTEM (females benefit by choosing males who love them and are willing
to invest in their children) AND BECAUSE OF ITS ROLE IN NURTURANCE (females
who are high on affectional system are prone to nurturance).
Obituary: David Reimer, 38; After Botched Surgery, He Was Raised as a Girl in Gender Experiment
By Elaine Woo
L.A. Times Staff Writer
May 13, 2004
David Reimer, the Canadian man raised as a girl for most of the first 14 years of his life in a highly touted medical experiment that seemed to resolve the debate over the cultural and biological determinants of gender, has died at 38. He committed suicide May 4 in his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada.
At 8 months of age, Reimer became the unwitting subject of "sex reassignment," a treatment method embraced by his parents after his penis was all but obliterated during a botched circumcision. The American doctor whose advice they sought recommended that their son be castrated, given hormone treatments and raised as a girl. The physician, Dr. John Money, supervised the case for several years and eventually wrote a paper declaring the success of the gender conversion.
Known as the "John/Joan" case, it was widely publicized and gave credence to arguments presented in the 1970s by feminists and others that humans are sexually neutral at birth and that sex roles are largely the product of social conditioning.
But, in fact, the gender conversion was far from successful. Money's experiment was a disaster for Reimer that created psychological scars he ultimately could not overcome.
Reimer's story was told in the 2000 book "As Nature Made Him," by journalist John Colapinto. Reimer said he cooperated with Colapinto in the hope that other children could be spared the miseries he experienced.
Reimer was born on Aug. 22, 1965, 12 minutes before his identical twin brother. His working-class parents named him Bruce and his brother Brian. Both babies were healthy and developed normally until they were seven months old, when they were discovered to have a condition called phimosis, a defect in the foreskin of the penis that makes urination difficult.
The Reimers were told that the problem was easily remedied with circumcision. During the procedure at the hospital, a doctor who did not usually perform such operations was assigned to the Reimer babies. She chose to use an electric cautery machine with a sharp cutting needle to sever the foreskin.
But something went terribly awry. Exactly where the error lay -- in the machine, or in the user -- was never determined. What quickly became clear was that baby Bruce had been irreparably maimed.
(The doctors decided not to try the operation on his brother Brian, whose phimosis later disappeared without treatment.)
The Reimers were distraught. Told that phallic reconstruction was a crude option that would never result in a fully functioning organ, they were without hope until one Sunday evening after the twins' first birthday when they happened to tune in to an interview with Money on a television talk show. He was describing his successes at Johns Hopkins University in changing the sex of babies born with incomplete or ambiguous genitalia.
He said that through surgeries and hormone treatments he could turn a child into whichever sex seemed most appropriate, and that such reassignments were resulting in happy, healthy children.
Money, a Harvard-educated native of New Zealand, had already established a reputation as one of the world's leading sex researchers, known for his brilliance and his arrogance. He was credited with coining the term "gender identity" to describe a person's innate sense of maleness or femaleness.
The Reimers went to see Money, who with unwavering confidence told them that raising Bruce as a girl was the best course, and that they should never say a word to the child about ever having been a boy.
About six weeks before his second birthday, Bruce became Brenda on an operating table at Johns Hopkins. After bringing the toddler home, the Reimers began dressing her like a girl and giving her dolls.
She was, on the surface, an appealing little girl, with round cheeks, curly locks and large, brown eyes. But Brenda rebelled at her imposed identity from the start. She tried to rip off the first dress that her mother sewed for her. When she saw her father shaving, she wanted a razor, too. She favored toy guns and trucks over sewing machines and Barbies. When she fought with her brother, it was clear that she was the stronger of the two. "I recognized Brenda as my sister," Brian was quoted as saying in the Colapinto book. "But she never, ever acted the part."
Money continued to perform annual checkups on Brenda, and despite the signs that Brenda was rejecting her feminized self, Money insisted that continuing on the path to womanhood was the proper course for her.
In 1972, when Brenda was 7, Money touted his success with her gender conversion in a speech to the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., and in the book, "Man & Woman, Boy & Girl," released the same day. The scientists in attendance recognized the significance of the case as readily as Money had years earlier. Because Brenda had an identical male twin, they offered the perfect test of the theory that gender is learned, not inborn.
Money already was the darling of radical feminists such as Kate Millett, who in her bestselling "Sexual Politics" two years earlier had cited Money's writings from the 1950s as proof that "psychosexual personality is therefore postnatal and learned."
Now his "success" was written up in Time magazine, which, in reporting on his speech, wrote that Money's research provided "strong support for a major contention of women's liberationists: that conventional patterns of masculine and feminine behavior can be altered." In other words, nurture had trumped nature.
The Reimer case quickly was written into textbooks on pediatrics, psychiatry and sexuality as evidence that anatomy was not destiny, that sexual identity was far more malleable than anyone had thought possible. Money's claims provided powerful support for those seeking medical or social remedies for gender-based ills.
What went unreported until decades later, however, was that Money's experiment actually proved the opposite -- the immutability of one's inborn sense of gender.
Money stopped commenting publicly on the case in 1980 and never acknowledged that the experiment was anything but a glowing success. Dr. Milton Diamond, a sexologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, had long been suspicious of Money's claims. He was finally able to locate Reimer through a Canadian psychiatrist who had seen Reimer as a patient.
In an article published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 1997, Diamond and the psychiatrist, Dr. H. Keith Sigmundson, showed how Brenda had steadily rejected her reassignment from male to female. In early adolescence, she refused to continue receiving the estrogen treatments that had helped her grow breasts. She stopped seeing Money. Finally, at 14, she refused to continue living as a girl.
When she confronted her father, he broke down in tears and told her what had happened shortly after her birth. Instead of being angry, Brenda was relieved. "For the first time everything made sense," the article by Diamond and Sigmundson quoted her as saying, "and I understood who and what I was."
She decided to reclaim the identity she was born with by taking male hormone shots and undergoing a double mastectomy and operations to build a penis with skin grafts. She changed her name to David, identifying with the Biblical David who fought Goliath. "It reminded me," David told Colapinto, "of courage."
David developed into a muscular, handsome young man. But the grueling surgeries spun him into periods of depression and twice caused him to attempt suicide. He spent months living alone in a cabin in the woods. At 22, he prayed to God for the first time in his life, begging for the chance to be a husband and father.
When he was 25, he married a woman and adopted her three children. Diamond reported that while the phallic reconstruction was only partially successful, David could have sexual intercourse and experience orgasm. He worked in a slaughterhouse and said he was happily adjusted to life as a man.
In interviews for Colapinto's book, however, he acknowledged a deep well of wrenching anger that would never go away.
"You can never escape the past," he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2000. "I had parts of my body cut away and thrown in a wastepaper basket. I've had my mind ripped away."
His life began to unravel with the suicide of his brother two years ago. Brian Reimer had been treated for schizophrenia and took his life by overdosing on drugs. David visited his brother's grave every day. He lost his job, separated from his wife and was deeply in debt after a failed investment.
He is survived by his wife, Jane; his parents, and his children.
Despite the hardships he experienced, he said he did not blame his parents for their decision to raise him as a girl. As he told Colapinto, "Mom and Dad wanted this to work so I'd be happy. That's every parent's dream for their child. But I couldn't be happy for my parents. I had to be happy for me. You can't be something that you're not. You have to be you."