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Carolyn Ensley

Chapter 13: Development of Sex Differences and Gender Roles Major current approaches in gender theories are social learning theory, with its emphasis on modeling and reinforcement and cognitive- developmental theory, with its focus on children as active thinkers about their social world. • Gender stereotypes are widely held beliefs about characteristics deemed appropriate for males and females • Gender roles are the reflection of these stereotypes in everyday behaviour • Gender identity is the private face of gender – perception of the self as relatively masculine or feminine in characteristics. • Gender typing refers broadly to any association of objects, activities, roles, or traits with biological sex in ways that conform to cultural stereotypes of gender • Instrumental traits – reflecting competence, rationality and assertiveness, were regarded as masculine • Expressive traits emphasizing warmth, caring and sensitivity were viewed as feminine • Gender stereotypes cast men in a generally positive light and women in a generally negative light • Only a few masculine attributes such as “aggressive” and “criminal” are negative. Feminine attributes, in contrast, are mostly unfavorable and low-status • During early childhood, gender-stereotyped beliefs strengthen – so much so that many children apply them as blanket rules rather than flexible guidelines • Most preschoolers do not yet realize that characteristics associated with being male or female do not determine a person’s sex • Research in many countries reveals that stereotyping of personality traits increases steadily in middle childhood, becoming adult like around age 11 • Girls often adopt a more general stereotype of males as smarter than females, which they apply to themselves • Gender stereotype flexibility - overlap in the characteristics of males and females • Gender stereotype flexibility rises as children develop the cognitive capacity to integrate conflicting social cues • Acknowledging that boys and girls can cross gender lines does not mean that children always approve of doing so • They are especially intolerant when boys engage in these cross gender acts • Boys hold more rigid gender stereotyped views than girls throughout childhood and adolescence • Higher SES individuals tend to hold more flexible gender- stereotyped views than their lower-SES counterparts • By the middle of the second year boys and girls favour different toys • Gender stereotypes affect behaviour only when children incorporate those beliefs into their gender identities • Experience can profoundly influence gender typing. Reversals of gender roles are rare • Experiments with animals reveal that prenatally administered androgens (male sex hormone) increase active play in both male and female mammals • Children interact with peers, they choose partners whose interests and behaviours are comparable with their own. By age 2, girls appear overwhelmed by boys rambunctious behaviour • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a disorder in which a genetic defect causes the adrenal system to produce unusually high levels of androgens from the prenatal period onward • Girls with CAH are usually born with masculinized external genitals. Most undergo surgical correction in infancy and continuous drug therapies • Girls with CAH tend to be higher in activity level; to like cars, trucks and blocks better than dolls; to prefer boys as playmates; and to be more interested in “masculine careers” • In androgen insensitivity syndrome, the testes produce normal levels of androgens, but androgen receptors in body cells are partially or completely impaired • Predominantly male to typically female urogenital tract and external genitals. Feminine gender-typed behaviour, including toy choices, play behaviours and preference for girl playmates • All children with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome were reared as girls. And children with partial androgen effects reared as girls displayed more feminine behaviour than those reared as boys – findings suggesting a role for child rearing • When adults are asked to observe neutrally dressed infants who are labeled as either boy or girls, they “see” qualities that fit with the baby’s artificially assigned sex • During childhood and adolescent, parents continue to hold different perceptions and expectations of their sons and daughters • Younger children receive more direct training in gender roles than older children • As early as the first few months of life- before children can express their own preferences – parents create different environments for boys and girls • Parents also actively reinforce independence in boys and closeness and dependency in girls • Observations of mothers and fathers interacting with their youngsters in teaching situations reveal that parents continue to demand greater independence from boys • When insisting that children meet their daily responsibilities, mothers of sons more often pair control with autonomy granting • Research shows that when fathers hold stereotypical views yet their sons engage in “feminine” housework, boys experience strain in the father-child relationship • In homes where fathers devote as much or more time to child care as mothers, children tend to be less gender-typed in the emotional expression • In childhood, fathers more than mothers encourage “gender- appropriate” behaviour • Parents also seem especially committed to ensuring the gender typing of children of their own sex • In classrooms, men and women teachers usually obedience and discourage assertiveness. This feminine “bias” is believed to promote discomfort for boys in school • Teachers also act in ways that maintain and even extend gender roles taught at home • At older ages, teachers praise boys for their knowledge, girls for their obedience • Reflections of gender in the media are also stereotyped • When children are exposed to nonstereotyped models, they are less traditional in their beliefs and behaviours. Children who often see their parents cross traditional gender lines less often endorse gender stereotypes • By age 3, same-sex peers positively reinforce one another for “gender-appropriate” play by praising, imitating, or joining in. In contrast, when preschoolers engage in “cross-gender” activities peers criticize them • Some educators believe that forming mixed-sex activity groups in classroom and recreational settings is a vital means of reducing gender stereotyping and broadening developmental possibilities for both sexes • Between forth and seventh grade, more young people- especially boys- say it is OK to exclude in the basis of gender than on ethnicity • Older siblings serve as powerful models for younger siblings • Children with same-sex siblings were more gender-typed than children with no siblings, who in turn were more gender-typed than children with other sex older siblings • Studies reporting a modeling and reinforcement effect (an increase in gender typing among same-sex siblings) focus on children from two-child families. In contrast, those reporting a differentiation effect often include children from larger families • In all girl and all boy families, children are more likely to be assigned “cross gender” chores • Gender identity, a person’s perception of the self as relatively masculine or feminine in characteristics • Androgyny – scoring high in both masculine and feminine personality characteristics • “Masculine” and androgynous children and adults have higher self-esteem than “feminine” individuals • According to social learning theory, behaviour comes before self- perceptions • Cognitive-development theory maintains that self-perceptions come before behaviour • Gender consistency – a full understanding of the biologically based permanence of their gender, which combines three understandings: gender labeling, gender stability, and gender consistency Develop Gender constancy by going through the following stages of development: 1. Gender labeling – during the early preschool years, children can label their own sex and that of others correctly 2. Gender stability – At this stage, children have a partial understanding of the permanence of sex, in that they grasp its stability over time. They continue to insist that changing hairstyle, clothing, or “gender-appropriate” activities will also change a person’s sex 3. Gender consistency – During the late preschool and early school years, children understand that sex is biologically based and remains the same even if a person dresses in “cross-gender” clothes or engages in nontraditional activ
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