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Midterm Study Guide

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Ann Mullen
Study Guide

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SOCC38 Gender and Education Midterm Study Guide
Conceptual Definitions:
1. Interplanetary theory of gender
The interplanetary theory of gender assumes, whether through biology or socialization, that women act like women, no matter
where they are, and that men act like men no matter where they are
Although we think women and men are different and are from different planets, the observed mean differences
between women and men are decisive and that they come from the fact that women and men are biologically so
physically different
It suggests that women and men are not from Venus and Mars, but are both from planet Earth. We're not opposite sexes, but
neighboring sexes—we have far more in common with each other than we have differences
The interplanetary theory of gender difference assumes that gender is a property of individuals, that is, that gender is a
component of one's identity
The interplanetary theory of gender different is important because the real sociological question of gender is the
sociology of knowledge question that explores gender differences
E.g. although men and women are different in the way we dress, behave, etc., we are alike in many ways (eat, attend school,
work, etc.)
2. Biological theories of gender differences
Ordained by nature
Biology constructs the sexes
The differences in anatomy are decisive, and provide the basis for the differences in men's and women's experiences
The differences between the males and females of our species will ultimately be found in the cell arrangements and anatomy of
the human brain
To biologists, the source of human behavior lies in our cells
Biological explanations hold a place of prominence in our explanations of both gender difference and gender inequality
Biological explanations are based on objective scientific facts, which are extraordinarily persuasive
E.g. people are born to either male or female, and biology determines how men and women behave differently – men are
biologically more aggressive than women due to higher testosterone levels that drive masculinity in men
3. Socialization theories of gender differences
Explains both gender difference and gender domination
Men and women are different because we are taught to be different. From the moment of birth, males and females are treated
differently. Gradually we acquire the traits, behaviors, and attitudes that our culture defines as "masculine" or "feminine." We
are not necessarily born different: We become different through this process of socialization.
Domination is the outcome of the different cultural valuing of men's and women's experiences
The process of socialization is a process of making males and females different from each other
E.g. In schools, women enrol in courses like parenting, knitting, and cooking, whereas men enrol in engineering, math, and
science courses
4. Gender essentialism
Dont fool with Mother Nature!
Nature is inevitable
Unequal social arrangements are, in the end, ordained by nature
Men and women are essentially born like that – on the nature side of the debate
Gender differences are inherente.g. women have a natural tendency to be nurturing while men have a natural tendency to be
dominant and aggressive
Men are like that, and women are like that
Significance = it is how we understand gender?
5. Cultural construction of gender
The origins of gender rituals lie in nonbiological placesculture determines gender
Definitions of masculinity/femininity varies across cultures

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Significance = gender rituals are highly associated with gender difference and gender inequality
E.g. in some cultures, young males undergo circumcision to be incorporated into the society, which serves as a rite of passage
to adult masculinity
E.g. clitoridectomy and infibulations are done on girls in some cultures to prevent sexual intercourse, pleasure, and
6. Social construction of gender relations
We need to interact, to be socialized, to be part of society
It is that interaction that makes us who we are
Gender is socially constructed – society made me like this
Gender identity is socially constructed = our identities are a fluid assemblage of the meanings and behaviors that we
construct from the values, images, and prescriptions we find in the world around us. Our gendered identities are both
voluntary—we choose to become who we are—and coerced—we are pressured, forced, sanctioned, and often physically
beaten into submission to some rules.
Significanceexplores gender through difference, power, and institutional dimensions of gender
People respond to the world through encountering with people and social institutions
Something we learn through childhood, not a biological factor
E.g. as a child, wearing either pink or blue shapes your behaviour in the future
7. Gender as situational
What it means to be a man or a woman varies in different contexts
Those different institutional contexts demand and produce different forms of masculinity and femininity.
E.g. boys express their identity differently in fraternity parties than in job interviews with a female manager.
Gender is a specific set of behaviors that are produced in specific social situations. And thus gender changes as the situation
E.g. In class with different gender dynamics, men and women wear similar clothing…but at a night club, gender differences
will be obvious (men and women will be dressed much more differently)
8. Gender as relational
We understand what it means to be a man or a woman in relation to the dominant models as well as to one another
Boys get herded into the masculine corral, girls the feminine, but the two corrals have virtually nothing to do with one another.
Significance = a view of the differences between the sexes and their situations, not a concrete one of the relations between
Men construct their ideas of what it means to be men in constant reference to definitions of femininity. What it means to be a
man is to be unlike a woman
9. Gender as plural
Different definitions of masculinity and femininity constructed and expressed by different groups of men and women. Thus,
we speak of masculinities and femininities.
Significance = it broadens the definition of gender
There are vast cultural differences in what masculinity means, and what it means to be a man or a woman differs
E.g. for example, black men, lesbians, or older Latinas experience discrimination because their definitions of masculinity and
femininity are "different" from the norm
10. Gendered institutions
Gendered institutions are institutions of our livesfamilies, workplaces, and schools
They are organized to reproduce the differences and inequalities between women and men
Institutions create gendered normative standards, express a gendered institutional logic, and are major factors in the
reproduction of gender inequality. The gendered identity of individuals shapes those gendered institutions, and the gendered
institutions express and reproduce the inequalities that compose gender identity.
Gendered individuals occupy places within gendered institutions
Significance = produces gender difference and reproduces gender inequality
Gendered institutions shape our lives
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