Chapter 5: Gender Identity and Gender Roles
This chapter addresses the biological, psychological, and sociological aspects of gender.
Gender: The psychological sense of being female or being male and the roles society ascribes to gender.
Gender is a complex concept that is based partly on anatomy, partly on the psychology of the individual, and partly on culture
Anatomic sex: based on the physical differences between females and males.
Sexual differentiation: the process by which males and females develop distinct reproductive anatomy.
PRENATAL SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION
Aristotle believed that the anatomical differences between men and women were due to the heart of semen at the time of sexual
Hot semen- generated males, whereas cold semen- generated women
Chromosome: One of the rodlike structures found in the nucleus of every living cell that carry the genetic code in the form of genes.
When an egg fertilizes an ovum, 23 chromosomes from the male parent normally combine with 23 chromosomes from the
female parent. Then, they form 23 pairs.
Zygote: A fertilized ovum (egg cell)
Embryo: the stage of prenatal development that begins with implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus and concludes with
development of the major organ systems at about two months after conception.
At about the seventh week after conception, the genetic code (XX or XY) begins to assert itself, causing changes in gonads,
genital ducts, and external genitals.
The basic blueprint of the human embryo is female.
THE ROLE OF SEX HORMONES IN SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION
Androgens: male sex hormones. The most important androgen is testosterone.
Each Wolffian duct develops into an epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicle.
The external genitals, including the penis, begin to take shape at about the eighth week of development under the influence of
another androgen, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
Each embryo possesses primitive external genitals, a pair of sexually undifferentiated gonads, and two sets of primitive duct
structures, the Mullerian (female) ducts and the Wolffian (male) ducts.
The mullerian ducts evolve into fallopian tubes, the uterus, and the upper two-thirds of the vagina.
Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS): another testicular hormone, one secreted during the fetal stage, prevents the Mullerian ducts from
developing into the female duct system.
Female sex hormones are NOT involved in fetal sexual differentiation.
DESCENT OF THE TESTES AND THE OVARIES:
The testes and ovaries develop from slender structures high in the abdominal cavity.
- After about four months after conception, the testes normally descend into the scrotal sac through the inguinal canal- A fetal canal that
connects the scrotum and the testes, allowing the latter to descend.
Cryptorchidism: the condition defined by undescended testes. In most cases, the testes migrate to the scrotum during infancy. In still
other cases, the testes descend by puberty.
Men with this condition are treated through surgery or hormonal therapy, because they are at higher risk for cancer of the testes.
Sperm production is also impaired
Klinefelter syndrome: a condition that affects 1 in 500 males. Condition caused by an extra X sex chromosome. Men fail to develop
appropriate sex characteristics so they have enlarged breasts and poor muscular development. They are also infertile.
Turner syndrome: occurs in about 1 in 2500 females and is a consequence of having one X as opposed to XX. Women may not undergo
puberty, so hormone treatments are usually begun when pubertal changes would start to spur the growth of secondary sex characteristics.
Undergoes prenatal sexual differentiation
- Testosterone causes cells in the hypothalamus of male fetuses to become insensitive to the female sex hormone estrogen.
- In the absence of testosterone, as in female fetuses, the hypothalamus does develop sensitivity to estrogen. This sensitivity is important
in the regulation of the menstrual cycle of women after puberty.
-Our psychological awareness or sense of being male or female and one of the most obvious and important aspects of our self-concepts.
Sex assignment: (Also called gender assignment) reflects the childs anatomic sex and usually occurs at birth.
At 18 months: children become aware of their anatomic sex
By 36months: acquire a firm sense of gender identity.NATURE AND NURTURE IN GENDER IDENTITY
-gender identity is nearly always consistent with chromosomal gender, but this does not prove that gender identity is biologically
Intersexuals: (also termed pseudohermaphrodite) possess the gonads of one gender but the external genitalia that are ambiguous or
typical of the other gender.
They are sometimes reared as members of the gender other than their chromosomal gender.
Hermaphrodite: people who possess both ovarian and testicular tissue. True hermaphrodites may have one gonad of each gender (a
testicle and an ovary) or gonads that combine testicular and ovarian tissue.
Hermaphrodites usually assume the gender assigned at birth
True hermaphrodites are extremely rare.
Intersexualism: more common, one infant in 1000. Intersexuals have testes or ovaries, but not both. Unlike hermaphrodites, their gonads
match their chromosomal gender. However, sometimes their external genitalia or their internal reproductive anatomy are ambiguous or
resemble those of the other gender.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH): most common form of female intersexualism. Genetic females (XX) have female internal
sexual structures (ovaries) but masculanized external genitals. The clitoris is so enlarged that it may resemble a small penis. Condition
occurs because there are excessive levels of androgens.
Androgen-insensitivity syndrome: genetic males (XY) have lower-than-normal prenatal sensitivity to androgens. Consequently, their
genitals do not become normally masculinized. The male duct system fails to develop. Nevertheless, the fetal testes produce Mullerian
inhibiting syndrome substance, preventing the developing of a uterus or fallopian tubes.
Androgen-insensitivity syndrome prevents males from growing pubic or underarm hair.
Dominican Republic syndrome: Started with Dominican boys. Prevents testosterone from masculinizing the external genitalia. The boys
are born with normal testes and internal male reproductive organs, but their external genitals were malformed.
Their penises were stunted and resembled clitorises and their scrotums resembled female labia.
They had partially formed vaginas.
The boys were reared as females until puberty, when their testes swung into normal testosterone production, causing startling
Of the 18 boys who were reared as girls, 17 shifted to a male gender identity.
Many scientists conclude that gender identity is influenc