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PSYC 3480 (233)
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Chapter 1

PSYC of Women Chapter 1

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PSYC 3480

Chapter 1: Introduction Womens lives are improving, but are treated in a biased fashion (subtle, but can be life threatening) Popular media and academic community neglect women and issues important to them Introductory Psychology does not mention pregnancy important part of womens lives Women have several unique experiences not relative to men menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause Also experiences more likely to occur to women rape, domestic violence, harassment Female different point of view in regards to achievement, sexuality, and retirement Central Concepts in Psychology of Women Sex and Gender Related terms and crucial to psychology of women - provoked considerable controversy Sex: narrow term refers only to inborn biological characteristics relation to reproduction, such as sex chromosomes or organs Gender: broader term, refers to psychological characteristics and social categories that human culture creates Gender messages tell us that a boy needs to play football, and girl not Text focuses on the psychology not the biology refer to gender more than sex (roles, comparison, stereotypes) Many articles/books fail to maintain distinction between the two Doing gender: express gender when you interact with other people; you also perceive gender in these other people Provide messages of your gender using your tone of voice, appearance, and conversation style Emphasizes that gender is active, dynamic process rather than something that is stable and rigid Impossible to stop doing gender because its part of identity The Extent of Social Biases Sexism (genderism): bias against people on the basis of their gender Women cant be a competent lawyer, men a nursery school teacher Reveals itself in social behavior, media representations, and job discriminations Both subtle and blatant Biases exist when one social category is considered normative or standard, while others are considered deficient; other forms include Racism: bias against people on the basis of racial or ethnic groups White preschoolers choose white friends even if black is available Sexism + racism combine in complex ways Women of color experience events differently than Euro American men Classism: bias based on social class (defined by factors of income, occupation, and education). Provides special privileges to some people based on their social category Psychologists pay little attention to tis impact leaves it to sociologists But social class affects physical and psychological well0being Ableism: bias against people with disabilities (often ignored as well) Heterosexism (sexual prejudice): bias against anyone who is not exclusively heterosexual; harms lesbians, gay males, and bisexuals. Appears in behaviors of individuals, policies of institutions, and legal system Encourages male-female romantic relationships are normative Ageism: bias based on chronological age; directed towards elderly people. Feminist Approaches Feminism: principle that values womens experiences and ideas; feminism also emphasizes that women and men should be socially, economically, and legally equal. 1. Definition does not exclude men: men can be feminists too 2. Many people qualify as feminists, but are reluctant to call themselves one i. Im not a feminist, but I think men and women should be treated the same ii. Feminism is a high regard for women, not men antagonism 3. Encompasses a variety of ideas, perspectives not just 1 view point i. Liberal feminism: emphasizes the goal of gender equality, giving women and men same rights/ opportunities by passing laws. Biological factors should have small differences on opportunities. ii. Cultural feminism: positive qualities that are presumed to be stronger in women than men nurturing/caretaking. Focuses on valuing women, rather gender similarities (liberal). Argues society needs to cooperate not be aggressive. iii. Radical feminism: basic cause of womens oppression is in the entire sex/gender system and not in superficial laws/ policies. Sexism starts from personal level in male-female relationship to the international levels. Must dramatically change its policies on sexuality/violence on women. iv. Women-of-color feminism: the other 3 types of feminism overemphasize gender, focuses on other human dimensions such as ethnicity and social class. Cant achieve a feminist society but making minor adjustments, must understand the perspectives rather than adding difference and stirring. Central point: feminism isnt simply 1 unified point of view variety of perspectives for achieving better lives for women. Psychological Approaches to Gender Similarity and Difference When studying gender issues you either favor similarity or difference The Similarities Perspective Similarities Perspective: men and women are generally similar in their intellectual and social skills. Social forces create temporary differences. Women only submissive because men hold power at work Favours liberal feminism: deemphasizing gender roles and strengthening equal rights law = increase gender similarities But why do they seem different? Social constructionism: individuals and cultures construct or invent their own versions of reality, based on prior experiences, social interactions, and beliefs. Women develops female identify from learning about gender through her culture doing gender We can never objectively discover reality because our beliefs influence our observations North American culture consider women different from men Tendency to perceive, remember and think about a gender that exaggerates differences The Differences Perspective Differences perspective: men and women are generally different in their intellectual and social skills; emphasize womens positive characteristics that have been undervalued (because they are associated with woman). Women are concerned about human relationships and care giving Critic: emphasizing gender differences strengthen peoples stereotypes about gender Essentialism explains gender differences Essentialism: argues gender is a basic, unchangeable characteristic that resides within an individual. All women share the same psychological characteristics which are different from what all men share. Characteristics are universal not consistent with cross-cultural research Characteristics are because of internal nature, and not because society assigns women the characteristic A Brief History of the Psychology of Women Psychologys early view about women were negative Hall opposed college education for young women since it would be at the expense of reproductive power Encouraged bias research about gender Early Studies of Gender Comparisons Early studies of gender focused on gender comparisons influenced by sexist biases Earlier research believed that the highest mental capacities were located in the frontal lobes of the brain =claimed men hard larger frontal lobes > women Research revised to match new brain theories 1900: 2 female psychologists 2 different conclusions Helen Thompson Woolley: men and women have similar intellectual abilities, women scored higher on memory/thinking tasks Leta Stetter Hollingworth: womens menstrual cycles had little effect on intellectual abilities Research argued women should have equal access to college education The Emergence of the Psychology of Women as a Discipline 1930: women is 1/3 of members of APA but women seldom hired for faculty position Women could not conduct psychological research about Psychology of women did not move forward during the first half of 20 century 1970: women in psychology increased, feminism and womens movement recognized on campuses Colleges added courses in womens studies 1969: Association for Women in Psychology 1973: Society for Psychology of women largest division within APA 1972: Canadian psychologists proposed symposium On Women, By Women in a nearby hotel Psychology of women is standard course on college campus (US and Canada) 1970s: field expanded dramatically explored topics such as womens achievement for motivation, domestic violence, sex harassment, and other topics But work done on 1970 had 2 issues: 1. Did not realize the issue of gender was extremely complicated (requires numerous factors) 2. Framework blamed women for their own low status; researchers had 2 answers i. Women not assertive enough ii. They were afraid of success Researchers ignored that situation might be faulty Popular media/ researchers traced fault to womens personalities rather than stereotypes and biased policies Now the focus is shifted from differences in gender to gender discrimination and sexism The Current Status of the Psychology of Women Todays questions generate complex answers 4 journals are likely to publish relevant articles: 1)Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2) Sex Roles, 3) Feminist & Psychology, and 4) Canadian Woman Studies Psychologists are increasingly aware of fa
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