Gender socialization perspectives

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Gender socialization
perspectives
Biological essentialism
Psychoanalytic
Social Learning
Cognitive Development
Gender Schemas
Peer Group Interactions
Essentialism
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Biblical essentialism
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The belief that men and women are different because they were
created different by God.
Male dominance and gender inequality are universals because God
has ordained it to be so.
Biological essentialism
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Universal sex differences
Universal inequality and male dominance natural consequence
Men and women are biologically different:
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Anatomy
Hormones (testosterone, estrogen, etc.)
Physical (strength, size, weight)
Freud
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Conscious and Unconscious mind
Oedipus complex
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Rivalry with the father
Desire for the mother
Castration anxiety
Penis envy (Electra complex)
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Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930
Women have weaker egos because they can never resolve
Oedipus complex
Notice that capacity for masculine and feminine
found in both men and women
Modern applications
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Mother is the first person to whom children, both boys
and girls learn to relate.
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First identification for both boys and girls is feminine, not
masculine.
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Identity development easier for a girl because she can
identify early with her mother.
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Identity development more difficult for the boy because
he must reject his first identity as feminine. Because
fathers and other men are not a central part of a boys’
life, men struggle with understanding what masculinity
involves.
Implications
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Masculinity constituted by being “notfeminine”
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Femininity is devalued
Men deny attachment to the feminine world,
represses his feminine identification.
Boys strong preference for gender-segregated
play groups and avoidance of female-typed
activities related to these early experiences in
the family.
Social Learning Theory
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Behaviorism (stimulus-response theory)
Parent-child relations central
Sex-typed behavior develops as a result of reinforcement (NOT)
Modeling—children choose to model or copy behaviors of other males
or females (NOT)
Research shows
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Parents tend to treat boys and girls similarly with regards to:
achievement or dependency, warmth of interactions,
restrictiveness, and disciplinary practices.
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Parents reinforce gender differences in toys children play with.
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Parents who are highly sex-typed not more likely to have children
who a strongly sex-typed.
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Efforts to “reprogram” through reinforcement seems to only
change behavior temporarily.
Cognitive Development Theory
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Jean Piaget
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Children gradually develop more complex ways of
interacting with others and understanding the world
around them.
Initially children understand their world by sorting things
(objects, people) into categories
Children are active agents, employing cognitive
processes.
Developmental—children’s interpretations and
understandings of gender alter and change as their
cognitive capabilities become more developed.
Gender schemas
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Cognitive schemas used to organize information on
the basis of gender categories.
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In-group (own sex group) vs. Out-group (other sex)
Become more elaborate as gender identity is
developed.
New information and situations interpreted based on
gender schemas.
Gender schema complex and multidimensional
May explain why boys and girls choose to play with
others of the same sex as early as 3 years old.
Terman and Miles, 1925+
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Terman revised Binet’s intelligence test,
producing the Stanford-Binet I.Q. test.
Differences in intelligence between men and
women were trivial or nonexistent.
Differences between men and women best
identified by measuring femininity and
masculinity
Fear of the emasculation of men
Terman and Miles Research
Assumptions
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Masculinity and femininity are static, nondevelopmental personality traits that exist at
an early age.
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Masculinity and femininity represent opposite
ends of a one dimensional continuum.
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Psychological normality is demonstrated by
possession of sex appropriate characteristics.
Sandra Bem’s Sex Role Inventory
Femininity
High
Feminine
Masculinity
Androgynous
Low
High
Undifferentiated
Low
Masculine
Bem’s Sex Role Inventory
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Femininity
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Affectionate (43%)
Sympathetic (54%)
Sensitive to others’
needs (56%)
Understanding (38%)
Compassionate (50%)
Eager to soothe feelings
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Masculinity
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Self reliant (13%)
Defends own beliefs
(4%)
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(62%)
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Warm (45%)
Tender (56%)
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Independent (13%)
Athletic (27%)
Assertive (36%)
Strong personality (17%)
Forceful (66%)
Analytical (17%)
(% of college undergraduates who rated characteristic as feminine/masculine)
Bem’s assumptions
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masculinity and femininity were no longer understood as
personality structures embedded in the individual, but instead
were cultural stereotypes to which people must conform or
suffer grave social costs;
good mental health did not necessarily require appropriate
levels of masculine or feminine behavior consistent with
one’s sex category since androgyny (a high score on
masculine and feminine characteristics) was also an
indication of good mental health; and
one’s sex would no longer be a determinant of identity
development, but individuals could freely create her or his
own unique blending of temperament and behaviors (Bem
1993: 120-121).
Peer Group Interactions
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Culture of childhood
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Pattern of games, activities, roles, norms, and
even jokes and folklore that are passed on from
generation to generation.
Passed on from generation to generation of
children without active involvement of adults,
Highly gendered, with rigid distinctions between
boys and girls and sanctions for violating these
roles.
Distinctive styles of play (Maccoby)
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Boys
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Rough and tumble play
Competition
Avoiding domination
Establishing superiority
Direct commands
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Girls
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Cooperative play
Egalitarian, fair play
Forming relationships
Polite suggestion
• Girls find it difficult to influence boys.
• Group process involves mutual influence, but given different styles of
relating mutual influence is difficult.
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