Gender Differences Essay Research Paper What are

Gender Differences Essay, Research Paper

What are the differences between boys and girls? How different are they, and

what causes thses differences? How is gender identity developed and how does

it affect children?s behavior and attitudes? Gender identity is the awareness of

one?s gender and all it implies (Human Development *text*, 286). Gender

differences are explained as psychological or behavioral differences between

both genders. There are many theories to how and why gender differences exist.

Some people argue that circumcision at birth is a factor, others say the

differences are greatly influenced by the human brain. Recent studies show that

there are great specific differences found in both the male and female brain.

Next, on one side people claim that evolution and biology is what makes us

different, and the other side, people plea that there is a lot more variation to the

gender roles. They say that society influences our reaction to the biological

course. Finally, today some sex differences are considered to be of social origin.

Whatever the case may be, many experiments have been conducted, and

although some differences are more obvious than others, boys and girls are more

alike, than different.

It has been presented, with evidence, that circumcision of male infants

causes behavioral changes. Gender differences instead, may be the outcome of

the alter behavior of circumcised males. There are two studies which goals were

to examine the consequences and behavior of circumcision. In 1971 it was

concluded that circumcision was followed by non-rapid eye movement sleep

(NREM). The amount of NREM increased and the number of NREM sleep

periods increased. In 1974, after circumcision it was found prolonged

wakefullness with crying during hours immediately after the procedure. From

the results of these studies it can be concluded that circumcision does have

effects on infant behavior. However, the clarification must be awaited. Another

side to this issue is the thought that the difference in men and women?s brain?s

causes the actual differences between men and women. During an annual

meeting in Toronto in 1999, it was stated that men have more neurons in the

cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain , and women have more neuropil,

and that has the processes allowing cell communication. Males have more

tightly packed and more numerous nerve cells than females. This research may

show why women are more prone to dementing illness than are men. Although

these variations cause differences in how the brain works, neither type is said to

be better than the other.

Because there are similar gender roles in various cultures it?s suggested

that gender differences may be biologically based. By the time a child reaches

the age of 5, boys? brains are close to 10 percent bigger than girls? brains. Boys

have more gray matter in the cerebral cortex; this difference may be why girls

have greater neuronal density in the cerebral cortex. Evidence shows that size

differences in the corpus callosum are related to verbal fluency. Since girls have

greater corpus callosum than boys, that my help explain why girls have better

verbal skills. Another approach to this issue is the psychoanalytic approach.

Freud and others considered identification an important personality

development of early childhood. Freud believes that identification will happen

when young children repress their wishes to posses their parent of the opposite

sex and identifies with their parent of the same sex. Evidence from research

shows that gender identification is a result of gender typing. Gender typing is

the socialization process where children learn their appropriate gender roles.

Next, the cognitive approach. This is where the child comes to understand his

or her gender by thinking about their experience. This was presented by

Lawrence Kohlberg?s cognitive-developmental theory. Here, Kohlberg states

that children do their own gender typing. Their behavior is then organized by

their classification.

Finally, the socialization approach. This is where children learn their gender

roles by socialization with their peers, hence the name socialization approach.

Here, gender development is the result of interacting influences, personal and

social. This process starts at infancy even before a conscious understanding of

gender is formed. As children regulate their activities, standards of

gender-related behavior become internalized (Human Development *text*, 292).

This approach is also where parent and media influence fits. For example,

parents express their discomfort when their children do things according to the

opposite of their sex. Such as when boys play with their moms shoes, or when

girls play with trucks. This is shown more by the fathers about their sons,

probably because girls have more freedom than boys with the clothes they wear,

games they play and their friends. Also, for the most part life potrayed on TV is

more stereo typed than life in the real world. It is expected that children who

watch more TV will grow up acting similar to what they?ve witnessed all their

life on screen.

The most prominent difference between the sexes is that of aggression.

Most boys, from the early stages of childhood, act more aggressively than girls

both physically and verbally. Girls tend to be more empathetic, compliant and

cooperative with their elders and seek adult approval more than boys do. This

was also shown in a television broadcast in 1995, ?Boys and Girls are Different?.

A man put a barrier up between the children and their mothers. They could see

their mothers, but couldn?t reach her. Most boys attempted to knock the barrier

down, whereas most girls just stood there and cried. This finding may also be

that boys and girls have different ways of adjusting to their environments. This

difference may explain why men have gained political power and thought up

creative inventions and women have not.

Many experiments have been done with children to see exactly what are

gender differences. One was performed at the University of Rochester, and

concluded, due to brain differences, men and women navigate differently.

Students were blindfolded and had to walk through a maze of tunnels

underneath the campus. Men maintained their sense of direction, women,

however, did not. Another study, done in Canada, male and female students

were asked to wait in a room alone for a study. Part of the actual study was the

students waiting in the room. When they were called to be interviewed, they

were asked what they could remember seeing in the room they waited in.

Atypical female response was very accurate, and detailed, as opposed to the

typical male response which was slim to none. In California a study with rats

was performed, where female rats were injected with the male hormone

testosterone. Afterwards, the female rats reacted more like men.

Is one sex smarter than the other? Intelligence test scores show no proof

that one sex is infact smarter than the other. However, females tend to do better

on verbal tasks, mathematical computation, and at tasks requiring fine motor

and perceptual skills; and men perform better in spatial abilities and in abstract

mathematical and scientific reasoning. Although these differences occur early in

life, by knowing a child?s sex it cannot be determined whether he or she will be

faster, stronger, smarter, more obedient, or more assertive than another.

The issue of gender differences has been around for many years. Nothing

has really changed except for new theories that come into play. Today it?s more

normal to see women in the working world with men, doing similar jobs, and

men staying at home with their children. However, this idea still isn?t 100%

normal. Men are still praised more than women, and although women are in the

news, they?re not always noted for their accomplishments.

As a child growing up, I can remember always wanting to be with my

father, but always wanting to be like my mother. There are many universal

differences between men and women, like that of passive and aggressive, and the

brain differences. Also those of estrogen and testosterone, which I think has a lot

to do with the sexes? differences. But, there isn?t anything that can be done to

change those differences. It?s the contrasts that are potrayed in the media and

everyday life that need some work. All people are (supposedly) created equal.

It?s about time to realize that statement and act on it. Women and men should be

treated differently, according to their gender, for example in a case of sexual

harassment, but shown the same respect whatever the case may be.


Papalia, Diane E. , Olds, Sally Wendkos, Feldman, Ruth Duskin. (2001). Human

Development. pp 286-294.


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