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
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.