Chapter Outline

  1. Gender stereotypes
    1. In the text, the word gender refers to the state of being male or female. Gender stereotypes are widely shared beliefs about males' and females' abilities, personality traits, and social behavior
      1. Great deal of consensus on supposed behavioral differences between genders
      2. Stereotypes in U.S. have remained fairly stable since early 1970s
    2. Points to keep in mind
      1. Although there is general agreement on a number of stereotypes, there are also variations
      2. Male stereotype is more complimentary than female stereotype
        1. Related to androcentrism (the belief that the male is the norm)
        2. Although there are negative aspects of male gender-role stereotypes
      3. Since 1980s, boundaries between stereotypes have become less rigid
  2. Gender similarities and differences
    1. Meta-analysis (a statistical technique that evaluates the results of many studies on the same question) has been used to synthesize research on gender comparisons
      1. Can be used to tell how large a difference exists
      2. Can tell which group scores higher
    2. Cognitive abilities
      1. No differences in overall intelligence
      2. Comparisons of verbal ability
        1. Until 1980s, consensus was that females scored higher
        2. In 1980s, research suggested virtually no differences
        3. Recent findings suggest some important differences
          1. Girls usually start speaking earlier
          2. Girls have larger vocabularies, better reading scores in grade school
          3. Boys do better on verbal analogies
          4. Boys more likely to be stutterers
        4. Overall, differences are small; most favor girls
      3. Mathematical ability
        1. Differences are small
        2. Boys outperform girls on mathematical problem-solving when they reach high school
        3. More boys than girls are precocious in mathematics
      4. Spatial ability
        1. Males clearly outperform females in mental rotation
        2. Experience, training can improve spatial ability
    3. Personality traits and social behavior
      1. Self-esteem
        1. On average, males tend to be more self-confident. Boys score higher on tests of self-esteem than girls do.
        2. Finding holds for both African American and white girls, women
      2. Aggression: behavior that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally
        1. Males tend to be more aggressive
          1. But size of difference is moderate
          2. Difference may depend on type of aggression
        2. Boys tend to engage in more physical aggression, girls in more verbal aggression
      3. Sexual attitudes and behavior
        1. Meta-analysis found men have more permissive attitudes about casual sex
        2. Males tend to be more sexually active
      4. Conformity: yielding to real or imagined social pressure
        1. Traditionally, females viewed as more likely to conform
        2. Females don't conform more to peer standards, unless there is group pressure to do so
        3. African American females seem to be less easily influenced, more assertive than African American males, white females
      5. Emotional expression
        1. Research does not support the conventional wisdom. While women are more expressive of their emotions than men are, both sexes report equal levels of experienced emotions.
      6. Communication
        1. Men talk more than women, contrary to stereotype
          1. Men interrupt women more than women interrupt men
          2. Differences may reflect status, power differences
        2. Women tend to be more tentative in their use of language
          1. More likely to use hedges, disclaimers, tag questions
          2. Difference attributed to greater insecurity, greater interpersonal sensitivity
        3. Women appear to be more sensitive to nonverbal cues
    4. Psychological disorders
      1. Overall incidence of mental disorder is similar
      2. Some differences in specific disorders
        1. Antisocial behavior, alcoholism, drug-related disorders more prevalent among men
        2. Women more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders
        3. Women attempt suicide more often, but men complete suicides at higher rate
      3. Association between disorders and traditional gender roles
    5. Putting gender differences in perspective
      1. Gender differences refer to groups, not individuals
        1. There is large overlap between groups
        2. Gender accounts for minute proportion of variation among individuals
      2. Differences do not mean one gender is better than the other
      3. Overall, similarities between genders far outweigh differences
      4. Gender differences may seem larger than they actually are
        1. Social role theory: asserts that minor gender differences are exaggerated by the different social roles that males and females occupy
        2. Social constructionism: asserts that individuals construct their own reality based on societal expectations, conditioning, and self-socialization
  3. Biological origins of gender differences
    1. Evolutionary explanations
      1. Suggest gender differences reflect different natural selection pressures
      2. For support, evolutionary psychologists look for gender differences that are consistent across cultures
        1. Differences in cognitive abilities, aggression, sexual behavior are found in many cultures
        2. Differences generally explained in terms of reproductive fitness
      3. Evolutionary analyses are interesting, but controversial
        1. Tend to be highly speculative
        2. Difficult to test empirically
    2. Brain organization
      1. Some theorists suggest that there are gender differences in hemispheric specialization
        1. The cerebral hemispheres are the right and left halves of the cerebrum, which is the convoluted outer layer of the brain
        2. Some evidence that males exhibit more cerebral specialization than females
        3. Some studies suggest that females tend to have larger corpus callosum
      2. Some theorists argue that differences in brain organization are responsible for gender differences in verbal, spatial ability
        1. But findings are inconsistent
        2. Peculiar that strong lateralization would produce advantage for males on one kind of task (spatial) and disadvantage on another (verbal)
        3. Differences in early life experiences may produce slight differences in brain organization
        4. Male and female brains are much more similar than different
    3. Hormonal influences
      1. Hormones: chemical substances released into the bloodstream by the endocrine glands
      2. Prenatal gender differentiation
        1. High level of androgens (male hormones) in males, low level in females leads to differentiation in genital organs
        2. Androgynized females are born with masculine genitals and also display some masculine behavioral tendencies
          1. Findings suggest that prenatal hormones shape gender differences
          2. But problems with research mean findings are not conclusive
      3. Sexual and aggressive behavior
        1. Testosterone is linked to sexual desire, higher levels of aggressive behavior
        2. Summary of biological evidence
          1. Hormones probably do play role in some aspects of behavior
          2. Overall, evidence suggests biological factors play relatively minor role in gender differences
  4. Environmental origins of gender differences
    1. Socialization: the acquisition of the norms and roles expected of people in a particular society
      1. Includes all efforts by society to ensure that its members behave appropriately
      2. An important aspect is teaching children about gender roles (cultural expectations about what is appropriate behavior for each gender)
    2. Processes in gender-role socialization
      1. Reinforcement and punishment
        1. Children learn roles by being rewarded for "gender-appropriate" behavior, punished for "gender-inappropriate" behavior
        2. Fathers are especially likely to punish gender-inappropriate behavior in sons
      2. Observational learning
        1. Parents, others serve as models for children
        2. Children more likely to imitate people who are nurturing, powerful, and similar to them
      3. Self-socialization
        1. Children play active role in gender-role socialization
        2. Children work to discover rules that govern their behavior
    3. Sources of gender-role socialization
      1. Parents
        1. Parents tend to encourage gender-appropriate play
        2. Assign household chores in line with gender stereotypes
      2. Peers
        1. Between ages of 4 and 6, children tend to form same-gender playgroups
        2. Play among groups takes different forms for boys and girls
          1. Boys play in larger groups; roam farther from home
          2. Status in boys' groups is linked to dominant behavior; girls generally express wishes as suggestions
        3. Peers play more important role for boys than for girls
          1. Adult males generally not around as much as adult females
          2. Boys spend much of their time in presence of adult females (i.e., mothers, teachers)
      3. Schools
        1. Books used in school can influence socialization
        2. Gender bias in teachers' behaviors has been found
          1. Frequently reward gender-appropriate behavior
          2. Tend to pay more attention to males
        3. Gender bias shows up in academic and career counseling
      4. The media
        1. Television a major influence
          1. Male characters outnumber females 2 to 1
          2. Programs tend to emphasize gender stereotypes
          3. Commercials even more gender-stereotyped than programs
        2. Most video games emphasize gender stereotypes
        3. Seems to be link between number and type of television programs watched and acquisition of gender-stereotyped beliefs
        4. Television places inordinate emphasis on physical attractiveness in women
  5. Traditional gender roles
    1. Role expectations for males
      1. Role contains five key elements
        1. Achievement
        2. Aggression
        3. Autonomy
        4. Sexuality
        5. Stoicism
      2. Expectations have remained stable, but may be undergoing changes
        1. Masculinity validated by achievement, power rather than physical strength, aggression
        2. Modern males may experience role inconsistencies as result of conflict between traditional role and modern expectations
    2. Problems with the male role
      1. Pressure to succeed
        1. Males encouraged to be highly competitive
        2. Many men are unable to realize their dreams, may view themselves as "failures"
        3. Men may want to "keep women in their place" because self-esteem is threatened when women earn more
        4. Men's emphasis on success takes away from family time
      2. The emotional realm
        1. Men learn to direct negative feelings toward others
          1. Increase tendency for men to behave aggressively
          2. Most violent crimes committed by men
        2. Men learn to hide such emotions as love, joy, and sadness
          1. May become unable even to identify such emotions (i.e., alexithymia)
          2. May cause problems in relationships with partners, children
          3. May contribute to stress-related disorders
      3. Sexual problems
        1. Problems can derive from gender-role socialization
          1. Obsession with sexual performance may produce anxiety that interferes with sexual responsiveness
          2. Men learn to confuse feelings of intimacy with sex
        2. Homophobia: the intense fear and intolerance of homosexuality
          1. More prevalent among males
          2. Related to fear of appearing feminine
    3. Role expectations for females
      1. Consists of two major expectations
        1. The marriage mandate
        2. The motherhood mandate
      2. These mandates fuel women's focus on heterosexual success (learning how to attract males as prospective mates)
    4. Problems with the female role
      1. Diminished career aspirations
        1. Women tend to have lower aspirations than men of similar background
        2. Ability-achievement gap: refers to discrepancy between abilities and aspirations in women
      2. Juggling multiple roles
        1. Women often responsible for roles of spouse, parent, and employee
        2. Problem stems from unequal sharing of role responsibilities
        3. Some women may experience psychological conflicts fueled by husband's negative attitudes about wife working outside of home
      3. Ambivalence about sexuality
        1. Girls taught to suppress, deny sexual feelings
        2. Told that woman's role in sex is passive one
        3. Girls learn to focus on romance, not sex
        4. Females have concerns about pregnancy, sexual exploitation, and rape
    5. Sexism: a special problem for females
      1. Sexism: discrimination against people on the basis of their gender
      2. Economic discrimination
        1. Women don't have same access to jobs
        2. Women tend to be treated differently at work in terms of salary, sexual harassment
      3. Aggression toward females includes rape, intimate violence, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, incest, and violent pornography
  6. Gender in the past and in the future
    1. Why are gender roles changing?
      1. Gender roles have always been based on division of labor
      2. Traditional gender roles no longer make economic sense
      3. Future is likely to bring more dramatic shifts in roles
    2. Alternatives to traditional gender roles
      1. Gender-role identity: a person's identification with the traits regarded as masculine or feminine
        1. Originally conceived as either "masculine" or "feminine"
        2. In 1970s, psychologists began to rethink ideas about gender-role identity
          1. One assumption questioned is that males should be "masculine" and females should be "feminine"
          2. Heterosexual couples with traditional identities seem to have less satisfying relationships than less sex-typed couples
      2. Androgyny: the coexistence of both masculine and feminine personality traits in an individual
        1. Androgynous people tend to be more flexible in their behaviors
        2. Research findings do not support association between androgyny and psychological health
      3. Gender-role transcendence (means that to be fully human, people need to move beyond gender roles as a way of organizing the world and of perceiving themselves and others)
        1. Based on assertion that masculinity, femininity are arbitrary labels
        2. Advocates argue that this practice would lead to gender-free society, in which each individual would be evaluated on his/her own merits
        3. Some social critics concerned about the decline of traditional gender roles
  7. Application: Bridging the gender gap in communication
    1. The clash of two "cultures"
      1. Deborah Tannen suggests that males and females are socialized in different "cultures"
      2. Gender differences in communication are consistent with traditional gender stereotypes
        1. Boys tend to engage in activities that encourage exploration, independence, and dominance behavior
        2. Girls tend to play in smaller groups that emphasize intimacy in social interaction
      3. Styles learned as children tend to carry over into adult social situations
        1. Men tend to view the world as hierarchical
        2. Women tend to view the social order as a community
    2. Instrumental and expressive styles of communication
      1. Men are more likely to use instrumental style, which focuses on reaching practical goals and finding solutions to problems
      2. Women tend to use expressive style, which is characterized by being able to express tender emotions easily and being sensitive to the feelings of others
      3. There are individual differences in preferred styles that are not consistent with gender role
    3. Common mixed-gender communication problems
      1. Mismatches
        1. Refers to discrepancy between expectations and reality, particularly in terms of support from friends, partner
        2. Generally results in frustration, confusion
      2. Rapport talk and report talk
        1. Women tend to engage in rapport talk (displaying similarities with others)
        2. Men tend to engage in report talk (exhibiting knowledge, skill)
      3. Talking about people versus things
        1. Women tend to talk about people rather than things
        2. Men are more interested in details about things like politics, news, and sports
      4. Lecturing and listening
        1. In public, women often end up listening to the man's "lecture"
        2. Men and women are playing games they learned in childhood
      5. The woman's double-bind
        1. In general, "male style" of communication will predominate
        2. Women who use male style tend to be viewed negatively
    4. Toward a "shared language"
      1. People tend to perceive style differences as other individual's personal failings
      2. Awareness of gender-based differences in communication can help improve communication process