Culture and gender
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Culture and Gender. Part 1. Definitions. Before we get into how culture influences gender dynamics, it’s important that we attempt to clarify some misconceptions. Let’s start with basic definitions of key terms. Sex Sex roles Sexual Identity Gender Gender role Gender Identity

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Culture and Gender

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Culture and gender

Culture and Gender

Part 1



  • Before we get into how culture influences gender dynamics, it’s important that we attempt to clarify some misconceptions. Let’s start with basic definitions of key terms.

  • Sex

  • Sex roles

  • Sexual Identity

  • Gender

  • Gender role

  • Gender Identity

  • Gender Stereotypes

Definitions cont

Definitions (cont.)

  • Sex - the biological and physiological differences between men and women.

  • Sex Roles - the behaviors and patterns of activities men and women may engage in that are directly related to their biological differences.

  • Sexual Identity - the degree of awareness and recognition of sex and sex roles.

  • Gender - behaviors or patterns of activities that a society or culture deems appropriate for men and women.

Definitions cont1

Definitions (cont.)

  • Gender Role - the degree to which a person adopts the gender-specific behaviors ascribed by his or her culture.

  • Gender Identity - the degree to which a person has awareness or recognition that he or she adopts a particular gender role.

  • Gender Stereotypes - the psychological or behavioral characteristics typically associated with men and women.

I ntroductory comments

Introductory Comments

Who does what? Who is culturally “permitted” to

do this or that?

  • It is clear that men and women perform different tasks in most cultures.

  • Hence, division of labor between the man and women, among other things, is said to be culturally determined and readily apparent.

I ntro comments cont

Intro Comments (cont.)

  • A prevalent view regarding gender-linked behavior is that the qualities cultures associate with masculinity or femininity are not innately male or female.

  • These are socially construed roles.

  • Sandra Bem is a leading expert on the social construction of gender roles. Her work on androgyny is particularly noteworthy.

Gender schema

Gender Schema

  • According to Sandra Bem, our attitudes and behaviors are based on our “gender schema” which she defines as a cognitive network of assumptions about the personalities and moral qualities of men and women.

Gender ideologies

Gender Ideologies

  • David Gilmore, the author of “Manhood in the Making” (1991), has proposed that we use “gender ideologies” to better understand gender differences.

  • He sees internalized gender ideologies as the collective representations that pressure men and women into acting in certain ways.

Culture and gender


Culture and gender

  • Parallels can be drawn between the impact of gender versus the impact of culture on psychology.

    • Thirty to forty years ago psychological research conducted on men has raised questions about whether it was applicable to women.

    • Women were included as participants, but gender differences were not examined.

    • Research on gender differences has documented the need to revisited psychological theories.

  • Similar for research on cultural differences

Culture and gender


The relationship between sex and gender across cultures

The Relationship between Sex and Gender across Cultures

  • Differences in sex roles exist universally

    • Georgas et al. (2006) study on 27 countries found that women did most of housework.

    • Fathers concerned with finances, expressive issues, childcare in all countries.

    • Mothers concerned with childcare only in less-affluent countries.

  • Cultures differ in nature and intensity of differentiation between the sexes; gender, gender roles, gender-role ideologies and gender stereotypes.

Culture and gender


Culture and gender stereotypes

Culture and Gender Stereotypes

  • Williams and Best (1982) studied 30 countries and found high pancultural agreement on the adjectives used to describe males and females.

    • In all countries, adjectives associated with men were rated as being stronger and more active.

    • Participants from Japan and South African rated male characteristics as more favorable; Italy and Peru rated female characteristics more favorable.

Culture and gender stereotypes1

Culture and Gender Stereotypes

  • Follow up studies by Williams and colleagues

  • These studies show gender stereotypes around the world to be stable.

    • Men are viewed as active, strong, critical, conscientious, extraverted, and open.

    • Women are viewed as passive, weak, nurturing, adaptive, agreeable, and neurotic.

Culture and gender stereotypes2

Culture and Gender Stereotypes

  • Other studies

    • support William and Best studies

    • examination of how gender stereotypes develop

  • Yet, many unanswered questions remain.

    • How congruent are behaviors with stereotypes and does this congruence differ across cultures?

    • Are stereotypes related to important psychological constructs or behaviors?

Culture gender role ideology and self concept

Culture, Gender-Role Ideology, and Self-Concept

  • Gender-role ideology has to do with judgments about what males and females ought to be like or ought to do.

  • Williams and Best (1990) study of 14 countries found:

    • Highly egalitarian: Netherlands, Germany and Finland

    • Highly traditional: Nigeria, Pakistan and India

Culture gender role ideology and self concept1

Culture, Gender-Role Ideology, and Self-Concept

  • Gibbons and colleagues (1990) studied adolescents and found that:

    • Adolescents from wealthier and more individualistic countries were less traditional

    • Gender ideologies may be changing as societies change

    • Religion may play a role in keeping with traditional gender roles

Culture and gender


Cross cultural research on gender

Cross-Cultural Research on Gender

  • Culture and Gender Stereotypes

    • Williams and Best (1982)-used the Adjective Check List where subjects characterized adjectives as male or female characteristics

      • Men are generally viewed as active, strong, critical, and adult like with needs such as dominance, autonomy, aggression, exhibition, achievement and endurance.

Cross cultural research cont

Cross-Cultural Research (cont.)

Women are viewed as passive, weak, nurturing, and adaptive with needs such as abasement, deference, nurturance, affiliation, and heterosexuality.

These researchers are suggesting that their findings support a “psychological universal” when it comes to gender stereotypes.

Cross cultural research cont1

Cross-Cultural Research (cont.)

  • Later studies, however, found considerable gender-related cultural differences.

  • These findings suggest that gender stereotype differentiation tended to be higher in countries that were conservative and hierarchical with low levels of socioeconomic development, Christian affiliation, and proportion of women attending a university.

Hofstede s study

Hofstede’s Study

  • Masculinity versus Femininity: degree to which culture will foster, encourage, or maintain differences between males and females

    • Highly masculine: Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Italy

    • Low masculine: Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden

  • Masculine and feminine cultures differ in sexuality and attitudes toward religion and adherence to religious beliefs about men and women.

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