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Actual Gender Differences There are a number of documented gender differences Exs: aggression, activity level, compliance, emotional expressivity. But: Relatively few documented differences Gender stereotypes suggest more differences than are actually documented by research

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Actual Gender Differences There are a number of documented gender differences


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    1. Actual Gender Differences • There are a number of documented gender differences • Exs: aggression, activity level, compliance, emotional expressivity

    2. But: • Relatively few documented differences • Gender stereotypes suggest more differences than are actually documented by research • Even documented differences are relatively small in size • Average performance of males and females is not extremely different

    3. Gender Typing • Process by which a child: • Becomes aware of his or her gender • Acquires information about the characteristics and behavior viewed as appropriate for males or females (gender stereotypes) • Acquires the characteristics and behaviors viewed as appropriate for either males or females (gender roles)

    4. Developmental Trends in Gender Typing • By 2.5 to 3 years, children label their own sex and that of other people • Do not yet understand that sex is a permanent characteristic

    5. Development of Gender Stereotypes • By 2.5 years, children have some knowledge of gender stereotypes • Over the preschool/early school years, learn more about toys, activities, and achievement domains considered appropriate for boys versus girls • Ex (achievement): boys are good at math; girls are good at English

    6. By late elementary school, children know gender stereotypes associated with psychological characteristics (personality traits) • Ex: males are assertive, aggressive, ambitious; females are emotional, nurturing, dependent

    7. Preschoolers’ gender stereotypes tend to be rigid • Don’t usually realize that characteristics associated with sex (e.g., activities, clothing) don’t determine whether one is male or female • May be one reason they treat gender stereotypes as “rules” rather than as beliefs

    8. By elementary school, children’s gender stereotypes are more flexible • Understand that stereotypes are beliefs, not “rules” • But older children do not necessarily approve of “cross-gender” behavior

    9. Development of Gender Role Behavior • Between approximately 14-22 months, children begin to show sex-typed toy preferences • Sex-typed toy play increases through the preschool years • Children begin to avoid peers who violate gender roles

    10. Gender segregation develops by ages 2 to 3 years • Tendency to associate with same-sex playmates • Typically lasts until around the onset of puberty

    11. Gender Intensification: A magnification of sex differences early in adolescence • Associated with increased pressure to conform to traditional gender roles (from parents, peers) • Gender intensification declines over the course of adolescence

    12. Biological Influences on Gender Typing (Hormonal Influences) • Experimental animal studies indicate that exposure to androgens (male sex hormones): • Increases active play in male and female mammals • Promotes male-typical sexual behavior and aggression and suppresses maternal caregiving behavior in a wide variety of species

    13. Humans: • Cannot do experimental research for ethical reasons • Correlational research

    14. In boys, naturally occurring variations in androgen levels are positively correlated with • Amount of rough-and-tumble play • Levels of physical aggression

    15. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) • Disorder in which child is exposed to high levels of androgens from the prenatal period onward • Compared to girls without CAH, girls with CAH show • Higher activity levels • Greater interest in “male-typical” toys, activities, and occupations • Better spatial/mathematical abilities

    16. Environmental Influences on Gender Typing • Social Learning Theory • Gender typing results from • imitation of same-sex models and reinforcement for this behavior

    17. Parental Behavior • On average, differences in parental treatment of boys and girls are not large • Does not mean that parental behavior is unimportant because: • Younger children receive more direct training in gender roles than older children • Some parents probably practice differential treatment more intensely than others

    18. Parents create different environments for boys and girls beginning in infancy (e.g., bedrooms, toys)

    19. Parents give toys that stress action and competition to boys (e.g., guns, cars, tools, footballs) • Give toys that emphasize nurturance, cooperation, and physical attractiveness to girls (e.g., dolls, tea sets, jewelry, jump ropes)

    20. Parents reinforce independence in boys • React more positively when boys demand attention, run and climb, or try to take toys from others • Parents reinforce closeness/dependency in girls • More likely to direct play activities, provide help, encourage participation in household tasks, and refer to emotions

    21. Fathers tend to treat boys and girls more differently than do mothers • Engage in more physically stimulating play with infant sons than daughters • Less likely to give “girl toys” (e.g., dolls) to sons

    22. Pasterski et al. (2005) • Comparison of toy choices in girls and boys with CAH and their siblings (without CAH) • Girls with CAH played with “boys’ toys” more and “girls’ toys” less than their unaffected sisters • No differences between boys with CAH and their unaffected brothers

    23. Parental Behavior • Parents gave more negative responses to their unaffected sons than to their unaffected daughters for play with “girls’ toys” • Parents gave more positive responses to daughters with CAH than to unaffected daughters for play with “girls’ toys”

    24. Parental Behavior and Children’s Toy Choices • For unaffected children, parents’ positive and negative responses to children’s toy choices were related to children’s play behavior • Positive responses to children’s play with certain toys related to more play with those toys (and vice versa for negative responses) • For children with CAH, parental behavior was not related to children’s toy choices

    25. Peer Behavior • By age 3, children reinforce each other for “gender-appropriate” play (e.g., by praising, imitating, or joining in) • Criticize children who engage in “cross-gender” activities • Boys are especially critical of other boys

    26. Male and female peer groups promote different styles of interaction • Boys more often rely on commands, threats, and physical force • Girls use polite requests, persuasion—works with girls but not with boys

    27. Cognitive theories emphasize children’s active role in the process of gender typing (self-socialization)

    28. Cognitive Developmental Theory (Kohlberg) • Three Stages: • Basic Gender Identity: • Recognition that one is a boy or a girl • Emerges between 2.5 and 3 years

    29. Gender Stability • Understanding that gender is stable over time • Emerges between 3 and 5 years

    30. Gender Constancy/Consistency • Understanding that gender is constant/consistent across situations regardless of appearance or activities • Emerges between 5 and 7 years

    31. Kohlberg: Gender constancy leads to adoption of gender roles • Why is this incorrect?

    32. Gender Schema Theory: • Young children construct gender schemas • Schemas: Organized mental representations incorporating information about gender • Include children’s own experiences and information conveyed by others, including gender stereotypes • Schemas are dynamic—change as children acquire additional information

    33. Once children achieve basic gender identity, their motivation to adopt gender roles increases • Prefer, pay attention to, and remember more about others of their own sex • Use their gender identity and their gender schemas to guide their behavior

    34. Martin et al. (1995) Study 3: • Children used gender labels given to toys to guide their behavior • Ex: If a toy was labeled as a “boy” toy, girls reported that they were less interested in it and that other girls would also be less interested in it than if the toy was labeled as a “girl” toy (and vice versa for boys) • True even if the toy was very attractive

    35. Children show biases in their memory for information about gender • More likely to accurately remember information that is consistent with gender stereotypes • More likely to forget or distort information that is inconsistent with gender stereotypes