Gender roles are the behaviours that society teach us as appropriate for boys and girls. These are based on gender stereotypes, which are “assumptions made about the characteristics of each gender, such as physical appearance, physical abilities, attitudes, interests or occupations.” (Gooden and Gooden, 2001). This essay will define and discuss gender and its significance throughout early childhood. Gender socialisation will be related to throughout this discussion as the effects of the family, the school, the media and the peer group on gender socialisation will also be looked at. To conclude the essay, statistics and studies will be discussed with relation to gender role socialisation.
Social learning theory (SLT) suggests that behaviour is learnt through observation and imitation of “models”. SLT explains gender role by saying children learn their gender role primarily through vicarious reinforcement. Children are positively reinforced for behaving in gender-appropriate ways (i.e. a girl playing with a doll) and are punished for behaving in gender-inappropriate ways (i.e. a boy playing with a doll).
Michael Rucker sates in his article “9 Differenced Between the Male and Female Brain” that “Many men are sharply left-brain dominant, while women tend to be more evenly balanced between left and right-brain processing. Women are therefore thought to be slightly more intuitive, and sometimes better communicators. Men are often less socially adept, and are more task-oriented thinkers than females.” (Rucker). Young boys can be rough because of testosterone but they tend to overthink their actions and decide on the “‘fight or flight’” reaction and coming from someone who is young, I can vouch for this. Females, on the other hand, follow their gut feelings and their “female intuition” and employ the “‘tend or befriend’” strategy.
Can parts of gender stereotype be biological? Can we link this to how children develop the ability to communicate and how they use it at a young age? There are many researchers discussing whether language acquisition between men and women are indeed different and many believe that its caused by gender bias among our society. The general concept is that we are not born with gender, but that gender is something we perform or learn to do. However, there is evidence to show that even at a young age, boys and girls that learn how to communicate, will learn at different speeds and will struggle with different aspects of learning how to communicate.
Outline and evaluate the cognitive explanations of gender. Martin and Halverson proposed in their gender schema theory that the development of a child’s gender is induced by their readiness to categorise gender information. This gender information is organised into schemas which are effective in organising the information as a means of using it to interpret new gender related experiences. Such interpretation will be of knowledge pertaining to gender type activities and behaviour. Where schemas are an essential aspect of Martin and Halverson’s theory, a major concern involves the lack of explanation regarding how such schemas are originally acquired.
It was hypothesized that participants’ whose parents were considered to have primarily used unfavorable methods would then exhibit higher levels of impulsivity than participants’ whose parents mainly used favorable methods. Additionally, it was hypothesized that males would show greater levels of impulsivity than females. A two-way ANOVA revealed that there no significant differences. The implications of these findings are discussed. Gender Differences in the Relationship between Parenting Styles and Impulsive Behavior Research in the field has shown powerful relationships between impulsive behavior and circumstantial factors such as upbringing and gender (Chapple & Johnson, 2007; Hayslett-McCall & Bernard, 2002; Sampson & Laub, 1995, as cited in Brannigan et al., 2002; Tittle, Ward, & Grasmick, 2003).
Boys are more likely to engage in physical aggression but boys and girls are equally likely to engage in verbal aggression. (Daena V.and De Souza 2007 Aggressive Behaviors Biologically and Environmentally) Males also see aggression as a way to gain status. Boys will fight each other to prove themselves. They are more apt to hang out with troubled peers than girls are. I believe that boys tend to be more aggressive than females.
Discuss Kohlberg’s theory of gender development... (9 marks+16 marks) Kohlberg proposed that children go through stages in the development of full gender identity. Gender identity is thought to be a person's inner sense of being male or female, usually developed during early childhood as a result of parental upbringing and societal influences and strengthened during puberty by hormonal changes. The first stage is known as “gender labelling” or “basic gender identity”. This occurs between 1.5 and 3 years, and refers to a child’s recognition of being male or female. Kohlberg understood that this recognition allows us to understand and categorise the world.
Kohlberg related many of these ideas to gender development. Kohlberg believed that children actively structure their own experiences, rather than passive learning through observing and imitating. According to his theory, children acquire understanding of gender in three stages. The first stage is gender labelling (2-3.5 years). At this stage children label themselves and others as girl or boy, but this is based only on outward appearance.
Cross Cultural Studies of Gender Roles Cross cultural studies are important as they help us to explain the nature / nurture debate. The nature side of the gender argument focuses on the biological explanations of gender roles stating that gender differences result from innate differences between males and females. The nurture side of the argument, on the other hand, focuses on social explanations stating gender differences result from our life experiences as we grow up. There is also an interactionist approach which is often more realistic as it takes both of these factors into account stating that gender differences are caused by innate tendencies which are modified by environmental factors, e.g. The biosocial theory.