Discuss biological factors in the formation and development of gender roles.

Topics: Gender, Sex, Gender role Pages: 3 (1040 words) Published: September 17, 2014
Discuss biological factors in the formation and development of gender roles.

As people grow older they began to develop more complex ideas about gender. This includes their sense of gender identity as well as their knowledge of gender roles. Gender identity is one's sense of being male or female. By the age of two, most children can correctly label their own or another person's sex or gender. Between the ages of 3 1/2 to 7, children grasp be at the idea that a person's biological characteristics are fixed and the personal will remain male or female, called gender constancy. Development of gender identity is a step towards assuming a gender role, which is a set of expected behaviors for males and for females. Men and women tend to occupy different social roles and most cultures have certain ideas of what types of behaviors are typical and appropriate for each sex. Anthropologists Whiting and Edwards (1973) studied children in Kenya, Japan, India, the Philippines, Mexico, and the US. In the majority of these societies, girls were more nurturing and made more physical contact. Boys were more aggressive, dominant, and engaged in more rough and tumble play. Biological factors such as testosterone have been shown to greatly affect the formation and development of gender roles.

According to the theory of psychosexual differentiation, gender roles are formed because humans are born with innate predispositions to act and feel like males or females. This is largely due to the masculinizing effects of testosterone on the brain. Prenatal exposure to hormones is the most important factor in the development of gender identity, and socialization plays as a subsidiary role as well. Biological differences between boys and girls originates with genetic sex, which is determined by chromosomes (XX for girls and XY for boys). During prenatal development, sex hormones are released, causing the external genitals and in general reproductive organs of the fetus to become male or...
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