Psychology of Gender

We often interchangeably use the word ‘sex’ and ‘gender’.

However, ‘sex’ refers to biologically determined binary of male and female. That is males have XY Chromosomes, testes, and release testosterone hormone.

‘Gender’ refers to a set of characteristics or traits that the cultures expect of men and women according to their biological sex (male or female). Gender is not strictly binary, unlike sex. A person’s sex does not change from birth, but their gender can. As a result, in some cultures, there are third, fourth, fifth genders as well. The characteristics that generally define gender are referred to as masculine or feminine.

In the past people tend to have very clear ideas about what was appropriate to each sex and anyone behaving differently was regarded as deviant.

Today we accept a lot more diversity and see gender as a continuum (i.e. scale) rather than two categories. So men are free to show their “feminine side” and women are free to show their “masculine traits”.

The formation of gender is controversial in many scientific fields, including psychology. There are different perspectives as to how much of gender is due to biological, neurochemical, and evolutionary factors (nature), or is the result of culture and socialisation (nurture).

Gender Psychology thereby deals with the masculine and feminine traits or characteristics, the issues of discrimination of women, gender segregation of  work, gender socialisation, glass ceiling effect, self-fulfilling prophecy among women, and several other myths which are often regarded as conventional wisdom.


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