Sex refers to
biological differences
between males and
Gender refers to the
cultural expectations
attached to feminine
and masculine roles.
The socio-biological view
(Biological determinism)
down stereotypical
characteristics of men
and women
Gender roles are biologically
determined and are, therefore,
fixed and unchangeable.
Wilson: Males are genetically
programmed to be more
promiscuous; females are
prone to remain loyal to one
Fox - history shows that men
are hunters, while women are
Goldberg - males
have an in- built
dominance tendency
NB. This view has
gained increasing
credibility in recent
years (ref “Why men
don’t iron).
Consensus theory
Parsons: In the family, men tend to
perform the instrumental tasks (a
concern with achieving a task or goal) and
women perform expressive tasks
(concerned with affection and emotion]
 The consensus view is that these gender
roles are natural, inevitable and functional.
The Feminist view
In most societies there is gender inequality
and women tend to be the losers in terms
of power, status and pay.
 This system of gender inequality benefits
men at the expense of women.
The Feminist view
Friedan: It was not women’s
biology that held them back
from competing with men on
equal terms, but the feminine
This was an ideology that
defined what it was to be truly
feminine, e.g. sensitive,
intuitive. BUT this implies
that women are not naturally
rational, logical and assertive.
The feminist view (continuted)
Friedan argued that the feminine mystique
prevented women from seeing their
potential and kept them locked in their
roles as as wives, mothers and carers.
 Kate Millett: developed the concept of
Patriarchy: male domination. She argued
that the oppression and exploitation of
women by men are build into every aspect
of the way society is organised.
Cross-cultural evidence about Gender
(Social Constructionism)
Gender is based on ‘nurture’ – socialisation and social
environment- Each society creates its own set of gender
expectations. Can you think if any examples that
illustrate this?
Ann Oakley -the Mbuti Pygmies of the Congo
have very little division of labour by sex; men
and women hunt together and share
responsibility for childcare.
Margaret Mead - differences in childrearing
techniques in three New Guinea tribes – extract
from soc in focus page 40.
Gender as Socially constructed
On the basis of cross-cultural evidence, it
is difficult to conclude that differences
between women and men in social roles
are purely the result of biology.
 Sociologists have therefore explored the
role of culture in shaping male and female
gender identities.
 In particular, the part played by gender
Much of our identity and
behaviour is the result of
experiences of interaction with
other people, especially during
Our gender identity is no
exception. Gender expectations
are transmitted to the next
generation through gender role
Gender role Socialisation:
The Family
Gender identity stems from:
imitation of parental role models;
parents rewarding gender-appropriate
behaviour (manipulation);
parents discouraging gender-inappropriate
Parents adopting different modes of speech
and terms of endearment depending on the
gender of the child;
The Family (continued)
Mothers’ preoccupation with female children’s
Parents giving children gender-specific toys,
books and games (canalisation);
Children being dressed in gender-specific
clothes and colours;
Parents assigning gender-specific household
chores to children;
parents socially controlling the behaviour of girls
more tightly than boys.
Find the following studies and note down
their evidence:
 Moss (1970)
 Will, Self and Datan (1984)
 Oakley (1981)
 Damon (1977)
 Statham (1986)
Gender role Socialisation:
Until the 1990s the hidden curriculum
transmitted gender-stereotyped assumptions
about feminine behaviour through teacher
expectations, timetabling, career advice,
textbook content etc..
There still remains gender differences in subject
choices, especially in H.E.
Working class girls are still following traditional
gender routes - leave school at 16, temporary
jobs, marriage, motherhood.
Education (continued)
The hidden curriculum, through teacher
expectations, may be resulting in working-class
boys following traditional gender routes into
manual jobs. Controlling masculine behaviour
may become more important than ensuring boys
receive a good education.
Young males may reject academic work
because of equating learning with femininity.
Find the following studies and note down
their evidence:
 Sue Sharpe (1976;1994)
 Michelle Stanworth (1983)
 Dale Spender (1983)
 Lobban (1974)
 Thomas (1990)
 Christine Skelton (2002)
Gender role Socialisation
The Peer Group
Working class boys may reject the goals of
schooling and set up anti-school
subcultures (Paul Willis);
 Mac An Ghaill - such subcultures may be a
reaction to a ‘crisis in masculinity’, as
working-class boys learn that traditional
working-class jobs and roles such as
breadwinner and head of household are in
The Peer Group (continued)
Membership of deviant subcultures may confer
status on boys for exaggerating masculine
values and norms while negatively sanctioning
behaviour defined as feminine.
There is an assumption that men and women
have different sexual personalities. If women
behave in a similar way to men, they will be
labelled and will ‘develop a reputation’ (Sue
Gender role socialisation
The Mass Media
Feminists are critical of a range of mass
media that socialise females into either
domestic or sexualised patterns of
 Popular literature, especially fairy tales
and children’s stories, portray females as
the weaker sex and males as heroes;
 Children’s books portray traditional gender
The Mass Media (continued)
Magazines for teenage adolescents encourage
them to concentrate on appearance and
romance rather than on education and careers;
Women’s magazine’s are apprentice manuals
for motherhood and domesticity;
Adverts continue to show women
disproportionately in domestic roles and
emphasise their physical looks and sex appeal
at the expense of ability and personality;
The Mass Media (continued)
‘New lads’ magazines and pornography
assert a very traditional view of masculinity
organised around interpreting women as
sexual objects, sport and drinking culture.
Find the following studies and note down
their evidence:
 Gay Tuchman (1981)
 Angela McRobbie (1982)
 Marjorie Ferguson (1983)
What does the biological determinism theory suggest
about gender?
What is social constructionism?
What does the above approach suggest about gender
Who did Margaret Mead study in 1935?
What is gender role socialisation?
What does Goldberg suggest about something being
inbuilt in males?
What does consensus theory suggest about gender
Download this powerpoint and find out details of
the studies or any that I have missed out using
your photocopied booklets.
Read pages 43-44 and make notes from the
photocopied booklet.