gender differences

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1. Often used synonymously with gender.

2. Differences in attitudes, values, or behaviour attributable to social constructions of gender rather than to biological differences but which are naturalized within cultures through socialization (see alsogender roles; naturalization). Some theorists argue that the differences between cultures in their construction of gender suggest that gender differences constitute relatively arbitrary codes.

3. Differences attributable to the ways parents and others treat children according to their sex, within cultural norms.

4. Differences reproduced by the influence of gender stereotypes on children at an impressionable stage.

5. (gender inequalities) Gender role inequalities caused by institutional gender bias.

6. Differences attributed to biological factors, such as chromosomal and hormonal differences and (controversially) differences in brain structure and function.

7. Psychological differences between the sexes. Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacklin's The Psychology of Sex Differences in 1974, identified a tendency for males to perform better than females on mathematical and visual-spatial tasks (see alsofield dependence and independence; spatial perception), for females to perform better than males on verbal tasks, and for males to be more aggressive than females. On most tasks, there were no consistent differences. Subsequent studies have tended to indicate fewer differences in these domains, but have noted that females tend to conform more in groups, to be more easily persuaded, and to be better at decoding nonverbal behaviour than males (see alsodecoding ability). Differences have also been noted in communication styles (see alsoexpressive communication; instrumental communication). However, differences between members of the same sex often outweigh differences between the sexes.

8. A posited tendency for females to be markedly less resistant to identification with characters of the other sex in narratives than are males: see alsogendered identifications; male gaze.

9. In traditional Freudian psychoanalytic theory, differences produced in childhood by the passage through the Oedipus complex: see alsoidentification theory.

10. In Marxist theory, inequalities between the sexes produced by the power relations in capitalist society.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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