Submit a 1,000-1,500-word essay on the differences and similarities between males and females. The textbook and lectures may be used as resources.The paper should include not only the similarities and differences listed in the topic materials, but also an assessment and personal examples of these (whether you see these in your own life or not).One additional scholarly journal article is required as a resource.Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the GCU Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.You are required to submit this assignment to Turnitin. Refer to the directions in the Student Success Center. Only Word documents can be submitted to Turnitin.Gender Perspectives
This lecture covers the biological, psychological, and environmental factors that affect the
concept of gender, along with the similarities and differences between the genders.
Additionally, the internal and external sexual anatomy of both males and females, along with
how each physically responds to sexual stimulation is discussed. Finally, models of the sexual
response cycle are examined.
Definitions of Gender
On the surface, the concept of gender seems like a fairly straightforward concept. We have
come to view people as male or female, men or women, boys or girls. Gender is actually much
more complex than that. When we classify someone as a male or a female, we are often
referring to the person’s sex, or biological differentiation. This differentiation can occur in one
of two ways. Genetic sex refers to one’s chromosomal makeup, with XX being female, and XY
being male (Collear & Hines, 1995). Anatomical sex refers to a person’s biological parts (e.g.,
penis, ovaries) (Santrock, 2007). Genetic or biological problems occur, however, which may
cause a person to possess multiple sex chromosomes (e.g., XXY, in the case of Kleinfelter’s
Syndrome), or to be intersexed, in which case a person possesses both male and female parts
due to trouble during sexual differentiation in utero (Santrock, 2007). Although the terms sex
and gender are often used interchangeably, the concept of gender may not actually reflect
biological sex. Gender identity is one’s subjective sense of being male or female, while gender
role expectations is the attitude one holds about how males and females should act, think, and
feel (Crooks & Baur, 2007; Santrock, 2007). In the case of gender identity disorder, a person’s
gender identity does not match his or her biological sex, given that the person is not intersexed
(Crooks & Baur, 2007).
Biological Processes
Before birth, males and females begin with the same tissue. Differentiation of the
gonads−testes and ovaries−begins about 6 weeks after conception, and biological sex is usually
visible with an ultrasound around 3 months (Santrock, 2007). Once the gonads are formed, they
begin to release hormones: the testes release androgens such as testosterone, and the ovaries
release estrogen and progesterone (Santrock, 2007; Sizonenko, 2008). These hormones begin
the process of structural differentiation among the sexes, which occurs around 8 weeks after
conception (Sizonenko, 2008). In males, the Wolffian ducts become the Vas Deferens,
ejaculatory ducts, and seminal vesicles, while the Muellerian ducts shrink because males
secrete a Muellerian-inhibiting substance (Sizonenko, 2008). Without androgens, the
Muellerian ducts develop into fallopian tubes, the inner 1/3 of the vagina and the uterus, while
the Wolffian ducts disintegrate in females (Sizonenko, 2008). Before differentiation, all fetuses
possess a urethral fold, a urethral groove, a genital fold, an anal pit, and a genital tubercle
(Sizonenko, 2008). During differentiation in males, genital tubercle becomes the glans of the
penis, the genital folds become the shaft of the penis, and the labioscrotal swelling becomes
the scrotum (Sizonenko, 2008). In females, the genital tubercle becomes the clitoris, the genital
folds become the labia minora, and the labioscrotal swelling becomes the labia majora
(Sizonenko, 2008). If difficulties arise during differentiation, an intersexed person may develop.
True hermaphrodites possess both ovarian and testicular tissues, while the external genitals are
a mixture of male and female parts (Crooks & Baur, 2008). Pseudohermaphrodites have
ambiguous genitalia, but gonads that match their chromosomal sex (Crooks & Baur, 2008).
Gender Differences/Similarities
For any gender difference, it is important to take into account that the differences within
groups is often greater than the differences between groups, meaning that, although
statistically there may be differences between males and females as a group, those differences
tell little about how an individual will perform on a given task (Collear & Hines, 1995; Oliver &
Hyde, 1993).
Brain Differences
With regard to brain differences, in general, males tend to perform better on mathematical and
visiospatial tasks; however, these differences are small, have been declining in recent years,
and depend on the task (Hyde, Fennema, & Lamon, 1990). Males tend to have a larger parietal
lobe, which may account for their visiospatial acuity (Linn & Petersen, 1985). Females, on the
other hand, tend to outperform males on verbal tasks, although these differences are small and
may have declined since first reported in the 1970s (Hyde & Linn, 1988). Females appear to
have a more connected corpus collosum, which may allow for greater ability in multitasking due
to better communication between the two halves of the brain (Collear & Hines, 1995; Crooks &
Baur, 2007).
Although some studies have found males to be generally more aggressive than females
(Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974), on the whole, gender differences in this area vary greatly depending
on the type of aggression and the way in which it is examined (Hyde, 1984). Some authors have
suggested that, while males tend to be more physically aggressive, females tend to be more
relationally aggressive (e.g., spreading rumors), and both sexes tend to engage in verbal
aggression (Santrock, 2007).
Pop-psychology books such as Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus have popularized
the perception that males and females differ in their approach to communication. Some
authors suggest that boys tend to engage in more report talk, or facts, and girls tend to engage
in more rapport talk, or relationship-based considerations (Santrock, 2007). These findings must
be tempered with the context, the nature of the relationship, and the gender of the other party
(Hyde, 2005; Santrock, 2007).
After an extensive meta-analysis of gender differences, Hyde (2005) concludes that the only
areas in which reliable, moderate- to large-magnitude differences emerge between males and
females are in the areas of throwing distance/velocity (men outperform women, especially
after puberty), sexuality (attitudes toward masturbation and sexuality), and physical aggression
(with males showing more physical aggression than females).
Influences on Gender
By the age of 3, most children develop a sense of gender identity (Santrock, 2007). Most
scientists assert that both genetic/biological factors and social/environmental factors play a
role in one’s gender identity, a theory termed the interaction model (Santrock, 2007). .
Social role theory asserts that, historically, females have controlled fewer resources than males.
Due to these differential conditions, males develop certain traits and strategies for surviving in
a male-dominated society (Santrock, 2007). Environmentally, parents may encourage and
reinforce gender role expectations for their children (Collear & Hines, 1995). They may
encourage boys to be more independent and engage in more motor skills, for example, while
girls are often encouraged to be nurturing (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Parents often select toys,
clothes, and activities based on their gender role expectations, which in turn influence the
child’s own gender identity. Social learning theory asserts that we learn behaviors by watching
and modeling others in our environment (Bandura, 1991). This may include parents, peers,
teachers, and even media figures. Siblings and schools also tend to reinforce gender role
expectations and influence gender identity (Collear & Hines, 1995). These influences grow
throughout childhood and adolescence, with young adolescents showing the greatest gender
role conformity (Santrock, 2007). Teachers tend to support gender-consistent behaviors, and
may treat boys and girls differently in the classroom (Saft & Pianta, 2001); however, this is
decreasing (Santrock, 2007). The media also has an effect on gender identity. Television tends
to be male dominated and gender stereotypical (Luecke-Aleksa, Anderson, Collins, & Schmitt,
1995). Children’s programming tends to be more gender stereotypical than adult programming,
and the more exposure a child has to the media, the more stereotypical gender roles they hold
(Santrock, 2007).
Evolutionary Psychologists assert that, to the extent that males and females face different
reproductive challenges, they develop different traits, skills, and strategies (Buss, 1998). These
differences in sexual strategies may help to explain why we observe differences in sexual
attitudes and behaviors (Hyde, 2005). These differences may also be seen in gender differences
in dating and mate selection (Buss, 1998).
Theories of Gender
Cognitive developmental theory of gender asserts that gender identity development follows a
biological course. According to this theory, children develop a gender identity based on their
biological sex when they understand the concept of gender constancy, which is the
understanding that they cannot change their sex (Kohlberg, 1966).
Gender schema theory asserts that gender is socially not biologically constructed, and that
children organize the world into schemas of behaviors, looks, feelings that are appropriate for
each gender. In this way, children develop a sense of what it is to be male and female (Bem,
Theorist Sandra Bem (1974) asserts that gender is not a one-sided continuum: One can possess
both male and female stereotypical traits, and an individual who possesses a large quantity of
stereotypical male traits can also possess a large quantity of stereotypical female traits.
According to Bem’s scale, someone who possesses a large quantity of stereotypically feminine
traits (e.g., nurturing, emotionality), and a low quantity of stereotypically masculine traits (e.g.,
independence, assertiveness) would be considered feminine, even if that person is biologically
male. Conversely, someone low on feminine traits and high on masculine traits would be
considered masculine. Someone low on both masculine and feminine traits would be
considered undifferentiated, and someone high on both masculine and feminine traits would
be considered androgynous. These orientations tend to persist over a person’s lifespan, and
androgynous people tend to be the best adjusted of the categories (Hyde, Krajnik, & SkuldtNiederberger, 1991).
Female Anatomy
Often times, the word vagina is used to refer to all external female genitalia. In reality, the
vagina, sometimes called the birth canal, is the term for the internal canal linking the outer
female genitalia with the cervix, the base of the uterus (, 2009a). The external lips
surrounding the outer end of the vagina are the labia majora, or large lips, and the labia
minora, or small lips (, 2009a). Also located along the vaginal opening are the
bartholin glands, which function to produce a mucus secretion (, 2009a). Finally,
the clitoris, a comparable organ to the glans of the male penis, is covered by a piece of skin, and
is very sensitive to stimulation (, 2009a). Internally, women possess the organs
needed to create and support pregnancy. The uterus, also called the womb, consists of the
cervix at the base, and the main body or corpus, which expands to nourish and support a baby
during pregnancy (, 2009a). Each woman possesses two ovaries, which house
unfertilized eggs and produce hormones such as estrogen and progestin (, 2009a).
Female eggs travel along the fallopian tubes from the ovaries to the uterus, where the fertilized
egg implants in the uterine wall (, 2009a). Women are born with approximately 1
million eggs, but only 300,000 survive to puberty. From these, approximately 300−400 will be
ovulated during her lifetime (, 2009a).
Male Anatomy
The term penis is often used to describe several male body parts. In actuality, the penis consists
of three parts: the shaft, the glans (or head of the penis), and the root, which attaches the penis
to the body (, 2009b). All men are born with a foreskin, skin that covers the glans of
the penis, but this is often removed during circumcision (, 2009b). When a man is
stimulated, the cavernous, spongy tissue inside the shaft of the penis fills with blood, allowing
for the penis to become erect (Crooks & Baur, 2009). When a man reaches orgasm, ejaculation
often occurs, which is not always linked to orgasm (Crooks & Baur, 2009). Ejaculated semen
contains both sperm−male reproductive cells−and fluids, which help to sustain the sperm and
allow them to reach the egg (Crooks & Baur, 2009). The male testicles or testes are olive-sized
organs that reside in a skin-covered sack called the scrotum (, 2009). The testes
produce testosterone, the male hormone, and also generate sperm (, 2009b).
Located toward the back of the testicle is the epididymis, a long, coiled tube in which sperm
reside once they leave the testes until they are mature (, 2009b). Once sperm is
mature, they travel through the vas deferens to the urethra, where they can be ejaculated. The
urethra, a part present in both males and females, functions to carry both urine and ejaculate
out through the penis. When the man ejaculates, urine flow is blocked, so that only ejaculate
leaves the penis (, 2009b). The prostate gland, located below the bladder, functions
to provide sperm with some of the fluids needed to stay alive, while the rest of the nourishing
fluids are provided by the seminal vesicles (, 2009b).
Sexual Response Models
Although there are several models of sexual response (including Kaplan’s three-stage model),
most research favors Masters and Johnson’s four-phase model. Based on extensive research on
the physiology of sex, Masters and Johnson (1966) outline four phases of sexual response:
excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. During the excitement phase, increased blood
flow to both the male and female sexual organs causes swelling, and erection in the case of
males (Phillips, 2008). This increased blood flow is termed vesocongestion (Masters & Johnson,
1966). Females begin to secrete vaginal fluids, and males begin secreting a lubricating liquid
through the urethra (Phillips, 2008). Other bodily signs include increased muscle tension,
accelerated heart rate and breathing, as well as flushing that may occur on the skin (Phillips,
During the plateau phase, which begins after excitement and lasts until orgasm, the
physiological changes that occurred during the excitement phase are intensified (Masters &
Johnson, 1966). Heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension all continue to rise (Phillips,
2008). In men, the testicles are drawn up toward the body, and, in women the clitoris becomes
extremely sensitive to touch (Phillips, 2008).
The orgasm phase, also termed the climax, is the shortest of all the phases, sometimes lasting
only a few seconds (Crooks & Baur, 2008; Phillips, 2008). There is considerable variation in how
people experience this phase, but, physiologically, rhythmic contractions occur in both the base
of the penis as well as in the muscles lining the vagina (Phillips, 2008). In women, the uterus
also contracts (Phillips, 2008). Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase, and orgasm is
often experienced as a sudden release of sexual tension (Phillips, 2008).
During the resolution phase, the body begins to return to its pre-aroused state (Masters &
Johnson, 1966). Men typically have a refractory period following orgasm, in which they are
incapable of returning to an excited state, though the length of time varies from man to man,
partially based on age (Crooks & Baur, 2008; Phillips, 2008). Women do not appear to have a
refractory period, and are capable of returning very quickly to the excitement, plateau, and
even orgasm phases, sometimes resulting in multiple orgasms (Crooks & Baur, 2008).
Though there may be some significant differences in what men and women do, think, and feel,
there are also many similarities−both psychologically and physically. When considering gender
differences, it is important to consider the magnitude of the difference as well as any practical
applications that may arise.
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