Definition of gender
Unger and Crawford (1993, p. 122) argue that the definition of gender becomes clearer when one makes a distinction between gender and sex. In their article, the authors review about five definitions relative to different female and male traits, which are either sex- or gender-oriented. Here, the authors note that there are obvious differences between male and female types of behavior. However, it is also worth noting that many behavioral and social scientists tend to overlook the fact that it is rather difficult to state whether certain observable traits are gene- or environment-correlated.
Thus, there is the risk that many people will argue that these behavioral differences are due to the biological factors in an individual. Therefore, according to Unger and Crawford (1993), “many social scientists do not take into account the difference between sex and gender when writing about various topics such as biologically sex-linked traits, sex, gender, or gender-linked traits” (p. 123).
That is why the authors recommend that the definition of gender be standardized through considering the major differences between sex and gender in that sex is a biological feature relative to maleness or femaleness while gender is a cultural-societal feature that reflects masculinity or femininity. Overall, it is certain that gender is a role but not a biological sex. (Unger, R.K., & Crawford, M. (1993). Commentary-sex and gender: The troubled relationship between terms and concepts. Psychological science, 4 (2), 122-124)
Gender development and differentiation
Bussey and Bandura (1999, p. 676) discuss the social cognitive theory underlying the development of gender functions and roles. Here, the authors note that gender roles develop out of interaction between individual experiences and motivational/self-regulatory mechanisms, which inform the gender-oriented behaviors in an individual throughout the process of life-span development. Furthermore, the authors point out that the social-cognitive theory is based on psychological and socio-structural determinants operating within the society.
As a result, Bussey and Bandura (1999) note that, “gender roles and notions arise from an extensive interaction of social factors involving different subsystems in the society” (p. 677). Accordingly, the biological aspect of humans offers the physical structures/biological characteristics, which underlie the possibility that an individual will act in a certain way rather than dictating a particular gender-oriented manner in which an individual should act.
Consequently, it is important to note that self-development/gender development is a personal initiative undertaken through an individual discovering his or her potentialities in the society, which offers a network of social influences responsible for social change and the development of different gender relationships. (Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106 (4), 676-713)
The cultural aspects of gender
Stack (1986, p. 321) asserts that the major difference between maleness and femaleness lies in the fact that to achieve moral development females tend to follow a certain model, which informs their responsibilities as opposed to their rights. Here, the author reviews different studies, which show that females are more concerned with particularistic or private issues particularly in relationships, family welfare, and the general social wellbeing. This aspect shows a particular culture that lives on from generation to generation, and thus, forms a major social influence that young growing girls are bound to encounter in their quest to identify with individuals sharing the same biological potentialities and gender roles (Stack, 1986, p. 322).
On the other hand, the author notes that males are more universalistic, and thus, they tend to be more involved in public issues affecting the whole population such as politics, leadership, decision-making, and policy formulation. Therefore, young boys grow in the environment where they encounter culture/social influences that reflect the gender roles appropriate for individuals sharing the same biological characteristics and potentialities. (Stack, C.B. (1986). The culture of gender: Women and men of color. Signs, 11 (2), 321-324)
Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106 (4), 676-713.
Stack, C. B. (1986). The culture of gender: Women and men of color. Signs, 11 (2), 321- 324.
Unger, R. K., & Crawford, M. (1993). Commentary-sex and gender: The troubled relationship between terms and concepts. Psychological science, 4 (2), 122-124.