In most of the higher species, males and females. behave’ differently in some respects. With no culture to explain them these  sex differs must be footed in biology. This. -. ‘suggests (but -does not prove) that male female behavior_differences’ among humans . may also be. biologically based. The human sexes are visibly different in some physical .characteristics. 00 they also differ in behavior . capacities and natural inclinations?” Are ally such -differences great enough that culture must in some way reflect them?’ To some degree, the answer is yes. Work role ascription in simple societies was highly affected’ by physical sex differences fennel considerably . exceed won  in average upper-body strength. Although omen do a lot of moderately heavy physical labor in , many societies  tasks calling for bursts of great ‘. strength or speed, such as hunting, fighting, tree daring, or heavy lifting, are nearly always done by’men. The almost continuous childbearing and nursing in most societies -has generally limited women’s work to that which could be combined with baby’ care work which was repetitive, incorruptible, and calling for no great physical strength. This had the effect of assigning most of the adventurous and exciting work to men (possibly the earliest “fringe benefit”) and most of the drudgery to women. Yet there are enough exceptions, such .as males cooking in Samoa or baby tending in the Marquesas, to show that functional practicality was not the only determinant of gender work roles In modem societies physical strength arid


reproductive function are less important face tors in work-role ascription. Even the physical differences lire shrinking. In many fields of athletic competition torrential catching up with men, The gap between men’s and women’s records in all events which both enter has narrowed. by an average of one-third between .1934 and 1973 [Lips, 1978, p. 184], and women are expected to surpass men sorority in some events [Doujll1s and ~etler, 1977]. What are the facts about those Sex or gender different which affect achievement potential?Maccoby and Jacklin [1974, pfo. 349-355] reviewed all the available research on sex differences among Americans. They concluded that: (1) Research clearly establishes’ boys’ greater aggressiveness, boys’ greater mathematical and visual-spatial abilities [see also Benbow and Stanley, 1980), .and girls’ greater verbal ability. (2) Research establishes no significant sex differences in sociability, suggestibility, self-esteem, rote or repetitive learning higher cognitive learning analytic .ability, achievement motivation, responsiveness to auditory or visual stimuli, and responsiveness to heredity or to environment (3) Research is inconclusive or contradictory on sex differences in’ tactile sensitivity, fear timidity, anxietyactivity levels, competitiveness, dominance, compliance, and nurturer.

For even the real differences shown above,
we still have the c”{‘stion: Are they inherited
or learned differences? No known society
treats boys and girls alike. No known society
offers identical mille and female adult models.
for children to copy. If there is ilny chance
that boys and girls could have learned certain
different behaviors, we question whether they
art:’ biologically based. Furthermore, imy behavior
characteristic rooted in heredity will
appear in (11/ human societies. Most sex differences
in behavior fail this test. From this
we suspect that most sex differences in behavior
are learned not inherited.
But how about those sex differences which
might be biological? If males surpass females
in mathematical and visual-spatial abilities,
isn’t it reasonable to favor men for engineers
and .airline pilots? First, we are not certain
that these ability differences (Ire biological.
They may be, but this has not been proved.
Second, all sex differences (except in reproductive
apparatus) are Ilvcrage differences.
Most of these average differences are not very
great, with .a great deal of overlapping. Thus,
while boys’ math scores average higher than
girls’ scores, (11/ of the upper third of the girlsscore higher than all of the lower three-fifths
of the boys. If math scores are to be used as
admission tickets, should .16tthe scores themselves
be used rather than using gender,
which is only slightly associated with math
What does all this mean? Simply that (aside
from physical strength and reproduction) most
sex differences are social products, not biological
building blocks. With few exceptions,
sex roles can be whatever a society makes
them. At present, it is unclear what our
society wishes tl;lem to be. The traditional sex
roles of American society are under fierce
attack and are changing with a speed which
is gratifying to some and’-.upsetting to others.

Posted on September 2, 2014 in SEXUALITY AND SEX ROLES

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