A Social Psychological Perspective
Chapter 6. Gender Differences
← 70 | 71 → ·6·
Social-psychological research on differences between women and men has a long tradition (see, e.g., Deaux, 1984, for an early review). In part, this is due to the “convenience of using sex as a variable in analysis” (Deaux, 1985, p. 56). However, as Deaux also pointed out, an atheoretical or even opportunistic search for gender differences is not very fruitful. What have we explained if we know that the fact of whether someone is male or female is related (typically in some small way) to some psychological outcome? A person’s gender “serves only as a gross marker” (Deaux, 1984, p. 108). What we want to know is what underlies such a difference, psychologically. Nevertheless, for practical rather than theoretical purposes, it could be informative to know, for example, whether vocational interests of women and men differ (even if the search for answers will probably yield underlying psychological factors). Therefore, in this context, what we are interested in are responses to the question of whether there are differences in abilities, interests, and behavior between women and men that may explain gender segregation at work (i.e., why men and women end up in very different occupations).
Before turning to differences between women and men, two words of caution are necessary to avoid misinterpretations. First, as pointed out earlier, ← 71 | 72 → gender distributions overlap largely, and gender differences are comparatively small. Men and women are much more similar than different in most social-psychological aspects, particularly those related...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.