- stereotypes are often based on actual gender differences
- gender differences are celebrities in media, research and marketing
- if you search often enough for gender differences, you will find some – whether they exist or not
- it is difficult to understand to what extent gender differences are congenital or socialized
Overview of topics:
(congenital + socialization)x = Stereotype
Interaction of congenital, socialization and stereotype
He who seeks, will find
(congenital + socialized)x = stereotype
What does this formula mean:
|“congenital” …||genetic disposition → congenital sex differences|
|“socialized” …||gender differences learnt due to the influence of the environment|
|“congenital + socialized” …||the actual gender differences present (congenital and/or learned)|
|“(congenital + socialized)x” …||actual gender differences exposed into the unrecognizable|
→ the origin of stereotypes often lies in actual gender differences. However, these were then generalised and over-dimensioned. In the end, stereotypes no longer have much to do with reality.
*The proportion to which the individual components contribute to a stereotype is unknown. The selected numbers are examples and are used for illustration purposes.
The visualization shows that stereotypes about gender differences are for the most part wrong. Different effects of the human psyche work together when we generalize differences and oversize them.
Interaction of congenital, socialization and stereotype
When we observe a gender difference, it is difficult to determine whether and to what extent it is congenital or learned. Theoretically, you would have to let people grow up in complete isolation to rule out the possibility that a behavior has been learned. Learning is done on the model, through imitation but also through perceived expectations of the environment. If I jump in the church, my environment will quickly make me understand that my behaviour is not appropriate.
And actually, many behaviors stem from an interaction of congenital, socialization and stereotype. A congenital gender difference is often additionally socialized. Suppose a boy has an innate disposition to play the guitar. He shows interest in the instrument by himself. His parents learn from his talent and want to encourage him. They decide to let him take guitar lessons. The boy’s innate interest is additionally socialized by his parents.
Example of interaction
Now let’s assume that boys have a greater interest in playing the guitar than girls. It could look like this: 25 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys are interested in playing the guitar. Nobody would remember the concrete numbers. Instead, the stereotype would be “boys like to play the guitar”. Only parents who believe their child might be interested in playing provide it with guitar lessons. The result could be that 50 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls get guitar lessons. The innate difference of 25 versus 30 would have been dramatized by the influence of the stereotype and socialization by the parents to 5 versus 50.
In reality, it wouldn’t just be the behaviour of the parents. If the boys and girls themselves thought that playing the guitar was a boy’s activity, their preferences would also adapt. Stereotypes change the norm within a society. As a result, the population´s behavior actually approaches the stereotype. In this case one speaks of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Mega Promis
Which woman does not need it – the sausage especially for women. There are also gherkins separated by gender. Not that the product differs in any way, but the sticker on the glass is different. What are the desperate marketing teams supposed to do if their task is to further specify the target group? Dividing target groups according to their user behaviour is so complicated and gender always works, right?
What would comedians do if they could not ridicule gender dispositions? Just say the word “women” with a long “e” after a sentence and some people will applaud you. Gender always works, right?
Gender always works, right?
News articles, books, coffee-table gossip. Gender always works, right? Gender differences are mega celebrities in all areas and as is the case with real mega stars, one is overwhelmed by information about them without being asked. We hear little truth and instead stories that are exaggerated beyond recognition and sometimes simply false. Through the constant impulses to see differences between the sexes, our brain is trained on it. We overlook the mass of similarities and focus on the tendential differences.
Our brain – even when consciousness intervenes from time to time – absorbs everything like a good boy. Given the amount of repetitions, the subconscious can hardly resist putting the exaggerated gender differences on the same level as factual knowledge. Information that we hear often enough we believe, even if we do not trust the source of information. In fact, we forget the source and simply store the information. And before we know it, we suddenly buy sausages according to our gender.
Who seeks, will find
And even researchers include customarily tests of gender differences. For example, let us assume the following: I have measured the time it took many people to learn a certain magic trick. On average, the participants needed three hours of learning to perform the trick cleanly, whereby some needed just under an hour, others all day. Now I want to know if there are certain groups within all participants who have learnt particularly quickly. Other magicians, for example, should find it easier to learn a new trick. So I see if there are differences when I divide people into their professions. In this way, researchers almost always look whether there are gender differences. As I said, gender always works, right?
There’s a problem now. “Out of 20 tests for gender differences, one will certainly give a statistically significant result – even without any difference between the groups,” says Cordelia Fine, a neuroscientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia1. The more we look for differences on a trait (gender), the more differences we will find – whether or not they exist.
Why does Happy Jona make gender differences a topic again then? Unfortunately, it is not possible to simply take away the wrong part of stereotypes that our society has ascribed to genders. Instead, we have to start from scratch and learn anew what gender differences actually exist. Only then the wrong park will disappear.
Here are some of the exciting topics that await us:
- Evolution of gender differences
- What is the parental investment?
- Differences in anatomy, hormones and genetics
- Are there congenital differences in cognitive performance?
- Differences in self-assessment
- The moral question
- Two worlds of dominance
- Partnership – how does it fit together?
Reading advice: You can just read the page and click at the end of a page to the next topic!
» next topic:
We get to the bottom of the question what it means that gender differences are innate!
sources: 1. spektrum.de requested 19.07.2019