Definition of Gender
(noun) The attitudes, behaviors, norms, and roles that a society or culture associates with an individual’s sex, thus the social differences between female and male; the meanings attached to being feminine or masculine.
Examples of Gender
- American English – /jEn-duhr/
- British English – /jEn-duh/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈdʒɛndər/
- British English – /ˈdʒɛndə/
- Plural: genders
- The difference between gender and sex is an oft discussed topic in sociology. The two terms are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. The range of arguments, debates, points and counter-points have filled countless volumes and will likely fill countless more.
- Use woman or man, when referring to gender and female or male, when referring to sex.
- The simplest distinction between gender and sex is that gender is socially constructed and sex is biological. These are two simplified definitions of a complex continuum of social and cultural practices and embodied knowledge, but it is a starting point to learn more.
- Distinction between ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’: vcampus.uom.ac.mu
- Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender: plato.stanford.edu
- Sex and Gender are Different: Sexual Identity and Gender Identity are Different: hawaii.edu
- Sex Difference vs. Gender Difference? Oh, I’m So Confused!: psychologytoday.com
- What do we mean by “sex” and “gender”?: who.int
- What is the difference between sex and gender?: med.monash.edu.au
- Gender expression is an outward display of gender, such as dress or manners.
- The term agender refers to a nonbinary gender status, in which an individual identifies as gender neutral or without gender. Agender is also called Gender Neutrois; gender neutral; and genderless.
- “Doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that are not natural, essential, or biological. Once the differences have been constructed, they are used to reinforce the ‘essentialness’ of gender” (West and Zimmerman 1987:137).
- “‘Gender,’ in the important sense developed by feminists, refers to our ideas of femininity and masculinity. It has to do with the relations of power between and within the sexes. It is the result of how we raise boys and girls to be men and women” (Kaufman and Kimmel 2011:53).
- “Gender isn’t something we’re born with. It’s something we perform. And we learn about doing gender through friends, school, religion, and family. We are taught to ‘do’ our gender in many ways. Our parents might tell us to toughen up when we go out for sports. If we’re boys, our parents might not worry if we stay out late. If we’re girls, we might get in trouble for getting angry” (Tarrant 2009:6–7).
- “The family is by far the most significant agent of socialization. Although social change has increased family diversity and created more opportunities for children to be influenced by other social institutions, the family continues to play the pivotal role in primary socialization. The family is responsible for shaping a child’s personality, emerging identity, and self-esteem. Children gain their first values and attitudes from the family, including powerful messages about gender. Learned first in the family and then reinforced by other social institutions, gender is fundamental to the shaping of all social life. Gender messages dominate and are among the best predictors of a range of later attitudes and behaviors” (Lindsey 2016:78).
- “There is an ordering of versions of femininity and masculinity at the level of the whole society, in some ways analogous to the patterns of face-to-face relations with institution. the possibilities of variation, of course, are vastly greater. The sheer complexity of relationships involving millions of people guarantees that ethnic differences and generational differences as well as class patterns come into play. But in key aspects the organization of gender on the very large scale must be more skeletal and simplified than the human relationships in face-to-face milieux. The forms of femininity and masculinity constituted at this level are stylized and impoverished. Their interrelation is centred on the single structural fact, the global dominance of men over women” (Connell 1987:183).
- Sex and Gender Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “gender” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Basow, Susan A. 1992. Gender: Stereotypes and Roles. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
- Borstein, Kate. 1994. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us. New York: Routledge.
- Bradley, Harriet G. 2012. Gender. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley.
- Brod, Harry, and Michael Kaufman, eds. 1994. Theorizing Masculinity. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Butler, Judith. 2004. Undoing Gender. London: Routledge.
- Grusky, David B, ed. 2014. Social Stratification: Class, Race and Gender in Sociological Perspective. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Holmes, Mary. 2007. What is Gender? Sociological Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Kessler, Suzanne J., and Wendy McKenna. 1978. Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach.
- Kimmel, Michael, and Michael Messner. 2013. Men’s Lives. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson.
- Richardson, Laurel. 1988. The Dynamics of Sex and Gender: A Sociological Perspective. New York: Harper & Row.
- Rosenblum, Karen Elaine, and Toni-Michelle Travis. 2016. The Meaning of Difference: American Constructions of Race, Sex and Gender, Social Class, Sexual Orientation, and Disability. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Williams, Christine L., and Arlene Stein. 2002. Sexuality and Gender: A Blackwell Reader in Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Connell, R. W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual Politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Tarrant, Shira. 2009. Men and Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.
Kaufman, Michael, and Michael S. Kimmel. 2011. The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gender.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved February 1, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/gender/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
gender. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/gender/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gender.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/gender/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“gender.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 1 Feb. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/gender/>.