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Behavioral Theories of Gender Development

Gender development refers to the process by which individuals construct their internal sense of self within the context of societal gender norms. Gender norms include traits stereotypically associated with genetic males (“masculine traits,” e.g., aggression, dominance, and competitiveness) and those associated with genetic females (“feminine traits,” e.g., nurturance, innocence, and passivity). In addition, gender norms define role acceptability in terms of biological birth sex. For example, men are often expected to work outside the home while women assume primary responsibility over child rearing.

Throughout the lifespan, individuals are exposed to countless influences on their development as gendered (or a-gender) individuals. Adults may selectively provide infants and children with gender stereotypic toys and clothing (e.g., dolls and pink for girls but trucks and blue for boys). ...

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