Gender Role Socialization

Gender is specific to humans and connotes all the complex attributes ascribed by societies to human females and males, respectively. Only among humans there are girls and boys, women and men (i.e., gendered social categories). Gender is constructed or learned from the particular conditions, experiences, and contingencies that a society systematically and differentially pairs with human femaleness or maleness (the sex ascription given at birth). The category of gender is used by societies to assign social status and to regulate social behavior. We learn to respond to others on the basis of gendered cues with particular expectations, evaluations, and actions.

When a child is born, its sex is typically apparent, and of immediate and utmost concern to parents, relatives, and friends. Sexual identification—“It’s a boy” or ...

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