Understanding Gender Roles and Sexuality


This paper explains sex and gender and the differences that arise in males and females. It will explain the different research comparing the Male and Female psychologically. This paper explores published articles that report on results from research conducted from NSU Alvin Sherman Library Research Databases and Journal Articles. This report will explain gender-role development in a child, adolescent and adult. This report covers gender roles and stereotypes, compares the difference and similarities. The paper will also cover Dr. Kohlberg Theory.

Understanding Gender Roles and Sexuality

Gender roles and sex roles can explained as how a person is expected to behave based on sexual gender (McHugh & Freeze 1997) Gender roles are the patterns of behavior that females and males should inherit in society. Distinguishing the different concepts between sex and gender roles are very important. Sex is the physical characteristics that define male and female. For instance, females will menstruate because of their hormonal and physiologic makeup, this component is made up from their biological sex. On the other hand Males will tend to have larger bones and muscle mass than females, which is one of the many biological differences. (Sigelman & Rider, 2018,) As stated in our text book, there is a major physical difference between males and females. Zygote that receives an X chromosome from each parent is a genetic (XX) female, whereas a zygote that receives a Y chromosome from the father is genetic (XY) male. In rare cases of sex chromosome abnormalities this is not the case; a girl may have only one X chromosome or a boy have three sex chromosomes (XYY or XXY).Chromosomal differences result in different prenatal hormone balances in males and females, and hormone balances before and after birth. (Sigelman & Rider, 2018, pp. 366-367) Gender roles are the patterns of behavior that females and males should adopt in today’s society. For example, in most cultures Women will stay home and take care of the children. Men would be the ones would go out and work and be the head of household. One of societies gender roles stereotypes for women our is women are able to bear a nurse children, they have adopted the role be more qualified to stay home and take care of children. Men have been brought up to adopt traditional trades as playing the role of a husband and father. These roles will consist of the husband and father providing and protecting the family. Baren- Cohen (2003) suggest that men’s main priority to focus on work, achievement, and taking care of his family.

Gender Differences and Similarities

According to Jennifer Petersen research, evolutionary psychology states that gender differences in sexuality are a result of evolution and a product of men and women differing in their strategies for genetic success (Buss, 1995). When maximizing the number of viable offspring who pass on their parents’ genes reproductive success is achieved. A prominent interpretation of evolutionary psychology applied to sexuality is sexual strategies theory (Buss, 1998; Buss & Schmidt, 1993). This theory states that women tend to focus on ensuring the lively hood of each offspring by choosing a mate who will protect and provide for the family. Due to women only being able to give birth to and care for only a certain number of kids, ensuring offspring survival is the best and most certain means of genetic success.(Petersen & Hyde 2007) Futhermore, sexual strategies theory argues that males, who are not limited in their reproductive magnitude, historically desired temporary sexual partners, in hopes that these relationships will result in children passing on their genes. It is more likely for men to try and have chilldren with short-term partners, this theory proposes that a desire for multiple partners and frequent intercourse evolved for men across many previous generations. Therefore, the theory proposes that gender differences in sexual strategies produce gender differences in sexuality (Buss & Schmidt, 1993). In particular, this theory suggests that it is more common for men to partake in sexual behaviors, have many sex partners, and have more casual sex than woman. In terms of sexual attitudes, evolutionary psychology predicts that men would be more accepting than women of attitudes requiring little sexual commitment, such as attitudes toward premarital sex, attitudes toward extramarital sex, attitudes toward casual sex, and general sexual permissiveness (Petersen & Hyde 2007) According to Peterson and Hyde there are sixteen sexual attitudes. General sexual permissiveness: Attitudes about sexuality, such as a general measure of sexual permissiveness. Premail Sex: sex before marriage, Casual sex: sex when dating or in a non-serious relationship, Extramartial sex: engaging in sex with someone other than your spouse, sex while engaged to be married. Sex-commiment sex between partners who are committed in love. Masturbation: sexual stimulation of ones own parts. Condoms, double standards,fear anxiety/guilt. Sexual satisfaction, homosexuals, gaymen, lesbians and homosexual civil liberties. Civil unions and gay marriage.(Peterson& Hyde 2007) these are some sexual attitudes that go hand hand with gender roles.

The Infant and child roles

When a child is in the infant stage then tend to be the same however people may treat them different due to the sex of infant. This is how infants form category and perhaps even nicknames. For example, like “Little man” for a boy infant and “pretty princess” for a female infant. As soon as the child is born in the hospital, nurses will wrap girls in pink blankets and boys in blue. This helps identify the sex of the baby by just looking at the color of the clothes. When the child is at an infant stage it is very hard to distinguish the sex of the child if the child is fully clothed. Face features are very similar and one is not able to tell if the infant is more “masculine” or “feminine” until 3 or 4 months of age. By 18 months toddlers seem to have already developed the understanding if they are a female or male infant. (Martin, Ruble, & Szkrybalo,2002) once the infant begins to develop their gender identity, different behavior arises. If a girl toddler, Barbie and more girly games would be attractive. As stated in our texted book the child begins understand society’s gender stereotype by the age of 2-3 years of age. The child is able to tell what toys a female or male should play with. For example, toys that are more masculine such as GI Joes, a male child would pick that up and play with it. If it is a Barbie doll house he typically would leave it there and not play with it at all.


  1. Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2018). Life-span human development. Australia: Cengage Learning.
  2. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136(1), 21-38.
Did you like this example?