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How Accurate Are People’s Beliefs about Gender Differences?



Abstract

The paper seeks to investigate how accurate are people’s beliefs about gender differences. In chapter one, the paper analyzes the background of the study, the statement of the problem, and the research objectives. It also explains the research questions as well as the scope and aims of the study. The paper has two hypotheses, which the researcher will try and compare. In chapter two, the study gives a literature review of gender differences where it compares what different authors have argued about the stereotypes in gender differences. Chapter three provides the methodology part with the analysis of the population sample, the study design, how the data will be collected, as well as how it will be analyzed. Thus, based on the research, the paper concludes that the statement that gender differences are influenced by innate biological differences in men and women's minds is a delusion since gender is a socio-cultural construct of being male or female.

Keywords: stereotype, gender differences, socio-cultural

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Introduction

Background of the Study

The concept of gender (and sex) has been one of the central themes of anthropological inquiry. Some scholars and researchers argue that innate biological differences in men and women’s minds are responsible for gender differences between them. For instance, such scholars propose that innate brain differences can be used to explain why there are a few successful women in science careers. However, it needs to be pointed out that gender differences between men and women cannot be based solely on the biological differences between them (Storek & Furnham, 2012). It is because being a man or a woman biologically does not directly translate into being masculine or feminine. The paper evaluates the accuracy of people’s beliefs about gender differences.

Statement of the Problem

Though the accuracy of stereotypes has been largely controversial, many scholars deliberate on this issue. The danger of focusing on gender differences is that people start thinking that males and females have personalities that are entirely different. Though there are some differences, what is more, impressive are the similarities. Thus, further research on the topic is required. The study, therefore, investigates the accuracy of people’s beliefs about gender differences and whether they are grounded.

Objectives of the Study

Main objective: to investigate the accuracy of people’s beliefs about gender differences.

Specific Objectives

  1. To analyze the beliefs that people hold regarding each gender;
  2. To determine how cultural and societal stereotypes about gender play a significant role in justifying femininity and masculinity;
  3. To analyze the stereotypes about being masculine and feminine;
  4. To analyze how different societies view gender differences between being male and female.

Research Questions

  1. What does it stand for to be a man or a woman?
  2. What does it mean to be a male or a female?
  3. Does sex produce gendered differences?

Scope and Significance of the Study

The study seeks to educate people to abandon the stereotypes they have had concerning gender differences. The study will try to prove that sex differences are not a hindrance to one's performance whether they are male or female. The study is useful for academic purposes as it can be used by other students to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Additionally, this study will compile all the findings for implementation. All the insights that are related to gender differences will be recorded for further studies.

Hypothesis One

People’s beliefs about gender differences are accurate

Hypothesis Two

People’s beliefs about gender differences are not accurate.

Literature Review

What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Does sex produce gendered differences? These questions are fundamental in the given analysis of social and biological foundations of gender and sex. Gender differences can be explained by the socio-cultural than biological differences in men and women. To begin with, many researchers assume that men and women have different abilities that are innate and unchangeable in nature. Such studies tend to justify that gender differences between men and women are hardwired and that it might be difficult to fight for gender equality. This kind of assumption is wrong. Although it cannot be denied that there are differences in the human brain related to the sex of an individual, it needs to be pointed out that the human mind is not necessarily influenced by sex differences (Hirnstein, Coloma Andrews, & Hausmann, 2014). It is rather under the strong influence of social and cultural factors.

Comparison of Authors’ Arguments

Cultural and societal gender stereotypes play a significant role in justifying femininity and masculinity in persons. According to Casper & Rothermund (2012), it is these stereotypes that influence people's perceptions of others. Moreover, Hirnstein, Coloma Andrews & Hausmann (2014) state that the stereotypes influence people's perceptions of themselves, as well. The researchers conducted a study on whether girls perform poorly in sciences as opposed to boys and they found out that that was just a perception aimed at stereotyping boys to be brighter than girls. Both studies did not use the same methods as one relies on the youth as their population samples.

The first research used a qualitative method where it used a population sample consisting of aged people as participants. The findings were that gender stereotypes differ from one society to the other. The stereotypes are the ones that bring these perceptions about gender differences. The second research used a descriptive method where the social phenomenon was explained in detail. Though it uses a sample population of young people, the findings are that gender perceptions are a result of stereotyping of both genders.

An example of the application of stereotypes to justify the existence of gender differences in the performance of math and art tests by male and female students. It is commonly believed that boys are good at mathematics while girls are good at art subjects. Thus, boys tend to succeed better in math than girls do. On the other hand, girls perform better in art subjects. However, these are just stereotypes (Storek & Furnham, 2012). There are girls who perform exemplary in science while some boys are good in art subjects. After all, whenever people are not thinking of themselves as "male" or "female," their judgments are normally the same (Storek & Furnham, 2012).

Storek & Furnham (2012) state that science tries to justify gender differences between men and women. Based on the general misconception of men’s and women’s different abilities, there exists a common belief that men are better at science than women are. For this reason, there are fewer women starting science careers such as engineering and medicine. However, it does not mean that all women are bad in sciences as such, and many of them excel in science subjects. The same concerns men.

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Thus, according to Storek & Furnham (2012), society expects a man to be a leader - aggressive, ambitious, analytical, competitive, dominant, independent, and individualistic. It is also important to note that cultural and societal expectations cannot be separated from what people think about themselves. That is why it will be difficult to trick a female mind to think that it is male. Both men's and women’s brains are the same. It is the societal expectations that force men and women to behave in the same way subconsciously. For instance, society expects a woman to be someone who is compassionate, loves children, dependent, interpersonally sensitive, and nurturing.

Casper & Rothermund (2012) agree with Storek & Furnham (2012) in that society and culture influence one's mind implicitly and explicitly. A good example of this statement is how it conveniently equips men and women with those qualities they need to discharge their duties. Both men and women are born in an environment where gender is normally the most obvious social division. As they grow up, men and women are saturated with information on cultural correlates of gender. For instance, society and culture enable women to choose the social roles that suit their female minds the best. In the long run, after being triggered by the social cues, the mind uses its female identity to equip itself with greater sympathy, compassion, sensitivity, and other traits that are culturally considered as being appropriate for women (Storek & Furnham, 2012).

The differences in the various studies are due to the fact that they used different kinds of samples. It can thus be said that the perception that gender differences are influenced by innate biological differences in men and women's minds is a delusion. This conclusion can be drawn from the understanding that genders a socio-cultural construct of being male or female. Gender differences between men and women tend to vary across time and space.

They also tend to vary from one society or culture to another. Therefore, it is important not to unconditionally state that gender is a product of innate and unchangeable characteristics. Sex differences in the brain are not relevant to real-world accomplishments. It is rather gender identities that tend to influence people's activities. These identities tend to be useful and adapting. They enable people to fit in various situations since gender identities tend to influence people's behaviors and actions.

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Methods

A study must have a designed approach to identifying problems in question. The methodology seeks to find the answers to the questions that the study enlisted. In this study, participants must be selected with specific attributes, data has to be categorically collected and analyzed in a proper way. The dissemination of this data must also be ensured.

Study Design

As aforementioned, the need to investigate the accuracy of people’s beliefs about gender differences is to be explored in this study. Moreover, it seeks to explore the effect that the stereotyping has in different societies and cultures and its impact on the formation of gender differences. It is, therefore, proposed to use a qualitative method to obtain the necessary information regarding the issue of gender differences. Therefore, the study will be based on a qualitative idea. It will get the responses from the participants through a qualitative phenomenology and use it to enlist various stereotypes that lead to gender differences in various cultures.

This research elaborates on its topic and objectives that purport to trigger the attributes of the participants. This method will give the participants the chance of understanding the purpose of this study. Moreover, the method allows the participants to share the experiences they have with respect to the research questions. This method is suitable for this study since it ensures obtaining in-depth data from the participants on their knowledge of gender differences and similarities.

Population Sample

A population is a selected group of people who are fit to participate in a study. Thus, it has to meet specific requirements. Plowright (2013) explains that a sample must be obtained from the population and should include specific characteristics

Procedures

The sampling procedure that will be used will be clustered sampling. The representatives of a population are placed in different groups known as clusters, and then a sample is randomly selected from each cluster. The cultures are categorized based on their specific characteristics. In the case of this study, the participants will be put into different cultures based on their genders. The four clusters that will be used for sampling include; race, religion, occupation, and age.

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Participants

In each cluster, a sample of 25 participants will be selected for sampling. It will make up a total sample of 100 participants to be included in the study. Therefore, a total of 100 questionnaires will be sent to the participants.

Measures

The research presumes a detailed approach seen in various qualitative research studies. This type of sampling ensures that the right information is found from the participants.

Data Collection

Data will be collected using both secondary and primary sources. For secondary sources, the research will use peer-reviewed scholarly articles to obtain data regarding the topic. Data collected in this study will be taken from a face to face interview. The researchers will engage the respondents in the face to face questioning with open-ended and semi-structured interviews. It will allow the researcher to obtain access to non-anticipated information. This type of interview will also ensure consistency in obtaining the purpose of the research. The interviews will be recorded as well as a note written. The participants will be made aware of the recording of the responses during the interview.

Notes will include the observations made by the interviewers. The data collected will then be stored in a safe way per the protocols of the research. After a successful formulation of data, the notes will be destroyed. Since this is qualitative research, the questions shall be guided by the participants' responses. Steffen (2014) explains that qualitative studies aim at evaluating the experience in participants making the questions for each participant different. The researcher will indulge the participants in elaborative questioning for more clarity.

This research will require the creation of a good rapport during the interviewing to enable access to important information. The researcher will ensure that they avoid assumptive thought to ensure precision during the study.

Ethical considerations. The research must be approved by the relevant approval board. The participants will be highly regarded and safeguarded. Anonymity will be maintained to ensure confidentiality throughout the study. Exploitation and harm to the participants will be avoided. The participants will be allowed to consent to will before they participate in the study. Pseudonyms will be used to represent the participants for purposes of confidentiality Stephen, 2014).

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