Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 15, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971966 | Print ISBN: 9781412940504 | Online ISBN: 9781412971966| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Denise Taliaferro Baszile
In everyday language, gender is typically thought of as signifying biological differences between the male and female sexes. However, in the social sciences, gender is considered a social construct, a socially derived label that is indicative of certain behaviors and practices. In essence, females learn to become girls by exhibiting behaviors that are typically associated with the female sex. Likewise, boys learn to exhibit behaviors typically associated with the male sex. As such, society has distinct ideas about what constitutes girl or woman behavior and boy or man behavior. For instance, girls-women are purely emotional, and boys-men are superior at reasoning. These ideas are often portrayed and thus reinforced through many institutions, including the media, the church, the workplace, and schools. The pervasiveness of such gender distinctions give rise to stereotypes that support gender inequality. As a consequence, gender bias results in such dynamics as unequal pay, inequitable resources, and ...