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Gender Roles Biologically Based Socially Constructed

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The writing of this journal is inspired by the disparities in the performance in mathematics tests by men and women. Guiso, et al. both in the teaching profession observed that men tend to perform better in mathematics as compared to their female counterparts. However, to increase the mean score in mathematics in class, both boys and girls have to perform well in the subject. It is in this regard that Guiso, et al. wrote this article in an attempt to change the cultural beliefs and stereotypes that cause disparities in the performance in mathematics between the two genders. In the article, it is argued that the poor performance in maths has nothing to do with biology but rather has everything to do with culture which socializes the girl child to believe that maths is meant for men.

The article however concurs with the topic of discussion that gender is biologically based. Nonetheless, the article maintains that gender roles such as performance in mathematics is an issue culture which if emphasized will see the girl child perform well in the subject. By not mentioning that the boy child should also be sensitized by the society to love and perform in maths, the author agrees by the topic of argument that men are born destined for hard tasks such as maths. Hence, this article is relevant to the topic, “Gender roles are biologically based.”

This journal discusses how participation in sports events is affected by gender stereotypes. These two researchers, Hardin and Greer in an attempt to sensitize the society to increase the number of women involvement in sports activities conducted various researches to determine the main reasons why there was not as much the number of women involved in sports such as weight lifting as men. According to this journal, stereotyping as well as cultural constraints were the main reasons behind the disparities in the number of men and women involvement in sports such as weight lifting. In the journal, the authors argue against the assertion that gender roles are biologically based. The argument in the journal intents to ward off the belief as postulated by scientists that women are meant for light duties and that heavy tasks such as weight lifting should be a preserve of the men.

The journal maintains that society should encourage women participation in sports through initiatives such as passing legislations that allow and encourage women participation in sports. The argument in this journal is relevant to the topic of discussion since by arguing that women should be encouraged and socialised to like and participate in sports concurs that men are born liking heavy duties such as weight lifting and unlike their female counterparts, they do not need to be sensitized and socialized since the traits of carrying out heavy duties is inherent.


Men are naturally destined to carry out heavy tasks. In their research to determine the roles of men in the society, Levant and Richmond studied various field such as the military and the fishing sector. In both the roles, they discovered that the number of men involved outnumbered that of their female counterparts. The journal argues that men are destined for hard tasks just as the ones pointed out in the literature reviews such as fishing and the military. Such tasks require use of high levels of energy. As a result, men are employed in this sector since they are biologically destined to perform heavy tasks hence the journal is relevant to the topic of discussion.

Nightingale an environmentalist, in his research studies how gender affects the roles performed by men and women as when as how the same affects the environment under which men and women work. In his argument, Nightingale accepts and appreciates the existence of gender as a biologically based trait. He also accepts that the operations of men and women in the environment are determined by their gender and therefore, the roles performed by the different genders in ensuring the safety of the environment vary. However, he appreciates the role performed by society in shaping the choice by men and women to engage in activities meant to preserve the environment.

To him, society should teach men and women to take up their roles as biologically based to ensure that they engage in activities that will preserve the environment. For instance, he insists that women should be on the front line in cleaning the environment as a way of caring for the environment. This article is therefore relevant to the discussion that; “Gender roles are biologically based and not socially construed.”

O’Neil in his research to determine the various conflicts in the definition of gender and gender roles reviewed 232 empirical studies by various researchers in the area of gender and gender roles. This article discusses the concept of gender roles by first introducing the past conflicts in definitions in this area that has gone on for over the past 25 years. Through the article, various definitions and explanations are given by various scholars with some arguing for the assertion that gender roles are biologically based while others arguing against this assertion. For instance, the article presents the arguments of Sigmund Freud who asserts that gender roles are biologically determined.

Similarly, the arguments of scholars who maintain that gender roles are socially construed are presented in the article by O’Neil. At the end of reviewing the articles, O’Neil maintains that gender roles are both gender based as well as socially construed. He argues that society cannot determine the gender of an individual. However, the same society through its agents of socialization shapes the roles that an individual performs. The article is relevant to the topic of discussion since through its various literature reviews provides definitions and experiments conducted by various scholars to assert that gender roles are biologically based.

Gender roles refer to the norms that shape the behaviour of an individual and make the individual to act in ways that are regarded to be acceptable within the society. Gender roles as a term was first used in 1955 by a scholar, John Money while conducting his studies among individuals who were considered intersex in an attempt to offer a description of the behaviour among people that made them to be viewed as either male or female. Since this time henceforth, there have been widespread debates on whether gender roles are biologically determined or socially construed (Guiso, et al. 2008, pp.1164).


Post 1950s studies by various scholars widely concluded that gender roles are biologically determined. For instance, in 1924, Sigmund Freud, a scholar while at Vienna wrote that the Anatomy of an individual is his/her destiny. In an attempt to argue for and against this debate, various definitions have been offered for the term gender that separates it from the term sex which is a biological factor. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) define gender as a set of behaviours, roles, activities as well as attributes that are socially construed and which are widely viewed as be ideal modes of behaviour among the males and females of that particular society. From this definition of gender by the World Health Organization, it is clear that differentiation in the gender of individuals is based on various characteristics that make men distinct from women in terms of both the social as well as the sexual factors (Gupta, et al. 2009, pp.397-417). This assertion takes us back to the 1924 dictum of Sigmund Freud that the anatomy of an individual is their destiny and hence the argument that gender roles are biologically determined as opposed to the other side of the argument that gender roles are socially construed.

Science through its studies makes it clear that from the time of inception, men and women and distinct and different beings. In his argument in support of the point that men are different from their women counterparts, Amram Scheinfeld (1965), in his book titled, “Heredity and Environment,” argues that the distinction of men from women is constrained in the total number of chromosomes contained by men and women. These chromes according to Scheinfed are responsible for the transfer of inherited traits from the parent of an individual into the individual. According to him, human beings; both men and women possess 23 pairs of chromosomes within each of their body cell. Out of this total number of chromosomes, 22 are similar in both men and women while the 23rd chromosome is different.

In women, the 23rd chromosome is a pair of the X chromosome while in men, the 23rd chromosome consist of the X and Y chromosome. It is argued that the female and the male differences in their biological set up is determined by the twenty third pair of the chromosome (Hardin & Greer, 2009, pp.207). It is through the biological differences that the hormones as well as the brain make up of a human being; both male and female is able to determine the difference in the behaviours of men from women.

In an experiment carried out at the University of Kansas by William Young and Robert Goy (1959), in an attempt to answer the assertion that the manner in which men and women act is shaped by their hormones, genes, their brain as well as the function of their brain, used pigs as the specimen. Young and Goy injected pregnant pigs with large amounts of testosterone hormone. It was observed that on the 90th day, the pregnant pigs changed their female like behaviour and began behaving as male pigs, dominating the other pigs as well as climbing the other female pigs.

Researches conducted to determine the behaviour of men and men observe that the behaviour of both men and women is shaped by their hormones in two different ways. First, that before an individual is born, the hormones in their body form codes in the brains of the individual. Second, that immediately the individual is born onto the world, the hormones in their body activate the codes and makes them alive (Levant & Richmond, 2008, pp.130-146). These codes which shape the anatomy of the human body are responsible for the differences in the feelings among men and women. For instance, due to their biology, women become mothers leading to the generation of the feeling motherhood among the women species. As a result, women are seen to meet the responsibilities of motherhood towards their offspring even in situations where nobody expects them to do so. For instance, the codes in the brain of the woman are activated by hormones to make the women to produce milk to feed her baby hence the woman however young does not need to be taught by society to produce milk for her offspring (Malach-Pines & Kaspi-Baruch, 2008, pp.306-319).


The same codes influence the responsibilities that the female species plays to ensure that her offspring is fine and able to survive. As a result of the roles the woman has to perform towards her baby to ensure that the delicate being survives and grows, women end up being characterised by traits such as delicacy, compassion, innocence, sensitivity, as well as care for other individuals. This is the reason why women are generally inclined to performing the roles they do at home that are meant to provide care, nurse and ensure that the family is in good shape (Meier-Pesti & Penz, 2008, pp.180-196). For instance, women in the family will be seen performing kitchen duties such as cooking for the family as a way to ensure care and compassion to the family members, they will be seen maintaining the cleanliness of the home and the environment since they are naturally sensitive to what goes on around them. At the same time, the codes in men are activated by hormones at various stages of their lives to bringing changes in their anatomy.

The male species grow up to become masculine and strong; features which makes them generally aggressive and want to dominate and subdue. As a result, they end up showing behaviours that are characterized by aggressiveness, intelligence, hard work, independence as well as strength (Nightingale, 2006, pp.165-185). For these reasons, men will always be seen performing hard duties within the home such as cutting grass and lifting loads as their female counterparts engage in duties geared towards the provision of family care. In an attempt to demonstrate the general roles gender roles played within the family by men and women, as experiment was conducted in the Dominican Republic. In the experiment, 38 men who had a genetic disorder were made to begin their lives as girls. They were kept indoors by their families and exposed to playing materials such as dolls that are used by girls. They were also taught the roles played by women in the family such as cleaning, washing among other roles meant for women in the family. While they were doing all these roles, the other boys were engaged in the normal boy routine, running around, shouting and playing harsh games.

At the age of 11, changes started occurring on the bodies of both the girls and the boys. For instance, it was observed that contrary to other girls, the breasts of the 38 boys did not enlarge despite them being exposed to the roles played by girls and not being allowed to mingle with their fellow boys. Instead, they developed male masculine features. For instance, it was observed that their testicles descended while at the same time their voices became thicker. Moreover, the boys began exhibiting sexual desires towards their female counterparts. From this experiment it is quite clear that gender roles are biologically determined. Despite the upbringing of the boys as girls and being exposed to roles played by girls in the society, the genes of the boys revealed the identity of the boys in due course and as a result they ended up being identified as men and not women as previously had been thought (O’Neil, 2013, pp.5). This experiment clearly proves the point that enculturation and the manner of raising a child does not determine their gender roles in the future and at the same time does not stop or change the biology of that particular child.

In an attempt to bring out a deeper understanding of the biological factors that create an individual’s gender as well as the gender roles played by the individual, scientists have studied the brain and the functions performed by the brain to bring out the distinction between women and men as well as the differences in the gender roles performed by them. In an article entitles, “Male and Female: Differences Between Them,” Adams, a researcher, observed that an experiment conducted among twelve weeks old girls observed that they could gaze for a longer period of time at photographers in their faces than they could gaze at geometric figures exposed to them. On the other hand, their male counterparts were observed to pay more attention to geometrical figures as opposed to the faces of photographers. At twelve weeks, the children are yet to be exposed to the socializations and teachings of the society yet they showcase traits that are showcased by elders of similar genders. These traits must therefore be as a result of another factor rather than enculturation. The traits showcased by the twelve week year olds must be shaped by their biological orientation.

The traits portrayed by the infants are the same traits evident in the lives of men and women at an advanced age. For instance, men tend to be more interested and good at mathematics, engineering among other courses that are characterized by figures and which require deep reasoning. On the other hand, their female counterparts are always good at nurturing and social interactions. No wonder professions such as engineering are dominated by men while professions inclined towards social interactions such as law and journalism are dominated by women in today’s world (Raley & Bianchi, 2006, pp.401-421). As much as various campaigns have been conducted to make the world believe that biologically determined gender roles are stereotypes meant to undermine members of a given gender, experiments conducted prove that gender roles are biologically determined. For instance, an experiment conducted by Camilla Benbow and her counterpart Julian Stanley to prove whether it is true that boys love mathematics whereas girls love courses to do with social interactions, it was proved that this is the case. Hence, the structure of the human brain as well as the manner in which it functions differentiates males from their female counterparts as well as the gender roles performed by each gender.


In conclusion, the biology of an individual, their genes, hormones, brain as well as the manner in which the brain of individuals function influences to a great extent the gender of the individual as well as determines the sex of the individual hence shapes the gender roles performed by individual within the social set up. What appear as socially construed traits among individuals is simply an improvement and a perfection on the biologically determined traits and roles. Though cultural interaction plays a role in shaping the gender roles played by individuals within their social set up, they do not determine the roles to be played by the individual.

Enculturation simply acts as a catalyst to the already determined gender roles performed by the individual within the society.  But even in cases where gender roles as determined by the individual’s biology have been changed due to their cultural interactions, the outcome and the results of the role is not as perfect as when the role was performed as biologically set out within the individuals (O’Neil, 2008, pp.358-445). For instance, though women have in the recent past assumed roles meant for their male counterparts such as military while the men have assumed roles meant for women such as cleaning, the end result is not as perfect as when the role was performed as determined by an individual’s biological set up. For instance, women involved in the military do not go on the front line to fight with zeal and courage as their male counterparts. Most of these women though in the military are confined to performing caretaker roles as well as communication duties as their male counterparts go out to the field to fight the enemy. And even when they went to the field, the male counter parts are seen acting the protector role towards the women, warding off any attack on the women and putting their lives on the wire to ensure that the woman is not endangered and is safe to go home.

On the other hand, it is common to see the woman put down the gun to perform caretaker role towards their male counterparts; dressing their wounds and preparing a meal for the man. Hence, gender roles are biologically based and not socially constructed. However, it is essential that as they perform their biologically construed roles, human beings; both male and female in equal measure are respected and supported in the choices they make regardless of the sexual orientation.



Guiso, L., Monte, F., Sapienza, P. and Zingales, L., 2008. Culture, gender, and math. SCIENCE-NEW YORK THEN WASHINGTON-, 320(5880), p.1164.

Gupta, V.K., Turban, D.B., Wasti, S.A. and Sikdar, A., 2009. The role of gender stereotypes in perceptions of entrepreneurs and intentions to become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 33(2), pp.397-417.

Hardin, M. and Greer, J.D., 2009. The influence of gender-role socialization, media use and sports participation on perceptions of gender-appropriate sports. Journal of Sport Behavior, 32(2), p.207.

Levant, R.F. and Richmond, K., 2008. A review of research on masculinity ideologies using the Male Role Norms Inventory. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 15(2), pp.130-146.

Malach-Pines, A. and Kaspi-Baruch, O., 2008. The role of culture and gender in the choice of a career in management. Career Development International, 13(4), pp.306-319.

Meier-Pesti, K. and Penz, E., 2008. Sex or gender? Expanding the sex-based view by introducing masculinity and femininity as predictors of financial risk taking. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(2), pp.180-196.

Nightingale, A., 2006. The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment. Environment and planning D: Society and space, 24(2), pp.165-185.

O'NEIL, J.M., 2013. Gender-Role Conflict and Strain in. Men in transition: Theory and therapy, p.5.

Raley, S. and Bianchi, S., 2006. Sons, daughters, and family processes: Does gender of children matter?. Annu. Rev. Sociol., 32, pp.401-421.

O'Neil, J.M., 2008. Summarizing 25 years of research on men's gender role conflict using the gender role conflict scale new research paradigms and clinical implications. The counseling psychologist, 36(3), pp.358-445.

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