Gender Differences in Adolescent Self-Esteem

2538 Words Apr 2nd, 2009 11 Pages
Gender Differences in Adolescent Self-Esteem
Tiffany Grooms
Arcadia University
Self-esteem among children and adolescents is a persistent topic discussed in both professional and popular arenas. In fact, gender differences in self-esteem during the teenage years are widely featured in popular stereotypes, and for some time, accepted without actual support from empirical evidence. The ambiguousness of such an extensively talked about topic leads to an unclear picture of how adolescents view themselves. The most common stereotype is that boys have higher self-esteem then girls (Wilgenbusch & Merrell, 1999). Girls are seen as weak and insecure; easily swayed by the mass media as well as their peers. But is this accurate? There have been
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Seeman (1995) discusses gender role as “a social constructed concept referring to the expectations, attitudes, and behaviors that are considered to be appropriate for each gender in that particular society,” (p.4-5). It is also important to note the differences between gender and sex. Sex refers to the biological makeup of a person as either being reproductively male or reproductively female. Gender, however, refers to the social and psychological aspects of sex. Gender role is the manifestation of the social stereotypes associated with both sexes. Adolescents begin to experience an increase in social feedback about appearing and behaving in gender appropriate ways. Gender Identity comes about when children internalize social standards and expected psychological attributes; mainly masculinity and femininity (Willis & Reid, 1999). There is an abundance of literature in the area of self-esteem and adolescence, but the views and interpretations of data on gender differences are varied among scholars. Some conclude the stereotypes are accurate, with girl’s having lower self-esteem (Bowker, 2006; Impett, Sorsoli, Schooler, Henson, & Tolman, 2008; Ponsoda, Abad, Francis, & Hills, 2008). On the other hand, a number of researchers believe that the differences are merely domain specific, meaning that it depends on which facet of self-esteem one is measuring (Bolognini,
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