Gender as a Complex Causal Cascade

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Gender is complex; it changes over time. Figure 1.1 fleshes out this assertion by tracing several tracks of gender development, which proceed in tandem over an individual's life. These tracks include cascades of biological influences, family influences, peer influences, cultural and social influences, and influences originating from the individual's own ongoing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Among the biological and genetic factors listed in Figure 1.1 are genes, prenatal sex hormones and brain organization, ongoing genetic and hormonal effects across the life span, hormonal and physical changes of puberty, and the biological processes of childbirth and parenthood. Family influences include parental socialization, sibling influences, and gender roles and stereotypes transmitted by families (Wallien, 2008). Peer influences include the effects of classmates, friends, and coworkers. Broader social and cultural factors include teacher attitudes and influences, mass media effects, the structure of educational and work settings, and the influences of government, political, and social organizations. All these myriad influences come together to mold the behavior of individual males and females, to produce the phenomenon we term gender. The complexity of gender has implications both for theories of gender and for public policies that relate to gender. This final chapter will explore the future of gender research, and it will examine how the nature-nurture debate relates to
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