Becoming Gendered

Theories of Gendering Processes in Early Life

Authored by: Julia T. Wood

Handbook of Family Theories

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415879453
eBook ISBN: 9780203075180
Adobe ISBN: 9781135118754


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A baby is born. In most cases, it conforms physically to one of two recognized sex categories in Western cultures: female or male. But what will the baby's gender be and how will the child develop that gender? This chapter focuses on how individuals learn gender or how they become gendered beings. The first section of the paper distinguishes between sex and gender. The second section reviews key findings related to sex-linked behavior, with emphasis on demonstrated differences between women and men's social behavior. The third section of the chapter presents four theories that shed light on how individuals learn gender in the early years with emphasis on learning within families. The final section of the chapter identifies limitations of the theories covered in this chapter and offers suggestions for theoretical advances

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