What is gender and what are the factors that decide the definition of gender?

 What is gender and what are the factors that decide the definition of gender?



The socially constructed qualities of men, women, girls, and boys are referred to as gender. This covers interpersonal connections as well as the standards, mannerisms, and roles that come with being a woman, man, girl, or boy. Gender is a social concept that differs from culture to culture and can evolve over time.

Due to the hierarchy of gender, additional social and economic inequities are exacerbated. The intersection between gender-based discrimination and other forms of prejudice includes, but is not limited to, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, place of residence, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The term “intersectionality” explains this.

Understanding these gender relations and the power dynamics that underlie them is necessary in order to comprehend how people acquire and distribute resources, how they are able to make decisions, and how politics and social development affect men and women, boys and girls.

Women have less power over economic and political resources, such as land, jobs, and traditional positions of leadership, than do men. Therefore, it is crucial to recognise and take into account these gender discrepancies in programmes and assessments in order to maximise impact and socioeconomic development while also protecting human rights.

Sex, which describes the various biological and physiological traits of females, males, and intersex people, such as chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs, is related to but distinct from gender. Gender identity is connected to, but distinct from, gender, as is sex. A person’s deeply held, internal, and unique experience of gender is referred to as gender identity. This experience may or may not line up with the person’s physiology or the sex they were assigned at birth.

Factors that decide the definition of gender

The development of gender attitudes in young adolescents is largely influenced by interpersonal factors (family and peers), and the processes of gender socialisation for boys and girls are different. Although there is some evidence that schools may foster stereotyped gender attitudes among young adolescents, the effect of community elements (such as the media) is less obvious. Young adolescents in various cultural contexts frequently embrace standards that uphold gender inequality, and classmates and parents play a particularly important role in influencing such attitudes.

Social norms

Some societies have more stringent gender roles than others. Roles and preconceptions can, however, change throughout time and are not always fixed in stone. Negative gender norms, particularly those connected to rigid ideas of masculinity, can also have a negative impact on boys' and men's health and welfare. For instance, certain ideas about masculinity may push boys and men to smoke, engage in risky sexual behaviour and other health hazards, abuse alcohol, and refuse medical attention. These gender norms also encourage boys and men to use violence against others and to experience it themselves. Additionally, they may have detrimental effects on their mental health.

People with different gender identities are also badly impacted by rigid gender standards since they frequently experience violence, stigma, and discrimination as a result, including in hospital settings. They thus have an increased risk of contracting HIV and developing mental health issues, such as suicide.

The definition of gender identity is a person’s conception of themselves as either male or female (or rarely, both or neither). Gender roles, which are characterised as the outward displays of personality that reflect gender identity, are closely tied to this idea. Gender identity is almost always self-identified as a result of a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic or environmental elements; in contrast, gender roles are socially enforced through observable characteristics like behaviour and appearance. For instance, if a person considers himself to be a man and prefers to speak to his personal gender in terms of masculinity, then he or she has a male gender identity. The only time he assumes a stereotypically male behaviour, appearance, or mannerism is when he does so.

Hormonal factors

Children’s physical development is greatly influenced by biological variables. For example, secondary sexual characteristics that appear during puberty further distinguish boys and girls from one another. Boys and girls also have different sexual organs at birth. According to research, sex hormones have a significant role in determining gender identity in addition to enabling sexual organ development in utero and triggering puberty later. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a birth defect that results in much higher amounts of androgens than in unaffected peers, affects some boys and girls. In attempt to comprehend how children with CAH’s elevated levels of androgen affect behaviour, researchers have studied these children. Boys with extra androgens act, play, and interact like other boys their age. However, compared to their friends who are the same age and hormonally normal, girls with high androgen levels exhibit more gender-stereotypical masculine traits and behaviours. Furthermore, girls with CAH are born with external genitalia that resemble those of men.

Social and environmental factors

Children’s social settings and upbringing have an impact on how they form their gender identities. This research can be summed up by saying that parental and authority figure lessons about sexual stereotypes that take place in or before the early part of middle childhood have a significant impact on children’s interests, preferences, behaviours, and general self-concept. Children who are told that because they are a boy or a girl, certain characteristics or behaviours are acceptable or unacceptable for them to exhibit have a tendency to internalise and be impacted by these teachings in the future. Girls may report disliking arithmetic and denying their interest in the topic if they are told that boys are naturally better at it than they are. They can continue to struggle on arithmetic tests and homework since they think they aren’t very proficient at this academic subject.

Through observation and imitation of what they perceive their primary caregivers doing, children learn indirectly in some cases. They frequently copy and internalise what they observe, then replicate those patterns in their own lives as if they had thought of it on their own. In comparison to classmates whose parents provided less stereotypical, more androgynous patterns of behaviour, children raised watching their parents adhere to rigid gender-stereotypical roles are generally more likely to take on those roles themselves as adults.


The idea that a person is either a male or a woman based on their physical attributes has been reinforced by numerous communities for ages. This notion incorrectly conflates sex with gender. Gender and sex are distinct concepts. In general, gender includes a person’s identities, expressions, and social duties while sex refers to a person’s physical traits at birth. A person may identify with no gender at all or with a gender other than their biological sex. Although nonbinary is a phrase that refers to a wide range of identities, it is frequently used to describe the latter identity.

It is crucial to consider gender issues while developing and implementing population and development programmes for two reasons. First, there are distinctions between the roles that men and women play that call for alternative strategies. The systematic disparity between men and women is the second issue. There are glaring patterns of women having less access to opportunities and resources globally. Women are also consistently underrepresented in decision-making processes that influence their societies and their personal lives. Any society’s ability to advance is hampered by this pattern of inequality since it restricts the opportunities available to half of its population.

People’s mental health may suffer since not everyone embraces those who identify in a variety of ways with gender. People can, however, go to a variety of organisations for assistance. Everyone deserves to be loved, supported, and taken care of regardless of their gender.







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