Nature or Nurture?

I am the mother of two children, one girl and one boy. I don’t think I parented them differently (my daughter had a train set and my son a doll!) but  intellectually I know I must have done.

All the research indicates that we respond differently to a child depending on its gender – and that’s got to have an effect on how we behave in later life!

Pink or Blue?

In the sixties an interesting experiment took place which wouldn’t happen now! A baby was left outside a shop in a pram (imagine doing that now!). When the baby was dressed in pink passersby cooed, oohed and ahhed into the pram, speaking in gentle, soft tones.

When the same baby was dressed in blue passersby spoke in harder tones, along the lines of, ‘what a big strong boy you are’ and were less gentle.

Research study after study has shown that we tend to reinforce tough aggressive behaviour from boys and downplay it in girl children. Children are rewarded by family and society at large for behaving stereotypically and maintaining traditional gender roles.

Martians? Pah!

Popular books about gender differences are best sellers but normally don’t stand up to any academic scrutiny. They perpetuate the stereotyping and usually cast women in submissive roles (Women stayed at home looking after kids and gathering berries so learned to multi-task. Men went out hunting so learned only to do one thing at a time’. Give me strength!)

Honestly, most of it is tosh. For every piece of pseudo research reinforcing the stereotypes you can find a genuine piece which will counteract it. And vice versa

Differences

Nature, nurture, who knows? As with most things good communication is key. Men and women do communicate and behave differently, for whatever reason, and the best advice I can give is try and make sure you understand what the other person is saying, what they actually mean. Challenge stereotyping in the workplace and try to be as gender neutral at work as you can.

And my two, (pictured above)? Well, totally unbiasedly, I have to say they are just perfect as they are!

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Posted on February 15th, 2010 by

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