Gender Segregation

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Gender segregation in our society begins at a very young age and plays a major role in all aspects of our lives. The onset of gender segregation begins from when we are toddlers and plays a role in all aspects of our educational years. Even as we enter the workplace, our gender dictates some of our career choices. It sets the standard for salary, job titles, and certain levels of success. Some of the barriers have come down allowing people to cross the terrain of gendered work, but there are many more hurdles to cross. The culmination of biological, sociological, political, and religious factors all seem to play a role in the cause and effect of gender segregation.

In the book, Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children, the authors go on to say, based on research by Eleanor E. Maccoby that kids are more compatible with peers of the same sex. They gravitate to each other from early ages and their bonds strengthen as they get older. Their different behaviors seem to reinforce the segregation process (160). For example; boys will be more physical in their daily activities whether it is in sports or some other type of activity and girls will concentrate more on relationships. Boys play differently than girls and this reinforces the segregation process. They tend to be more rough and tough and girls seem to be gentler in nature. Gender plays a major role in our lives. From early on it influences our ability to establish and maintain friendships as well as relationships. Our gender also dictates what social interactions and activities are permissible within and outside

our gender group. As we age the rules may change but the premise remains the same. Gender lines can be crossed but not in all areas. Some of the rules may change by adolescence, but the changes don’t lead to total equality among the sexes. We all possess innate tendencies that allow us to cross the gender line to establish new relationships while maintaining our specific characteristics. Thompson, Grace, and Cohen make reference to the so called “cootie factor” in saying: “Segregated play increases gender differences, and gender differences reinforce the segregation. Along the way, the other gender is considered not only different but inferior. We might call it the cootie factor” (161). The cootie factor only adds to the reinforcement of gender segregation among children. In studies by Stroufe and Thorne as cited by Strough and Covatto, children set up boundaries during childhood and preadolescence and they themselves enforce those boundaries. Children who cross boundaries are teased and labeled with “cootie” contamination (349). Adolescence is a time of transition in relationships with other-gender peer (Feiring & Lewis, 1991; Laurse, 1996). The quality of other gender peer relationships improves from age 12 to 15 ( Bracken & Crain, 1994). The barriers against other-gender interactions that were normal in preadolescence break down by eight grade and other- gender peers, become important companions (Buhrmester & Gurman, 1986, 1987; Clark, 1994). For many individuals, sexual interest in other-gender peers emerges at puberty (Furman & Wehner, 1994) and romantic relationships become increasingly important

through later adolescence (Connolly, Furman, & Konarski, 2000). Despite increased attraction to other-gender peers, adolescents continue to spend a great deal of time

with same gender peers (Lundy, Field, McBride, Field & Largie, 1998). Same-gender friends are more common than other-gender friends (Maccoby, 1998). Hence, although the magnitude of gender segregation may decrease from preadolescence to later adolescence, same-gender peer relationships still comprise a substantial portion of individuals’ peer networks (Strough & Covatto, 350).

Despite the fact that there is more interaction among the genders during adolescence, the bonds created among the same...
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