biological influences on gender

Topics: Gender, Male, Female Pages: 5 (1459 words) Published: October 14, 2013
Essay plan
Discuss the influence of biology on gender
Definitions:
Sex: the biological fact of being male or female, which is determined by chromosomes. Gender: psychological characteristics of male and female
Genes:
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes
Sex of baby is determined at conception
Males have XY chromosomes
Females have XX chromosomes
First 40 days after conception, embryos develop in the same way and have female and male anatomy If ovum is fertilised by a sperm carrying another X chromosome, the gonads develop into ovaries. The male elements of anatomy disintegrate; the female ones thicken and grow into a womb. The external anatomy develops into female genitalia. If the ovum is fertilised by a sperm carrying a Y chromosome, the gonads cells convert into testes. The male internal organs develop and the female organs disintegrate. External male genitalia develop. All human embryos would develop into females unless they are masculinised by the Y chromosome. Hormones:

After the sex chromosomes, the hormones provide the main biological influences on sexual differentiation. Males and females produce androgens
The male hormone is testosterone
The female hormones are oestrogen and progesterone
Hormone levels can be taken as a measure of masculinisation and feminisation Under/over exposure to hormones during the critical period (6 to 8 weeks) can affect later gender related behaviour; boys exposed to too little testosterone may become less masculine and girls exposed to large amounts of testosterone may be more masculine. Hormones from the gonads influence the development of genitalia, the brain and gender behaviour. By week 8 of gestation, the gonads are producing hormones.

It is hard to establish hormonal influences on behaviour because there are other influences that affect our behaviour such as the nature, nurture debate Brain differences:
Clear differences can be found in the brain function of adult men and women, particularly the function and anatomy of the hypothalamus, these difference however are not found in children under 6 years old Green (1995) states that testosterone may affect other brain structures such as those which influence aggressive behaviour, no direct evidence has been found The degree of lateralisation in male and female brains is another difference. The left hemisphere controls speech and language while the right hemisphere controls spatial skills with information being passed between hemispheres through the corpus coliseum. Shaywitz & Shaywitx (1995) used MRI scans to examine the brain whilst men and women carried out language tasks. Found that women used both hemispheres o the brain whereas men used the left hemisphere studies that support, with evaluation points

There are four sources of evidence to assess the link between biology and gender behaviour; animal studies, case study research, correlating hormone levels and gender behaviour. animal studies:
young (1966) studied rats, a species where male and females show very different sexual behaviours males mount from behind and females adopt the "lordosis" position (back arched, head low) gave doses of male hormones to female rats and vice versa during critical period found that they showed reverse behaviours, males adopted the "lordosis" position and females attempted to mount from behind supports the idea that hormones are responsible for deciding male/female mating behaviour Animal studies evaluation points:

- The issue of the use of animals in research, is it ethical? unethical to......... it is ethically wrong to inflict such pointless suffering upon any living creature. Either animals are so dissimilar to us that we cannot logically apply the results of animal tests to humans, or they are so similar that it is unethical to test upon them - cannot apply to humans and make generalisation because he anatomy of a rat is very different to the anatomy of a human. Cannot assume that humans would show the same results....
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