Show Menu

AQA Gender Cheat Sheet by

AQA GENDER for a level exam board

Sex and Gender

-Sex refers to a persons biological status as either male or female. Determind by a pair of sex chromo­­somes XX or XY.
-Gender refers to a persons psycho­­social status as either masculine or feminine. This is heavily influenced by social norms.
-Gender Dysphoria is when their biolog­­ically prescribed sex does not reflect the way they feel inside
-Ingal­h­a­likar et al 2014- scanned brains of 949 women and men and found that women's brains have far better connec­­tions between left and right sides of the brain, while mens brains display more intense activity within the brains individual parts.
-Imper­a­t­o-­­McG­­inley et al 1974- studied a family where the girls were born as girls but once they hit puberty they changed into males. They were affected by a genetic disorder. The now boys abandoned their female gender identity with very few problems. This suggests that gender identity may be flexible not fixed.
-Is it as simple as male or female? Some children have hormonal imbalances where their genitals appear neither male or female. They are known as intersex. In 2013, Germany introduced the third gender X
Explain what is meant by sex role stereo­types 3M
Explain what is the difference between sex and gender 4M
Outline what psycho­logical research has shown about sex role stereo­typ­es.4M

Atypical Sex Chromosome Patterns

-Kline­felters syndrome is an example of an atypical sex chromosome pattern. It affects about 1 in 600 males and those affected have an additional X chromo­some.
-One effect of KS has reduced body hair with some breast develo­pment in puberty. People may have problems with coordi­nation or clumsi­ness.
- KS is linked to poorly developed language skills and reading ability. Tend to be passive and shy and lack interest in sexual activity
- Turners syndrome is caused by the absence of the two X chromo­somes in females. It is referred to as XO.
-Those with TS do not have a menstrual cycle and are sterile. They do not develop breasts and have a webbed neck.
-Feature of TS is higher reading ability. Perfor­mance on memory and maths tasks are lower then normal. Tend to be socially immature.
-One strength is its contri­bution to the nature­-nu­rture debate. Able to see differ­ences between two groups and that these differ­ences have a biological basis.
-However, the relati­onship between chromosome abnorm­alities associated with KS and TS and the differ­ences in these behaviours are not causal. Social factors may be important. Social immaturity seen in females with TS could be due to them being treated immatu­rely.
-Another strength is its applic­ation to managing the condit­ions. Continued research in this area is more likely to lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Herlihy et al 2011- those who had be identified with KS at an early age ten to have better outcomes.
- One issue with KS is the sampling. Only those with extreme charac­ter­istics are placed in the database which could skew the results. Boada et al 2009- have produced a more accurate image where those with KS do not experience cognitive or psycho­logical problems.
Identify two physical effects of KS 2M
Explain one problem of studying people with atypical sex chromo­somes 4M
Discuss atypical sex chromosome patterns and what they tell us about gender develo­pments 16M

Cognitive Explan­ation; Gender Schema Theory

-Martin and Halver­son's (1981) cognitive develo­pmental theory argues that children's unders­tanding of gender changes with age. Shares the view with Kohlberg that children develop their unders­tanding by actively struct­uring their own learning.
-Schema are mental constructs which develop with experience and are used to organise knowledge.
-Once a child has establ­ished gender identity around the ages of 2/3 they will search their enviro­nment for inform­ation which fits their gender schema.
- Gender schema expands to include a wide range of behaviours and person­ality traits. Schemas are likely to be formed around stereo­types. By age 6, children have a fixed and stereo­typical idea about gender.
-Children tend to have a better unders­tanding of the schema that is relevant to their own gender. Pay more attention to their own gender identity. When aged 8, children develop elaborate schemas for both genders.
-One strength is that it is supported by evidence. Martin and Halverson 1983 found that children under age 6 were more likely to remember photos of gender­-ap­pro­priate behaviour when tested.
-One limitation is that gender identity probably develops earlier than suggested. Zosuls et al 2009 looked at the onset of gender identity in a longit­udinal study. Gender identity occurred at around 19 months.
-However, Martin and Halverson suggest that we shouldn't focus on specific ages as the ages they used were averages. We should instead focus on the sequence of events.
- Another strength is that it can account for cultural differ­ences. Cherry 2019 suggests that gender schemas also include culturally approp­riate gender behavi­ours.
Explain what is meant by gender schema 3M
Explain the differ­ences between gender schema and Kohlberg theory of gender develo­pment 6M
Evaluate gender schema theory 10M
Discuss gender schema theory 16M

Atypical Gender Develo­pment

-Gender dysphoria has a basis in brain structure- the BST. This structure is involved in emotional response and also in male sexual behaviour in rats. Kruijver et al 2000, found that the area is larger in men and is found to be female­-sized in transg­ender females.
- Coolidge 2002 assessed twin pairs for evidence of gender dysphoria. Found 62% of the variance could be accounted for by genetic factors
-Social constr­uction perspe­ctive argues that gender identity does not reflect underlying biological differ­ences between people and instead these concepts are invented by societies. Gender dysphoria is a social condition when people are required to choose one of two particular paths
-Ovesey and Person 1973- social relati­onships within the family cause gender dysphoria. GD in males is caused by boys experi­encing extreme separation anxiety before gender identity has been establ­ished.
-Brain sex theory has been challe­nged. Pol et al 2006 used MRI scans on transg­ender indivi­duals and found that the size of the BST changed over a period of time. BST may be affected by hormone therapy
-Other brain differ­ences associated with gender dysphoria. Rametti et al 2011 studied another sexually dimorphic aspect of the brain. There are regional differ­ences in white matter in males and females. White matter corres­ponded more closely to the gender that the indivi­duals identified with.
-Strength of social constr­uct­ionism is that not all cultures have two genders. Some cultures recognise more than two genders with many people now describing themselves as non-bi­nary.
- Issues with Ovesey and Person 1973 explan­ation. This can only be applied to transg­ender females and not biological females.
Explain what is meant by gender dysphoria 2M
Outline one biological explan­ation for gender dysphoria 4M
Evaluate one social explan­ation for gender dysphoria 4M
Discuss biological and/or social explan­ations for gender dysphoria 16M


- Androgyny refers to a person­ality type that is charac­terised by a mixtur­e/b­alance of masculine and feminine traits.
-Bem developed a method for measuring androgyny and suggested that high androgyny is associated with psycho­logical well being.
- Bem 1974 (Bem Sex Role Inventory) presents a 20 charac­ter­istic scale with statments which would be identified as masculine and 20 that would be judged as feminine. 20 statements of neutral traits were also used.
- High M, Low F (Mascu­line), High F, Low M (Femin­ine), High M, High F (Andro­gyn­ous), Low M, Low F (Undif­fer­ent­iated)
- A strenght of Bems work is that it is measured quanti­tat­ively. However, Spence 1984 argues that there is more to gender identity then a set of typical behaviours of one gender.
- Another strength is that is appears to be a valid and reliable way of measuring androgyny. The scale was developed with judges and had test retest reliab­ility. However, it was developed over 40 years ago and ideas surrou­nding gender has changed since then. It does not have temporal validity.
- It lacks genera­lis­ability as it was used on those in the United States and has western notions of gender included in it. This may not be shared across all cultures.
Extra AO3
-Bem suggested that being androg­ynous was beneficial but Adams and Sherer 1985 suggest that having more masculine traits are better as these are more accepted in Western Culture.
Define androgyny 3M
Outline one way of measuring androgyny 4M
Explain two criticisms of the Bem Sex Role Inventory 6M
Discuss the Bem Sex Role Inventory 16M

Cognitive Explan­ation; Kohlberg Theory

-Kohlb­erg's (1966) cognitive develo­pmental theory of gender is based on the idea that a child's unders­tanding of gender becomes more sophis­ticated with age. This comes as a biological matura­tion.
-Stage 1 (Gender Identity)- Around 2, children can identify themselves as a girl or boy. This is gender identity. At age 3, children can identify others as male or female. Unders­tanding gender is based on labels.
-Stage 2 (Gender Stabil­ity)- At age 4, children acquire gender stability. This comes with the unders­tanding that they will stay the same gender. They are often confused by external changes in appearance such as a man with long hair.
-Stage 3 (Gender Consta­ncy)- At age 6. children recognise that gender remains constant across time and situations and this is applied to others. No longer fooled by external appear­ance. Children will begin to seek out approp­riate role models.
- Evidence does suggest that gender stereo­typing does emerge around age 6. Damon 1977 told a story about George who played with dolls. The 6-year­-olds thought it was wrong for George to be playing with dolls.
-However, other research challenged the idea that it happens before age 6. Bussey and Bandura 1999 found that children aged 4 reported feeling good about playing with gender­-ap­pro­priate toys.
-One limitation of the theory is supporting research relies on unsati­sfa­ctory methods to assess gender constancy. Bem 1989 criticised the method­ology used in the studies. The best way to measure gender constancy is by showing physical differ­ences. However, most studies focus on appearance and context.
- There may be different degrees of gender constancy. Martin et al 2002 suggest that an initial degree of gender constancy is unders­tanding the importance of gender, and the second degree relates to children's respon­siv­eness to gender norms.
-Could be considered to be part of the nature approach ad Munroe et al 1984 found that cognitive changes were universal and therefore biolog­ical.
Explain what is meant by gender constancy 3M
Explain the difference between gender stability and gender constancy 4M
Explain one limitation of Kohlberg's theory 3M
Outline and evaluate Kohlberg's theory of gender develo­pment 16M

Social Learning Theory

-Social learning theory suggests that behaviour is learned from observing others and draws attention to the influence of the enviro­nment in shaping gender develo­pment.
-Direct reinfo­rce­ment- children are likely to be reinforced for demons­trating behaviour that is gender approp­riate. Boys and girls are encouraged to show distinct gender­-ap­pro­priate behaviours is called differ­ential reinfo­rce­ment.
-Indirect reinfo­rce­ment- if the conseq­uences of a person's behaviour is favour­able, that behaviour is more likely to be imitated by a child. If conseq­uences are unfavo­urable, then the behaviour is less likely to be imitated.
- Identi­fic­ation refers to the process whereby a child attaches themselves to a person who is seen to be like me. These are known as role models.
-Modelling is a precise demons­tration of behaviour that may be imitated by an observer.
-Social learning theory suggests 4 mediat­ional processes that are central to learning gender:
-----A­tte­ntion; pays attention to what a role model does
-----R­ete­ntion; rememb­ering what behaviour was done and trying to reproduce it
-----M­oti­vation; the desire to repeat the behaviour
-----Motor reprod­uction; must be physically capable of doing the action,
-Key principles are supported by evidence. Smith and Lloyd 1978- babies were dressed as girls half the time and boys the other half. Babies assumed to be a boy picked up hammers and babies assumed to be girls picked up a doll.
-However, differ­ential reinfo­rcement may not be the cause of gender differ­ences. Adults may be responding to innate gender differ­ences that are already there. Boys may be more active due to hormonal differ­ences.
- Can explain cultural changes in gender­-ap­pro­priate behaviour. The shift in attitudes means that new forms of gender behaviour are unlikely to be punished and may be reinfo­rced.
- Does not provide an adequate explan­ation of how learning processes change with age. They suggest that modelling can occur at any age. However, its illogical to say that 2-year­-olds learn the same way as 9-year­-olds.
Briefly explain social learning theory in regards to gender 3M
Explain one difference between social learning theory to gender and gender schema theory 2M
Explain one limitation of social learning theory as applied to gender develo­pment 6M
Outline and Evaluate the social learning theory of gender develo­pment 16M

Role of Chromo­somes and Hormones

- Chromo­somes are made from DNA. There are 23 pairs of chromo­somes. Females is XX and males are XY.
-Gender develo­pment comes about through the influence of hormones. Hormones act upon brain develo­pment and the develo­pment of reprod­uctive organs. Males and females produce many of the same hormones but in different concen­tra­tions.
-Testo­sterone is a male hormone and controls the develo­pment of sex organs. High levels of testos­terone are also linked to aggres­sion.
-Oestrogen is the female hormone and causes some women to experience heightened emotions and irrita­bility during the menstrual cycle.
-Oxytocin is more common in females than in men and is highly present when giving birth. The hormone helps with breast­feeding and is also known as the love hormone.
- Evidence supports the role of sex hormones in gender develo­pment. Wang et al 2000 found that testos­terone replac­ements improved sexual function, libido and mood. This shows that testos­terone has a direct effect on males develo­pment
- However, other evidence of testos­terone s less convin­cing. Daryl O Connor et al 2004 found that with increased testos­terone in males there were no signif­icant increases in sexual behaviour.
-Chrom­osomes and hormones ignore the social factors. Hofstede et al 2010 claim that gender roles around the world are more of a conseq­uence of society than biology. Indivi­dualist countries are more masculine in their outlook.
-Another issue is that this explan­ation is reduct­ionist. The cognitive approach would draw attention to schemas and thought processes.
Outline the role of testos­terone and oxytocin in gender develo­pment 4M
Outline the role of hormones in sex and gender 4M
Discuss the role of chromones and hormones in sex and gender 16M

Psycho­dynamic Theory

-Freud sees children pass through 5 biolog­ically driven psycho­sexual stages that begin with the oral stage and ends with the genital stage. The third stage- the phallic stage- is when gender develo­pment occurs between ages 3 and 6. Prior to this stage, children have no concept of gender.
-Oedipus complex- boys develop feelings toward their mothers. Have jealousy and hatred for their father who stands in the way. The boy recognises the father is more powerful and fears lead to castration anxiety. Due to this, the boy gives up his love for his mother and identifies with his father.
-Electra complex- girls experience penis envy, seeing their mother as compet­ition for their father's love. Girls have double resentment towards the mother- one for being in the way of the father, and the other for blaming them for not having a penis. Over time, girls accept that they won't have a penis and then start to identify with their mothers.
- Identi­fic­ation is when the sexes identify with their same-sex parent.
- Intern­ali­sation is when the children take on board the gender identity of the same-sex parent.
- Used Little Hans as evidence. Little Hans had a fear of being bitten by a horse, Freud interp­reted this as a fear of castra­tion.
-There is some support for the Oedipus complex in gender develo­pment. Rekers and Morey 1990 rated the gender identity of boys in interv­iews. Of those judged to be gender disturbed, 75% had neither their biological father nor a substitute father living with them.
-However, others say that the relati­onship between absent fathers and problems of gender identity is not supported. Bos and Sandfort 2010 found that children raised by lesbian parents felt less pressure to conform to gender stereo­types and were less likely to assume their own gender was superior.
-Inade­quate account of female develo­pment. Horney 1942 suggests that penis envy was a result of cultural rather than biological factors. Freud's theory is androc­entric as it has been criticised as reflecting the male-c­entred Victorian era.
-Lacks scientific credib­ility. Many concepts are largely uncons­cious so are hard to study. Popper 1959 suggests that the theory is pseudo­sci­entific as his key ideas can not be falsified.
Outline the difference between identi­fic­ation and intern­ali­sation 4M
Explain the Oedipus complex 4M
Evaluate the Oedipus complex 6M
Discuss the psycho­dynamic theory of gender develo­pment 16M

Culture and Media

-Cross­-cu­ltural research is valuable to the nature­-nu­rture debate. If gender role behaviour is consistent across cultures this could support the nature debate. If behaviours are culturally specific then this supports the nurture debate.
-Mead 1935- found that the Tchambuli women were dominant, which suggests that gender roles may be culturally determ­ined.
-Buss 1995 found consistent patterns in mate preference where women sought men who could offer wealth and resources.
-Media provides role models for children with who they can identify and imitate.
-The media provides clear gender stereo­types with Bussey and Bandura 1999 finding that men were identified as ambitious, and indepe­ndent and women as dependent and advice seekers.
-The media gives inform­ation in terms of likely success at adopting these behavi­ours. Mitra et al 2019 found that girls who watched a detective drama were more likely to see themselves as capable of working outside the home.
-Influence of culture is supported by evidence. Hofstede 2001 argues that indust­ria­lised cultures have changed the status of women which has increased their role in the workplace.
-Meads's research has been critic­ised. Been accused of making genera­lis­ations based on a short period of study. There is observer bias and ethnoc­ent­rism.
-Media influence has its theore­tical basis. Cultiv­ation theory argues that the more one spends time watching television the more they are likely to believe it reflects reality.
-Gender roles and media may not have a causal relati­onship. Durkin 1985 suggests that young children are not passive and uncritical of the media.
Outline how culture may influence gender roles 4M
Explain the influence of the media on gender roles 4M
Evaluate the influence of the media on gender roles 10M
Discuss theories and research into the influecne of culture and/or media on gender roles 16M


No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          A-Level Physics Key Terms Cheat Sheet
          Bio Topic 1: Cell Biology Cheat Sheet