It is not uncommon to hear people say that men are no different from women while others say there exist great difference between the two primary sexes and gender.
And years back, psychologists Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacklin (1974) concluded that males have better maths and visuospatial skills than females, whereas females have better verbal abilities than males. Were they right or wrong? We shall examine the objective qualities and characteristic of the sexes:
Physical differences and similarities
A lot could be stated as the physical differences between the average man and woman. For example, men grow 10 percentages taller than females. The physiological reason for this disparity is because androgens (male hormones) play a role in the growth of long bones while oestrogens (hormones of the female) stop such growth at puberty. At earlier stage of development, especially during the onset of puberty and adolescence, females grow taller than their male counterparts, but due to the secretion of oestrogens from puberty stage, these female hormones hinder rapid growth of bones in females.
Another physical difference is that females weigh twice the fat of men- fats are most concentrated around the breasts and hips, while in men, fat is most concentrated in the abdomen area.
The most palpable physical differences between male and female is in health and physical well-being. On average, females live longer than males and males are more prone to diseases and sickness than women. Males are prone to mental disorders than their male counterparts. Due to their more elastic blood vessels, women are more resistant to infections than men. Males have higher levels of stress hormones than females. Women engage in less unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles than men which could also be a primary factor why they live longer than men.
Cognitive differences between men and women
When it comes to the physical structure and activity between male and female, the human brain is much alike. Among the difference between the discovered differences are
– The part of the hypothalamus responsible for sexual behaviour tends to be larger in men than women (Swaah & others, 2001)
– The area of the parietal lobe responsible for visuospatial skills tends to be larger in male than females (Frederikse & others, 2000)
– The areas of the brain involved in emotional expression tend to show more metabolic activity in females than males (Gur & others, 1995)
In a nationwide study by the US department of Education (2000), boys did slightly better than girls at maths and science. Overall, though, girls were far superior students, earning better grades and were significantly better than boys in reading. In another recent study in the US, females had higher reading achievements and better writing skills than males in grades 4,5 and 12 with the gap widening as students progressed through school (Coley,2001) Also, females are more likely to pay attention in class and put more effort academically than boys (DeZolf & Hull, 2001).
Socio-emotional differences and similarities
This will be viewed in terms of aggression, communication in relationships and self-regulatory behaviours.
Aggression, which is perhaps, the most significant gender difference between male and female, is that men are more aggressive than women. This difference is observable in cultural extractions and even appears in early childhood development (White, 2001). Boys are more likely to be physically aggressive when provoked than girls. However, girls are more aggressive than boys in other aspects. For example, when it comes to the act of spreading malicious gossip, yelling, snubbing etc., women are more aggressive than men.
When it comes to communication in relationship, women enjoy rapport talk (a type of conversation and way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships), than men. While men engage in report talk (public speaking, joke telling, lecturing, etc.) than women.
When it comes to self-regulatory behaviours, males show less self-restraint and control than women, this account for the reason of physical violence and other acts of aggression like rape that is more likely to be committed by men than women.