Blog #5: Is being masculine or feminine biological or a social construction? 

My inquiry question is; “Is being masculine or feminine biological or a social construction?”

In this fifth and last round of research, I will come to an answer for my inquiry question “Is being masculine or feminine biological or are they social constructions?”  In addition, I will investigate the impacts of gender stereotypes on our lives.  

According to biological determinism, hormones have an impact on human behaviour. This argument must be taken into consideration when addressing my inquiry question because it has been proven to be true and significant in several studies. Like I mentioned in my 3rd blog post, sex hormones like androgens and testosterone define some characteristics of a person’s gender; high levels of androgens create more “female-typical behaviour” (5), while testosterone can “facilitate” aggressive behaviour (6), which is often linked to masculinity. Even though this explains some aspects of gender, it is not enough evidence to prove that gender is only biological (5) 

As a result, it is necessary to consider the process of gender socialization. An example of how socialization plays a role in the development of gender is Dr. Rippon’s study, which I also researched on my third blog post,  on brain differences.  She has proven that the “significant differences” in the brains of adult males and females that create behavioural differences are due to “our gendered world”. Female brains are socialized into femininity, whereas male brains are socialized into masculinity since our brains are malleable and adapt to the environment we live in (1) 

In conclusion, the most probable reason for my question is that gender is a combination of both biological factors and socialization. Although gender is partially socialized, it is not “just a social construct.” Dr. Brenda Todd conducted a study comparing toy preferences in countries with poor gender equality to toy preferences in countries with high rates of gender equality. It showed that their toy preference was similar in most countries investigated; they usually preferred toys that were typically associated with their gender. Boys preferred toys that are traditionally linked with masculinity and girls preferred “playing with girls’ toys.”  However, boys were more likely to play more with traditionally male toys as they grew older. This is due to the “impact” of socialization “rather than biological causes.” This proves that both biology and society play a role in boys’ and girls’ toy preferences (2). 

It is important to understand that proving that biology is partially responsible for gender is not an excuse to reinforce gender stereotypes. Because everyone reacts to socialization and hormone impacts differently, gender development is not binary and differs from person to person. (2) In addition, there is “no evidence” to most harmful gender stereotypes. Stereotypes such as men being better in STEM than women due to sex differences have been proven to be false. However, even if it is “unconscious,” a large percentage of our society still believes in them. (7)

When gender norms are forced into children, a variety of inequities between males and girls are caused. While gender norms have an impact on all children, they have been shown to have a greater harmful impact on girls. Gender norms that are harmful to women’s rights in areas such as “health, education, marriage, and gender-based violence”. (3) 

One of many examples of the harms of gender inequality is the disparity in education. In many parts of the world, girls are discouraged from getting an education and pressured to stay at home to take care of household responsibilities. Their lack of educational opportunities has long-term consequences in their future. When females are denied an education, their potential to make a living and become self-sufficient is “drastically limited.” Without equal access to education and wealth disparity results in a “dependence on men to provide” for them. Girls can be trapped in a cycle of poverty and forced to do unpaid domestic labour (3).  

The disparity between women and men studying STEM areas is another example of gender stereotypes in education. In schools in the United Kingdom, “four times as many boys as girls take physics” (7). Similarly, women make up only 19 percent of engineering students in Canada and men “{enroll} in post-secondary STEM programs” after high school in greater numbers than women do (4). As I mentioned. the explanation for it is not biology, but rather “unconscious biases” (7) caused by years and years of gender inequity in our society.

Sofia B.  

Reference list:  

  1. Fox, G. (2019, March 5). Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain. The Guardian.
  2. Goldhill, O. (2018, January 28). Gender is not just a social construct, according to scientific research. Quartz. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from
  3. How Harmful Gender Norms Create an Unequal World for Children. (n.d.). Save the Children. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from
  4. Lipski, C. (2019, May 31). Why Aren’t More Women Studying STEM in Canada? Vancouver Magazine.
  5. Miller, C. F. (2016). Gender Development, Theories of. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, 1–6.
  6. Mims, C. (2007, July 5). Strange but True: Testosterone Alone Does Not Cause Violence. Scientific American.
  7. Reporter, G. S. (2018, March 2). Gender stereotypes are still pervasive in our culture. The Guardian.

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