Male & Female: More Alike than Different


In 2007, I met Luke, the man I would marry, and began my first deeply close relationship with a male peer. Our personalities could not be more different. Luke is naturally laid-back and “go with the flow.” I am intense, passionate, and tend to go against the grain.

Luke is sort of interested in almost everything, and I am hyper interested in just a few things. Luke enjoys small talk for hours; I enjoy deep talk for hours. Luke is a “jokester” and I am more serious. Luke likes to serve and I like to lead. Luke hates confrontation and I don’t normally mind it.

We even look completely different. Luke has light hair, blue eyes, and fair skin; while I have dark hair, brown eyes, and olive skin. Who knows what our future kids will look like! Further, we are from opposite sides of the United States. Luke grew up in Northern California and I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. I am a meat and potato type of gal and Luke is a fish and avocado type of guy.

The point is, my husband and I could not be more different; yet, even with all of our differences, I have discovered two things that I did not know, about men and women, prior to marriage.

  1. Most of our differences have nothing to do with our genders.
  2. Our likeness is much more measurable & provable than our differences. 

Now, there are some ways in which Luke and I fall into typical gender stereotypes. For example, I cry a lot more than Luke does, which undoubtedly has to do with hormonal differences. However, there are many ways that we both defy gender stereotypes.

Luke tends to enjoy homemaking and crafts more than I do. He is much more likely to buy and water plants or make a meal from scratch. Luke also enjoys chatting after a long day at work, and I tend to need time to zone out. It seems pretty clear that specific gender attributes are simply unrealistic in our home, so we don’t buy into them no matter how intense the social or religious pressure is.

There is no doubt that Luke and I are opposites in many ways, but our humanity makes us more alike than different. Firstly, our bodies are almost exactly alike, except one thing, of course. Why wouldn’t they be?

Though woman was made in the image of God, she was made out of the material of man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” -Genesis 2:23

There is some serious theological speculation that female was literally inside of male prior to God creating Eve. In other words, Adam (human) had both sexual organs and represented both male and female before God essentially “split him/her in half.” Some scholars have flat out rejected this view, but the truth is that we were not there, so we can’t be sure either way.

What we can be sure about is that male and female were cut from the same cloth and are more alike than different.

Studies used to show that there were drastic differences between the male and female brain, but more updated research suggests that the male and female brain are not as different as we once thought (Source).

Could it be that Science is catching up with the Bible? Of course the male and female brain are more alike than different; woman was taken out of man. She is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.

I am not saying that men and women are exactly alike. I think it is pretty obvious that we have some general differences, but it is also clear that our sameness is more quantifiable and more biblical. “Gender roles” or specific “gender attributes” are impossible to prove, unless they are physical & tangible, and without tremendous exception.

For example, the moment we claim that women are “nurturers” and men are “providers,” the many exceptions will come along and disprove this theory. My husband is a great provider, but he is also a great nurturer. It is not uncommon for him to hold our 6 pound chihuahua like a teddy bear all night long. Does this make him less “guyish?” Of course not! 

Further, it is often said that men are “protectors,” but I am much more protective than my husband tends to be. Yet, this “protective nature” comes in the package of a 5’2, “girly girl.” 

Men and women who tend to naturally fit stereotypical “gender roles” should not teach that these roles are “God’s way,” or “biblical truth,” because there are many men and women who don’t naturally fit these constructs. While much of the Church frantically attempts to define what a man is and what a woman is, we must resist the temptation to be dishonest.

If there are too many exceptions to the “truth,” we should seriously question the theological research that is being taught to us. 

The Scriptures do not focus on gender differences and neither does God. I believe that the reason for this is because humans tend to respect those whom they see as “like them,” and we thrive best as the Church when we are in unity.

All humans, despite gender, were made in the image of God.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” -Genesis 1:27

There has been a great attempt to dehumanize girls and women throughout world and church history: oppressing them, calling them the weaker and less intelligent sex, degrading and objectifying them, and taking away their authority and power. The Church continues to limit girls and women based on wrong interpretations of the Bible and gender roles that are based in hierarchical control.

A hyper focus on gender differences is never good for girls and women. In fact, history has proven that a hyper focus on differences between any people groups always turns out badly for the group who holds less social power. 

The truth is that both men and women have many of the same basic needs and attributes. My husband and I both need sleep, food, water, shelter, respect, and love. We both laugh and we both cry. We both have a mind, emotions, and breath in our lungs. We both have a spirit and we both need God. As people, we both need companionship and community. 

The Church is not loving women well by limiting our potential. The Church is not loving women well by interpreting the Bible in a way that emphasizes men as the leaders and women as the followers. The Church is not loving women well by focusing on male and female differences, rather than all the things we have in common.

Women and men thrive when all of women’s gifts are recognized and embraced.

How sad would my marriage be if my husband did not value my mind as just as capable as his, or my opinions as just as important as his? How tragic would my life would be if my husband did not see me as the leader and minister that I was born to be?

My husband has enough sense to view me as his equal partner – the same in both value and authority – bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. We make final decisions together, we work through our differences, and we recognize the many ways we are alike and see the image of God in one another. Yes, we are male and female, but above all, we are human – created to rule the earth together. We are like each other, in that we are both like God.

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. THEY WILL REIGN over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” -Genesis 1:26


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  • YES YES YES! This is excellent! My husband and I are similar to you and Luke. Honestly, the biggest “gender differences” I had to get over were gender stereotypes that didn’t apply to us.

  • “What we can be sure about is that male and female were cut from the same cloth and are more alike than different.”

    Yes! It was the sameness that Adam immediately recognized: “Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh.” In other words, she is like me.

  • Back in early elementary school days, I was never very adept at sports nor was I terribly interested in them. But I “knew” boys were supposed to be athletic and enthusiastic about sports. Even though many of the girls in my class were far more skilled athletically than I could ever be.

    Gender bias begins ingraining in young minds at a very early age. It can set up so many people toward low self worth and even failure.

    I overcompensated by becoming aggressively competitive and perfectionistic in academics and music performance, areas where I could excel. Although that has led to success by certain measures, it has also been a source of mental health issues.

    • Amen, Mark. I think that one of the many problems, which I witnessed a lot in grade school, was how certain individuals who don’t easily fit into a preconceived notions about gender often get labeled gay and harassed terribly. It’s awful!

      God bless you for not giving up. I sort of did the same thing: I wasn’t “girlie” and I wasn’t an adorable Tom boy. I pursued academics, especially science and math, and the piano, all of which I had some natural affinity for. It’s where I found my confidence; I didn’t have looks or personality according to my peers and even my parents. Plus, I was a skinny brunette growing up in the 1970s when blondes with California tans and noticeable bust lines were worshipped.

  • Yes, I love this. If we, as the Church and then the world, could focus on us all being human, so much in our world could be healed. This hyperfocus on differences, as you do point out, destroys us on many levels.

  • I find Comps just can’t tolerate the idea that we are all the same except for our reproductive organs. What do they expect since we all produce more of the same…humans? Studies have shown that all human characteristics are distributed among men and women on a bell curve, both “so-called male and female” characteristics are distributed randomly among us all, hence many women have “male” characteristics and vice versa. People who need to ‘simplify’ human nature into male and female roles simply focus on the extremes and ignore the rest of humanity that is neither strongly macho nor hyper feminine. I suspect it is an inability to see gray…only black and white and a need to define everything and control their environment rather than accept the more complex reality.

  • Jory,
    As a minister, for many years I listened to women lament that their husbands weren’t the “leaders” of their home; that these men weren’t “leading” them spiritually… and so they were looking enviously (and in some cases, covetously) at the men they assumed were leading their homes spiritually (usually the pastors.)
    By nature, I was more goal-oriented than my husband, who was also in ministry. And I (from all I’d been taught– and taught myself!) thought that if I were to preach to 10,000 people, then of course he would have to preach to 10,001… and so began my season of “urging” (pressuring) him, in all ways verbal as well as silent) to grow his ministry and seek more opportunities. That was not only against his nature, it didn’t fit in with the depression and woundedness he began experiencing.
    Guess whose marriage had a surprise ending? As in, ending in divorce. There were many other causes, of course, but I know that my belief that “head” somehow translated into “bigger, better leader” was part of it.
    We have to help people reconcile their ideas of “Christian marriage” with the Truths that there is no difference in male and female, that we were both created to rule, and that God didn’t assign us responsibilities according to our gender.
    Thanks for this great post, and for this blog!

    • I’m so sorry that your marriage ended, whatever the reasons. Relationships are difficult in general, and although I never married, I have been privy to other’s issues.

      • Below is a presentation by Eastern College Christian and Gender Scholar psychology professor Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen which talks about how much abundant consistent psychological research studies find few gender differences,and much more overlap similarities between them.

        Trinity 2007

        Opposite Sexes or Neighboring Sexes?
        C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and
        the Psychology of Gender

        Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

        Gender and Modern Social Science

        C. S. Lewis was no fan of the emerging social sciences. He saw practitioners of the social sciences mainly as lackeys of technologically-minded natural scientists, bent on reducing individual freedom and moral accountability to mere epiphenomena of natural processes (See Lewis 1943 and 1970 b). And not surprisingly (given his passion for gender-essentialist archetypes), aside from a qualified appreciation of some aspects of Freudian psychoanalysis (See Lewis 1952 (Book III, Chapter 4) and 1969). “Carl Jung was the only philosopher [sic] of the Viennese school for whose work [Lewis] had much respect” (Sayer 102).

        But the social sciences concerned with the psychology of gender have since shown that Sayers was right, and Lewis and Jung were wrong: women and men are not opposite sexes but neighboring sexes—and very close neighbors indeed. There are, it turns out, virtually no large, consistent sex differences in any psychological traits and behaviors, even when we consider the usual stereotypical suspects: that men are more aggressive, or just, or rational than women, and women are more empathic, verbal, or nurturing than men.

        When differences are found, they are always average—not absolute—differences. And in virtually all cases the small, average—and often decreasing—difference between the sexes is greatly exceeded by the amount of variability on that trait within members of each sex. Most of the “bell curves” for women and men (showing the distribution of a given psychological trait or behavior) overlap almost completely. So it is naïve at best (and deceptive at worst) to make even average—let alone absolute—pronouncements about essential archetypes in either sex when there is much more variability within than between the sexes on all the trait and behavior measures for which we have abundant data.

        This criticism applies as much to C. S. Lewis and Carl Jung as it does to their currently most visible descendent, John Gray, who continues to claim (with no systematic empirical warrant) that men are from Mars and women are from Venus (Gray 1992).

        And what about Lewis’s claims about the overriding masculinity of God? Even the late Carl Henry (a theologian with impeccable credentials as a conservative evangelical) noted a quarter of a century ago that:Masculine and feminine elements are excluded from both the Old Testament and New Testament doctrine of deity. The God of the Bible is a sexless God. When Scripture speaks of God as “he” the pronoun is primarily personal (generic) rather than masculine (specific); it emphasizes God’s personal nature—and, in turn, that of the Father, Son and Spirit as Trinitarian distinctions in contrast to impersonal entities… Biblical religion is quite uninterested in any discussion of God’s masculinity or femininity… Scripture does not depict God either as ontologically masculine or feminine. (Henry 1982, 159–60)

        However well-intentioned, attempts to read a kind of mystical gendering into God—whether stereotypically masculine, feminine, or both—reflect not so much careful biblical theology as “the long arm of Paganism” (Martin 11). For it is pagan worldviews, the Jewish commentator Nahum Sarna reminds us, that are “unable to conceive of any primal creative force other than in terms of sex… [In Paganism] the sex element existed before the cosmos came into being and all the gods themselves were creatures of sex. On the other hand, the Creator in Genesis is uniquely without any female counterpart, and the very association of sex with God is utterly alien to the religion of the Bible” (Sarna 76).

        And if the God of creation does not privilege maleness or stereotypical masculinity, neither did the Lord of redemption. Sayers’s response to the cultural assumption that women were human-not-quite-human has become rightly famous:Perhaps it is no wonder that women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for beingfemale; who had no axe to grind or no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is not act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel which borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about women’s nature. (Sayers 1975, 46)

        It is quite likely that Lewis’s changing views on gender owed something to the intellectual and Christian ties that he forged with Dorothy L. Sayers. And indeed, in 1955—two years before her death, Lewis confessed to Sayers that he had only “dimly realised that the old-fashioned way… of talking to all young women was v[ery] like an adult way of talking to young boys. It explains,” he wrote, “not only why some women grew up vapid, but also why others grew up (if we may coin the word) viricidal [i.e., wanting to kill men]” (Lewis 2007, 676; Lewis’s emphasis). The Lewis who in his younger years so adamantly had defended the doctrine of gender essentialism was beginning to acknowledge the extent to which gendered behavior is socially conditioned. In another letter that same year, he expressed a concern to Sayers that some of the first illustrations for the Narnia Chronicles were a bit too effeminate. “I don’t like either the ultra feminine or the ultra masculine,” he added. “I prefer people” (Lewis 2007, 639; Lewis’s emphasis).

        Dorothy Sayers surely must have rejoiced to read this declaration. Many of Lewis’s later readers, including myself, wish that his shift on this issue had occurred earlier and found its way into his better-selling apologetic works and his novels for children and adults. But better late than never. And it would be better still if those who keep trying to turn C. S. Lewis into an icon for traditionalist views on gender essentialism and gender hierarchy would stop mining his earlier works for isolated proof-texts and instead read what he wrote at every stage of his life.

        Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen is Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

        This essay originally was presented as the Tenth Annual Warren Rubel Lecture on Christianity and Higher Learning at Valparaiso University on 1 February 2007.

        The Cresset


        Evans, C. Stephen. Wisdom and Humanness in Psychology: Prospects for a Christian Approach. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
        Gray, John. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
        Hannay, Margaret. C. S. Lewis. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981.
        Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Vol. V. Waco, Texas: Word, 1982.
        Lewis, C. S. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. III. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
        HarperSanFrancisco, 2007.
        _____. The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1964.
        _____. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. I: 1905–1931. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
        HarperSanFrancisco, 2004a.
        _____. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. II: 1931–1949. Walter Hooper, ed. San Francisco:
        HarperSanFrancisco, 2004b.
        _____. “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,”[1952] Reprinted in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, ed., Walter Hooper, 22–34. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
        _____. “Priestesses in the Church?” [1948]. Reprinted in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper, 234–39. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970a.
        _____. “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,”[1954]. Reprinted in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper, 287–300. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970b.
        _____. “Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism,”[1942]. Reprinted in Selected Literary Essays, ed. Walter Hooper, 286–300. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1969.
        _____. [N. W. Clerk, pseudo.] A Grief Observed. London: Faber and Faber, 1961.
        _____. The Four Loves. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960.
        _____. Till We Have Faces. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1956.
        _____. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. London: Collins, 1955.
        _____. Mere Christianity. London: Collins, 1952.
        _____. That Hideous Strength. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1945.
        _____. The Abolition of Man. Oxford: Oxford University, 1943.
        _____. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Oxford: Oxford University, 1942.
        The Cresset
        _____. Perelandra. London: The Bodley Head, 1942.
        Martin, Faith. “Mystical Masculinity: The New Question Facing Women,” Priscilla Papers, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Winter 1998), 6–12.
        Reynolds, Barbara. Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul. New York: St. Martins, 1993.
        Sarna, Nahum M. Understanding Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel. New York: Schocken, 1966.
        Sayer, George. Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.
        Sayers, Dorothy L. “The Human-Not-Quite-Human,”[1946]. Reprinted in Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women
        Human?, 37–47. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1975.
        Sayers, Dorothy L. Gaudy Night. London: Victor Gollancz, 1935.
        Sterk, Helen. “Gender and Relations and Narrative in a Reformed Church Setting.” In After Eden: Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation, ed., Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, 184–221. Grand Rapids:

        Eerdmans, 1993.
        Copyright © 2007 Valparaiso University Press

          • I have an excellent book from 1979 written by 2 parent child development psychologists Dr. Wendy Schemp Matthews and award winning psychologist from Columbia University, Dr.Jeane Brooks-Gunn, called He & She How Children Develop Their Sex Role Identity.

            They thoroughly demonstrate with tons of great studies and experiments by parent child psychologists that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike than different with very few differences but they are still perceived and treated systematically very different from the moment of birth on by parents and other adult care givers. They go up to the teen years.

            They also show that surveys show that boys are overwhelmingly preferred over girls,(sadly nothing has changed and sexist woman-hating,girl-hating Tee shirts that say( I’m Too Pretty For Homework So I Let My Brother Do It For Me) (and other sexist anti-female ads,pornography,etc do too) like these both reflect and contribute to this injustice.They also explain that when people guess if a pregnant woman is having a girl or a boy,and they list a whole bunch of false unproven sexist, gender myth,gender stereotyped,old wives tales,that assign all negative characteristics to a woman if they think she’s having a girl,and the imagined girls or given all of the negative characteristics.

            For example they say that author Elana Belotti(1977) explained these examples, The man and woman each take hold of one end of a wishbone and pull it apart.If the longest part comes away in the man’s hand,the baby will be a boy. If you suddenly ask a pregnant woman what she has in her hand and she looks at her right hand first ,she will have a boy;if she looks at her left hand it will be a girl.If the mother’s belly is bigger on the right-hand side a boy will be born,and also if her right breast is bigger than her left,or if her right foot is more restless.

            If a woman is placid during pregnancy she will have a boy,but if she is bad-tempered or cries a lot,she will have a girl.If her complexion is rosy she’s going to have a son;if she is pale a daughter. If her looks improve,she’s expecting a boy;if they worsen,a girl.If the fetal heartbeat is fast,it is a boy;if it is slow it is a girl.If the fetus has started to move by the fortieth day it will be a boy and the birth will be easy,but if it doesn’t move until the ninetieth day it will be a girl.( Belotti 1977,pp.22-23)

            Dr.Brooks-Gunn and Wendy Schempp Matthews then say, now rate each of the characteristics above as positive or negative. A woman expecting a girl is pale,her looks deteriorate,she is cross and ill-tempered,and she gets the short end of the wishbone,all negative characteristics. They then say,furthermore ,a girl is symbolized by the left-the left hand,the left side of the belly,the left foot,the left breast. They say,left connotes evil,a bad omen,or sinister,again the girls have all of the negative characteristics.

            They then say,that sex-role stereotypes about activity also characterize Belotti’s recipes:boys are believed to be active from the very beginning and girls have slower heartbeats and begin to move around later.They then say,the message although contradictory(girls cause more trouble even though they are more passive) is clear in that it reflects the sex-role stereotype that boys “do” while girls “are” and the belief that boys are more desirable than girls.

            They also say that parents have gender stereotyped reasons for wanting a girl or a boy,obviously if they didn’t it wouldn’t matter if it’s a girl or boy.When my first cousin was pregnant with her first of two girls people even strangers said such false ridiculous things to her,that they were sure she was going to have a boy because she was carrying low or how stomach looked.

            I once spoke with Dr.Brooks-Gunn in 1994 and I asked her how she could explain all of these great studies that show that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike with few differences but are still perceived and treated so differently anyway, and she said that’s due to socialization and she said there is no question, that socialization plays a very big part.

            I know that many scientists know that the brain is plastic and can be shaped and changed by different life experiences and different environments too and Eastern College gender and Christian psychology professor Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen told this to me too when I spoke to her 15 years ago. Dr.Van Leeuwen also said that human beings don’t have sex fixed in the brain and she told me that humans have a unique highly developed cerebral cortex that allows us to make choices in our behaviors and we can learn things that animals can’t.

            There was another case in Canada that I read about online some years ago about another case in which a normal genetic male baby’s penis was destroyed when he was an infant and in this case he was raised as a girl from the much younger age of only 7 months old,not as late as 21 months as was David Reimer,and research shows that the core gender identity is learned by as early as 18 months old.

            In this other case,it was reported in 1998 he was still living as a woman in his 20’s but a bisexual woman. With David Reimer they raised him as a girl too late after he learned most of his gender identity as a boy from the moment he was born and put into blue clothes, treated totally differently, given gender stereotyped toys, perceived and treated totally differently than girls are in every way(in the great book,He and She:How Children Develop Their Sex Role Identity it explains that a lot of research studies and tests by parent child psychologists found that they give 3 month old babies gender stereotyped toys long before they are able to develop these kinds of preferences or ask for these toys. They also found that when adults interacted with the same exact baby they didn’t know was a girl or boy who was dressed in gender neutral clothes,they decided if they *believed* it was a girl or boy.

            And those adults who thought the baby was a boy,always handed the baby a toy foot ball ,but never a doll and they never gave an infant they perceived to be a girl a toy football, were asked what made them think it was a girl or boy and they said they used characteristics of the baby to make the judgement . Those who thought the baby was a boy described characteristics such as strength,those who thought the baby was a girl described the baby as having softness and fragility,and as the Dr.Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Wendy Schempp Mathews explain,Again remember that the same infant was being characterized as strong or soft,the actual distinction by sex characteristics being only in the minds of the adults.

            They also explain that in the toy preference studies,girl toddlers often show an initial interest in the trucks,but eventually abandon them for a more familiar type of toy. Also check out Kate Bornstein’s books,Gender Outlaw and My Gender Workbook,and recently a co-written book,Gender Outlaws. Kate used to be a heterosexual married man who fathered a daughter and then had a sex change and became a lesbian woman who now doesn’t identity as a man or a woman. I heard Kate interview in 1998 on a local NPR show and she totally debunks gender myths,and rejects the “feminine” and “masculine” categories as the mostly socially constructed categories that they really are.She even said,what does it mean to feel or think like a woman(or man) she said what does that really mean.

          • Dr.Janet Shibley Hyde in this 2005 major meta-analysis of hundreds of studies by all different psychologists from decades that was written in American psychologist,the journal of The American Psychological Association,found that the sexes are more alike than different in almost all personality traits,abilities,etc.


          • In these extensive studies by psychologist Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde and others that is still on the American Psychological Association’s web site since 2006 and that was published in American psychologist the journal of The American Psychological Association,Think Again:Men and women Share Cognitive Skills.

            It’s reported that Psychologists have gathered solid evidence that boys or girls or men and women differ in very few significant ways– differences that would matter in school or at work–in how,and how well they think.


          • Public release date: 4-Nov-1999
            Print E-mail 20 Share

            Contact: Penny Burge or Sharon Snow

            Virginia Tech
            20-year-old sex-role research survey still valid

            BLACKSBURG, Va. ­

            In the late 1970s, Penny Burge, director of Virginia Tech’s Women’s Center, was working on her doctoral dissertation at Penn State University researching the relationship between child-rearing sex-role attitudes and social issue sex-role attitudes among parents. As part of her research, Burge designed a 28-question survey in which respondents were asked to mark how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as: “Only females should receive affectionate hugs as rewards,” “I would buy my son a doll,” and “I would be upset if my daughter wanted to play little league baseball.”
            Hard-hitting questions, many of them. But Burge carried on. She received her degree in 1979, and in 1981 her research findings were published in the Home Economics Research Journal.

            Among her findings were that respondents who named the mother as their child’s primary caretaker held more traditional child-rearing sex-role attitudes than respondents who named both parents. In addition, those respondents who held more traditional child-rearing sex-role attitudes also held more traditional social issue sex-role attitudes, and fathers were more conventional than mothers with respect to the issue of whether or not boys and girls should be raised differently.

            “We found that parents do cling to traditional sex-role attitudes,” Burge said. “It was more pronounced with male children where pressure to achieve was more intense.”

            Over the years, Burge occasionally received requests from other researchers for permission to use her survey in their own research. Burge always granted permission, but had redirected her research focus to gender equity in education. She had moved on in her career, serving on the faculty in Virginia Tech’s College of Human Resources and Education from 1979 to 1994 when she became director of the Women’s Center.

            But a recent request from a researcher at New Mexico State University sparked her interest. The researcher, Betsy Cahill, had used Burge’s survey (with some modifications and additions) to conduct research on early childhood teachers’ attitudes toward gender roles. After the results of Cahill’s research were completed and published in The Journal of Sex Roles in 1997, some unexpected events occurred.
            The Educational Testing Service, a national resource that makes research instruments more widely available to other researchers, requested permission to use the Burge and Cahill survey tools in its upcoming Test Collection, a reference publication for future researchers. “I was honored,” Burge said. “It was nice to have another researcher include my survey instrument in her own. And the request from the Educational Testing Service gave an additional sanction to my survey. It’s amazing to me that the same type of social questions are still valid after 20 years.”

            And no one can dispute the past two decades have brought enormous social changes in the world, which leads to the second unexpected occurrence.

            Cahill found that many of the findings from Burge’s research were still very much the same. For example, teachers who espoused traditional gender role beliefs for adults also did for children. For those who were more accepting of cross-gender role behaviors and aspirations, they were more accepting of these behaviors from girls than boys.

            Enter Sharon Snow, newly hired assistant director of the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, and the third coincidence regarding Burge’s survey tool. As part of a survey research class Snow took while working on her graduate degree at Texas Woman’s University, she cited Burge’s study in her literature review.
            “As part of the class, we conducted a survey of students to determine their attitudes about gender roles in children,” Snow said. “We found that parents do indeed drive gender-based behavior. It’s not something that just happens naturally.”

            So 20 year later, researchers find that parents still have a profound influence on their children’s gender roles.

            “The most amazing finding is that despite tremendous societal change over the past two decades, many parents still hold fast to raising their children with traditional sex-roles,” Burge said.

   year old sex role survey &source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=,d.dmQ

          • January 2015 major study of over 100 meta analysis and of 12 million people by two male and female psychology professor found what many other psychologists over decades have found,that the sexes are more alike than different in most areas psychologically including personality.It is published in American psychologist the journal of The American psychological Association


          • Radio interview with psychology professor Dr.Zlatan Krizan of Iowa State University Zlatan Krizan and cultural anthropology professor Emily Wentzell( who rightfully points out how clothes and toys for the sexes are much more gender stereotyped than they were 30 years ago) discuss the findings of the recent extensive gender study that found the sexes are 80% more alike than different.


          • Below is an email I wrote to Oxford University Gender communication professor Deborah Cameron author of the great important book,The Myth Of Mars and Venus Do Men and women Really Speak Different Languages?.

            Dear Deborah,

            I recently read your great important book, The Myth Of Mars & Venus. I read a bad review of the book, The Female Brain on US by psychologist David H.Perterzell he called it junk science.

            I also thought you would want to know that John Gray got his “Ph.D” from Columbia Pacific University which was closed down in March 2001 by the California Attorney General’s Office because he called it a diploma mill and a phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

            Also there is a Christian gender and psychology scholar and author psychology professor Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leewuen who teaches the psychology and Philosophy of Gender at the Christian College Eastern College in Pa. She has several online presentations that were done at different colleges from 2005- the present debunking the Mars & Venus myth.

            One is called , Opposite Sexes Or Neighboring Sexes and sometimes adds, Beyond The Mars/Venus Rhetoric in which she explains that all of the large amount of research evidence from the social and behavorial sciences shows that the sexes are very close neighbors and that there are only small average differences between them many of which have gotten even smaller over the last several decades and in her great even longer article that isn’t online anymore called,What Do We Mean By “Male-Female Complentarity”? A Review Of Ronald W.Pierce,Rebecca M.Groothuis,and Gordon D.Fee,eds Discovering Biblical Equality:Complentarity Without Hierarchy, which she says happened after 1973 when gender roles were less rigid and that genetic differences can’t shrink like this and in such a short period of time, and that most large differences that are found are between individual people and that for almost every trait and behavior there is a large overlap between them and she said so it is naive at best and deceptive at worst to make claims about natural sex differences. etc.

            She says he claims Men are From Mars & Women are From Venus with no empirical warrant and that his claim gets virtually no support from the large amount of psychological and behavioral sciences and that in keeping in line with the Christian Ethic and with what a bumper sticker she saw said and evidence from the behavioral and social sciences is , Men Are From,Earth ,Women Are From Earth Get Used To It. Comedian George Carlin said this too.

            She also said that such dichotomous views of the sexes are apparently popular because people like simple answers to complex issues including relationships between men and women. She should have said especially relationships between them.She also said when I spoke wit her in 1998 and 1999 that human beings don’t have sex fixed in the brain,she said human beings adapt to their environments,and they develop certain characteristics in response to those environments but they are not fixed and unchangeable. Dr.Van Leeuwen also said that I’m correct that the human female and male brain is more alike than different and she said the brain is plastic and easily molded and shaped throughout life by different life experiences and environments.She said humans have a unique highly developed cerebral cortex which animals don’t and this enables people to learn things and make choices that animals can’t.

            Sociologist Dr.Michael Kimmel writes and talks about this also including in his Media Education Foundation educational video. And he explains that all of the evidence from the psychological and behavioral sciences indicates that women and men are far more alike than different. He also demonstrated with a lot of research studies and evidence from the behavioral and social sciences that the sexes are more alike than different in his very good 2000 book,The Gendered Society which he updated several times in more extensive academic volumes called,The Gendered Society Reader.

            Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen says that there are no consistent large psychological sex differences found.

            I have an excellent book from 1979 written by 2 parent child development psychologists Dr. Wendy Schemp Matthews and award winning psychologist from Columbia University, Dr.Jeane Brooks-Gunn, called He & She How Children Develop Their Sex Role Idenity.

            They thoroughly demonstrate with tons of great studies and experiments by parent child psychologists that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike than different with very few differences but they are still perceived and treated systematically very different from the moment of birth on by parents and other adult care givers. They go up to the teen years.

            I once spoke with Dr.Brooks-Gunn in 1994 and I asked her how she could explain all of these great studies that show that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike with few differences but are still perceived and treated so differently anyway, and she said that’s due to socialization and she said there is no question, that socialization plays a very big part.

            I know that many scientists(the good responsible ones) know that the brain is plastic and can be shaped and changed by different life experiences and different life time environments.

            Also there are 2 great online rebuttals of the Mars & Venus myth by Susan Hamson called, The Rebuttal From Uranus and Out Of The Cave: Exploring Gray’s Anatomy by Kathleen Trigiani.

            Also have you read the excellent book by social psychologist Dr.Gary Wood at The University of Birmingham called, Sex Lies & Stereotypes:Challenging Views Of Women, Men & Relationships? He clearly demonstrates with all of the research studies from psychology what Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen does, and he debunks The Mars & Venus myth and shows that the sexes are biologically and psychologically more alike than different and how gender roles and differences are mostly socially created and how they are very limiting and emotionally damaging to both sexes mental and physical health and don’t only allow are encourage them to become more than only a half of a person instead of a whole human person with all of our shared*human* qualities!

            Anyway, if you could write back when you have a chance I would
            really appreciate it.

            Thank You

          • Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women

            Pub. Date: February 1999
            Publisher: MIT Press
            Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women

            by Virginia Valian

            Why do so few women occupy positions of power and prestige? Virginia Valian uses concepts and data from psychology, sociology, economics, and biology to explain the disparity in the professional advancement of men and women. According to Valian, men and women alike have implicit hypotheses about gender differences — gender schemas — that create small sex differences in characteristics, behaviors, perceptions, and evaluations of men and women. Those small imbalances accumulate to advantage men and disadvantage women. The most important consequence of gender schemas for professional life is that men tend to be overrated and women underrated. Valian’s goal is to make the invisible factors that retard women’s progress visible, so that fair treatment of men and women will be possible. The book makes its case with experimental and observational data from laboratory and field studies of children and adults, and with statistical documentation on men and women in the professions. The many anecdotal examples throughout provide a lively counterpoint.

            What People Are Saying

            The MIT Press

            Editorial Reviews

            From the Publisher

            Publishers Weekly

            Social psychologist Valian thinks that the Western world has gotten gender all wrong. “As social beings we tend to perceive the genders as alternatives to each other, as occupying opposite and contrasting ends of a continuum,” she writes, “even though the sexes are not opposite but are much more alike than they are different.” Indeed, despite nearly three decades of feminism, “gender schema”the assumption that masculine and feminine characteristics determine personality and ability continue to influence the expectations and thinking of most Americans. Just about everyone, Valian writes, assumes that men are independent, task-oriented and assertive, while women are tagged as expressive and nurturing. As such, women lag behind in many professions and continue to do the lion’s share of housework and child-rearing. Girls remain less attentive in math and science, while even women who attend medical school tend to steer themselves into “gender appropriate” slots such as family practice or pediatrics. Valian bases her findings on research conducted by social scientists in fields as disparate as psychology, education, sociology and economics, and the result is a work that is both scholarly and anecdotally rich. But it also posits concrete suggestions for changing the way we view the sexes, from stepped-up affirmative action programs, to timetables for rectifying gender-based valuations. Accessible and lively, Why So Slow? is a breakthrough in the discourse on gender and has great potential to move the women’s movement to a new, more productive phase. (Jan.)
            Product Details

            ISBN-13: 9780262720311
            Publisher: MIT Press
            Publication date: 2/5/1999
            Edition description: Reprint
            Pages: 421
            Sales rank: 726,586
            Table of Contents

            A Note on Method and Scope
            1 Gender Schemas at Work 1
            2 Gender Begins – and Continues – at Home 23
            3 Learning About Gender 47
            4 Biology and Behavior 67
            5 Biology and Cognition 81
            6 Schemas That Explain Behavior 103
            7 Evaluating Women and Men 125
            8 Effects on the Self 145
            9 Interpreting Success and Failure 167
            10 Women in the Professions 187
            11 Women in Academia 217
            12 Professional Performance and Human Values 251
            13 Affirmative Action and the Law 277
            14 Remedies 303
            Notes 333
            References 353
            Author Index 385
            Subject Index 393
            © 1997-2013 llc

          • In her very good important 1998 book,Why So Slow? The Advancement Of women, psychologist Virginia Valian says for parents who recognize and actively oppose the limitations of gender schemas matters are more complex she demonstrates clearly that many studies have shown that even parents who say they are egalitarian and who do encourage their children especially girls to consider a wide range of possible occupations and that encouragement influences the children’s aspirations.She then says but without realizing it on the other hand,they are affected by gender schemas,dressing their children in ways appropriate to their gender.

            She then says that their egalitarian beliefs prevent such parents from perceiving that they do encourage gender-specific patterns and from seeing how closely their children conform to the norm.She then says that gender schemas are powerful cultural forces and that adults cannot simply abandon them especially when they are unaware that they hold them and they too conform to them in such matters of dress.On another page she says that everyone,it appears is likely to be affected deeply and nonconsciously by their culture’s view of what it means to be male and female.Then she says that even people who consciously espouse egalitarian beliefs do not realize how profoundly they have internalized the culture’s norms and applied them to their children.

            She then says that there is wide implicit consensus across income level,education,and sex about the core features of gender schemas and for these features parents are much more alike than they are different.She then says regardless of demographic variables,most subscribe to basic gender norms ,dress gender stereotypically themselves,and unwittingly treat their children gender-stereotypically.Then she says parents who actively endorse gender schemas or are unaware of the impact of gender schemas on their perceptions and interpretations,perceive children as gendered from birth and treat them accordingly.

            She also says that studies show that even parents who deliberately try to rear their children nonstereotypically are subject to the influence of gender schemas.She says a study of six year olds for example compared children whose mothers explicitly tried to bring them up in gender-neutral ways with children whose mothers had conventional attitudes about gender roles. And that when independent observers who were unaware of the parents beliefs rated the children’s clothes as masculine or feminine the ratings showed that the boys and girls in both types of families were dressed according to gender norms.She explains that the mothers who were committed to gender equality however saw their children’s clothes as less gender-stereotypical even though they were not.

            She shows how parents perceive and treat their daughters and sons so differently from the moment they are born and she says in chapter 1 called Gender Schemas At work that gender schemas oversimplify and that masculine and feminine traits are not opposites of each other and they are not contradictory and that everyone has both to some degree and expresses different traits in different situations.She then says that differences exist, but the sexes are more alike than they are different and she says it is easy to lose sight of that reality,even though most differences between the sexes are small.

          • There is an excellent online article that I printed out around 2002,by Jungian psychologist Dr.Gary S.Toub,called,Jung and Gender:Masculine and Feminine Revisited. On his site it now only has part of this article and it says you have to register to read the full article. I emailed Dr.Toub years ago and he wrote me back several nice emails,in one he said he really liked my letter,and that it was filled to the brim with excellent points and references.

            In this article he talks about what parts of Jungian thought he finds useful and what he finds problematic. The first thing he says he finds useful is, In the course of Jungian analysis, he often assists female clients to discover traditionally,masculine qualities in their psyche and that he likewise frequently assist male clients to recognize traditionally feminine qualities in their psyche. He says this process frees each gender from the straight-jacket of stereotyped sex roles and expands his clients identities. He then said that the process also mirrors and furthers the breakdown of male-female polarization in our culture,and the cultural shifts towards androgyny.

            He also says that most importantly, his practice of Jungian analysis places the greatest emphasis on facilitating his clients individuation process. He says this means that he tries to assist clients,male or female,to search for their authentic self-definition,distinct from society’s gender expectations.He also says that many Jungian definitions of masculine and feminine are narrow,outdated and sexist.
            He also says that he has found that generalizing about what is masculine and what is feminine is dangerous,often perpetuating gender myths that are discriminatory and damaging.He says while there is some research supporting biological roots to personality differences,the majority of studies suggest that much of what is considered masculine or feminine is culture determined.

            He also says that viewing masculine and feminine as complementary opposites,while useful at times,is problematic. He then says as his gay,lesbian, and transsexual clients have taught him,gender is more accurately viewed as encompassing a wide-ranging continuum. He then says that likewise,the more people he sees in his practice,the more he is impressed at the great diversity in human nature. He says he has seen men of all types and varieties,and women of all kinds. He then says,he is hard-pressed to come up with very many generalizations based on gender.He says he knows that there are some statistical patterns,but how useful are they when he works with individuals and in a rapidly changing society? He says if each person is unique,no statistical norm or average will be able to define who my client is.

            He then says,from a psychological perspective,men and women are not, in fact,opposite. He says his clinical experience is that they are much more psychologically alike than different,and the differences that exist are not necessarily opposing.

          • Delusions of Gender How Our Minds Society and Neurosexism Create Differences by Australian neuro scientist Cordelia Fine also thoroughly debunks common myths of gender

            And also the book,Brain Storm:The Flaws in The Science of Sex Differences by Barnard professor Rebecca Jordan-Young as reviewed by Amanda Schaffer on Slate’s site Oct 21,2010 called The Last Word On Fetal T Rebecca Jordan-Young’s masterful critique of the research on the relatiopnship between testosterone and sex differtence.And she says how remarably similar women and men’s brains and minds actually are.


          • Interview with long time feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin about her teaching and raising her two twin daughters and her son with non-sexist non-gender roles and gender stereotypes.


            Feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s son didn’t reject playing with dolls and tea sets, just as her identical twin daughters didn’t reject the non-gender stereotyped toys and behaviors she encouraged them to have. And her son didn’t grow up gay or transgendered he’s married and I think has children,but he didn’t grow up to be a macho football player either,as Letty said he’s a chef and loves to cook.

            And there is a lot wrong with sexist very limiting gender roles,gender myths and gender stereotypes that are mostly artificially created by the very sexist,gender divided,gender stereotyped,woman-hating male dominated family and society we all live in,which makes both sexes,into only half of a person,instead of full human people able to develop and express their full shared *human* traits,abilities,and behaviors etc. And then these artificial gender differences continue to reinforce gender inequalities,male dominance and men’s violence against women,children and even each other.

            There is a great 2005 book,Sex Lies And Stereotypes Challenging Views Of Women,Men and Relationships by social and cognitive British psychologist Dr.Gary Wood.He too shows plenty of great important research studies done over decades by many different psychologists that finds small average sex differences,and the sexes are much more similar than different.He also thoroughly demonstrates that gender roles,gender myths and gender stereotypes which are mostly socially and culturally constructed,harm both sexes because they are very liming,cause conflicts and misunderstands between women and men,and only allow each of them to become half of a person which can cause mental and physical conditions and diseases.

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