Gender Vs Sex
Last edit: 19:04, 8 March 2011
I am Elizabeth Mbeza Simonda your facilitator in Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise. You are all welcome to this session. I hope you have all enjoyed yourselves so far during the discussions in the previous sessions facilitated by my fellow facilitators. I also hope that you will find our discussions on Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise useful and interesting.
From the notes on Gender Considerations for Youth in Enterprise that you have read so far, what do you think the differences between Sex and gender are? What do we mean by gender roles?
Last edit: 19:14, 9 March 2011
Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term "gender", and how it differs from the closely related term "sex".
"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.
"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
To put it another way:
"Male" and "female" are sex categories, while "masculine" and "feminine" are gender categories.
Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.
Some examples of sex characteristics :
- Women menstruate while men do not
- Men have testicles while women do not
- Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not
- Men generally have more massive bones than women, etc
Some examples of gender characteristics :
- In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
- In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
- In most of the world, women do more housework than men
Last edit: 20:49, 8 March 2011
Gender refers to the social differences and relations between girls and boys, between women and men while sex refers to the biological differences between women and men that are universal and do not change. Gender roles, this simply means the roles for women and men or what they are supposed to do in the society.
Trainers should consider gender issues when conducting their trainings eg time table should go along with the expectations towards participants such as that women still have to look after their families and attend trainings.. This is important because it affects the quality of any training.
Sex is the biological differences between women and men. That is say the only differentiation of women and men is the sexual reproductive organs which cannot be changed. In simple terms it being either female or male where as gender is the social relations and differences that differ from society to society, culture to culture or country to country that are learned or acquire by being in a particular set up. These are not static but can be changed.
Gender roles are those roles work that are carried out by a certain grouping for example cleaning the house, caring for children, being an accounts or being an electrician. These roles can be carried out by either males or females.
I think you have a very valid point in terms of planning the time allocation for trainings. While we expect that women should participate fully in the trainings, it would be (gender) insensitive to allocate training time in hours that are not friendly for the ladies. Remember that women are more concerned about their personal safety than men since they are more vulnerable to attacks.
I hope that point has been taken by the facilitators
Hello, I think the gender issues still go a long way. One may try to accommodate women needs when designing their trainings it is almost impossible to cater for all of them. I believe it is better to conduct separate trainings where possible. In that way it becomes easy to design a training that will be effective and benefiting to them.
Hello I have a strong feeling that much has been done to deal with gender issues especially in favour of women. I also think they should be doing something to use the available opportunities instead of feeling sorry for themselves that they do not have what, they have much to do. Men have been sensitized and they are willing to cooperate with women and sometimes share chores only if everything is done with resect.
Last edit: 23:09, 8 March 2011
Hi Greg and Simon,
Thank you for your interesting discussion on the differences between Sex, Gender and gender roles. You are both right on the definitions that you gave for Sex and gender. Thank you Simon for the examples that you gave on the sex characteristics and gender characteristics.
In addition to what both of you said about gender, kindly remember that the social differences and relations between women and men including young women and young men are learned and can change over time if people want to. For example, the gender characteristics that Simon gave in the united States, Saudi Arabia and in the whole world, will change over time especially when these countries and their societies have gender equality because they are not biological/sex differences.
As for the gender roles Greg, is not what women and man are supposed to do but rather what women and men actually already do
Greg, you are right that trainers should consider gender issues and constraints when conducting training so that women and girls can also participate equally while at the same time are given an opportunity to continue with household chores. You should however remember that household chores such as looking after their families are gender roles which can be carried out by their husbands and other male relatives when the women are participating in some training programmes.
What do are the other participants saying about this discussion? Participants ...
Simonda, You are right by saying that household chores can also be done by males. I think that's the gender socialization we need to appreciate. For us young people, it starts with how we relate to our girlfriends, and later on wives, we can change our attitudes about who does the chores and break the cycle today. So that even when we have families of our own, we shall show by example to our children that men can also do what has for a long time been believed to be a woman's role.
In terms of training, I feel that trainers need to aim at questioning gender norms and attitudes in their participants, both males and females. Especially challenging negative masculinity which lead to a lot of gender injustices.
Allow me to contribute by asking a question. Have we notice at least in Zambia that house maids are normally women and garden boys are men. In the colonial days that is pre-1964 and even a few years after Independence, men used to work as 'house maids'. What could have caused the shift?
GabKon What a great question. To answer you, I think the fact that women are now maids is a step in the right direction on its own. Then we had men as house boys because women could not be employed in Zambia and they were not even allowed to travel, for instance go to the Copperbelt or major towns. So they stayed in the villages, farming and keeping their children. that is why men were employed as both garden boys and house boys...
SO now, after Independence and travel restrictions on women were lifted, women needed to find work. At that point, they could either pick on gardening or house keeping, and due to gender norms, the house jobs were left to the women and men took up exterior jobs like gardening until this day. But we know that the best professional renowned cooks are male, so there is no excuse for men refusing to cook in the home.
Do I make sense?
Well, so many things could have caused this change. May be the jobs of house maids were lass masculine as compared to a garden boy so it could have been perceived that men could in addition do less masculine jobs such as "house maids". It may also suggest that this was borrowed from the western culture. It may also be that, the employers fell more comfortable working with men as they could double as both house maids and garden boys at certain times. That is my little contribution.--Kafuiaheto 21:27, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Last edit: 19:05, 9 March 2011
Hi all-Ubandoma, Rabrod, Remmy, GabKan, Chichi, Remmy, Gabriel and Shining Star,
You all have very interesting discussions and contributions. Your discussions also shows how much interest you have in the session and also that you have knowledge on the subject matter.
However, I want to make the following comments to all of you.
- You have all understood the difference between sex and gender and gender roles. Ubandoma and others, it is however important to remember that gender roles are roles that both women and men already do and not society expects them to do. What society expects men and women to do is something else.
- Rabrod, I was going to give you the same explanation as the one that Remmy has given you on why talk about gender and your reasons why you think that women should get low salaries than men because they work less hours than men due to some reproductive roles. The reproductive roles of getting pregnant, going on maternity leave etc are additional roles for a professional woman and do not stop her from doing her job in a professional manner like a male-folk. Therefore, it is not right for that woman to get the same salary as the man if they have same qualifications. Roles like looking after a child are gender roles and hence the current advocate for maternity leave foe men so that they can share the role of looking after the baby until the baby is big enough to be left in the hands of a helper or to be taken to a baby class/nursery. Besides, working class women help their husbands in providing for the family from the salary that they get and this used to be a man's role by tradition.
- The discussion by GabKan on women to be allowed to participate in training programmes with their babies and maids is very encouraging. I know of a number of organizations in Zambia that provide such kind of support to women. I agree with you GabKan and this kind of practice will give an opportunity for many women to participate in developmental programmes such as training, women can travel out on duty without any problems if supported to resolve such kind of gender constraints.
- Chichi, gender and sex are not the same. Gender characteristics are not characteristics that makes a difference between a man and a woman. It is sex which makes a woman different from a man. As said by your colleagues before, a man is different from a woman because he has a penis and testicles while a woman has a vagina, a man can impregnate a woman and a woman gets impregnated etc.. Gender characteristics can be changed while the sex characteristics can not be changed-Refer to Simon's examples.
Chichi, you talked of women who want to change themselves into men through an operation and vise versa. I want to believe that there is a sex desire and even whether they got the operation, biologically they can not change their sex which God gave them. They may manage to change the outer organs but they can not pregnant women and the men who change to women can not get pregnant in the normal way.
- GabKan, Women can also own properties like houses just like men in Nigeria or any other country. I am sure that in Nollywood, you have also seen women who own houses and keep men. All what matters is for a woman or man to have money to buy a house. Those men that tell women to leave their homes if divorced, means that the men acquired the houses before marrying the woman. In many countries, there are laws that protects women. Such roles state that what ever property that a couple acquires while married belongs to both of them. So if they were staying in a house which they acquired while married, a man can not tell a woman to leave his home. If they get divorced, the house may be sold so that they share the money.
Remmy has given very good explanation to your question on why women can only work as housemaids and men as garden boys these days. What is important for you to remember is that to be a house maid or garden person is a gender role which can be done by both men and women. There is nothing biological/sex about it. Thank you Remmy again for your discussion over this.
- Remmy, we are discussing about gender so that the young people that you work with can get the correct information and knowledge on gender as they prepare themselves to be adults who will have their own families. This will enable them to be able to work together with their spouses for the benefit of their families, communities and the country as a whole.
- Thank you also for your contributions Gabriel and shining Star. You were also very correct with what you said.
Lastly but not the least, thank you all for your interesting contributions on the differences between sex and gender and what gender roles are.
What do you understand by gender equality and gender norms/values/stereotypes?
Thanks Remmy, GabKon, Simonda,
after learning from you all I have gotten something especialy that the issue of gender I didnt whant to hear it becourse I thought it has come to make a man and a woman the same. but I have few findings bellow:
- Gender equality is ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of all girls and boys, women and men in the education system.
Source: UNESCO (2003). Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality. Paris: UNESCO
- The ways that girls and boys experience teaching and learning in the classroom can be markedly different, influencing their class participation, educational achievement and learning outcomes:
- Social and cultural values and stereotypes about gender can be inadvertently reinforced in the classroom and at school through teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil interaction (see text box below for specific examples).
- Teaching approaches and methods used to reach engage and assess students, may also favour boys, particularly in societies where girls are discouraged from speaking in public, expressing their opinions or questioning male authority.
- Finally, sexual harassment and sexual abuse by teachers or peers can be widespread and its sanction is often ignored by authorities; the teacher’s behaviour may be treated as either unexceptional or the victim’s fault, despite how frequently it may result in early pregnancy and school drop-out.
- Gender equality is not about the cancellation of differences between man and woman, nor is it about making woman and woman the same. Gender equality is about providing equal opportunities and chances to both woman and man
Source: Canadian International Development Agency TIP SHEETS – JUNE 2010 --RABROD 12:52, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Sex is determined by the differences in the physiological make up of men and women, and gender by the social differences betwen each sex, based on societal expectations.
While gender roles are those unwritten duties and responsibilities that tradition and the society has assigned to each of both sexes to carry out in family and communal life.
The differences between sex and gender, Sex is determined biologically and refers to an individuals physical anatomy, like genitalia, facial hair, body structure and compostition. Sex is also refers to biological characteristics that seperate male from female and sex is not cuturally influenced in a direct way although certain cultures believe in certain practices or influences impact the sex of a child during pregnancy and is normally considered to be comletely biological in nature, uninfluenced by culture norms and valus.
Gender is determined by social interaction exchange and absorption of peer and large cultural values that determine gender identity and affiliation, Gender can also be consider fluid in the sense that one challenge their own gender identity in some instances holding it completely opposed to the sex. Gender is usually refers as a charcteristics that are considered to distinguish between male and female, it also reflect to one's biological sex and gender identity.
For example, a woman who considers herself to be male possessing the same sexual desire as a male and she contemplating undergoing surgery in order to become male is an example of sex and gender.
Gender role is the set of social and behavioural norms that are to be considered to be socially appropriate for individual of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture.
Thanks for your contribution. I have noticed from Nollywood (Nigerian movies) that when a man is divorcing or chasing a wife from home he says "Pack your bags and leave my home". Can we take it from such examples that generally men are expected to own property in Nigeria (and maybe West Africa?) and not women?
Intresting question on Nollywod movies. There are no laws against women owning properties in Nigeria and a lot of women own properties and there are also cases where Men have sole ownership of their houses/properties, with no financial input from their wives, and there are cases where both man and woman contribute to buying a property.
What it means in context of the movie you saw, is that that the Man owns the property, and so may have decided to divorce the woman without any rights to his property. But again, there is this general idea or belief in Africa, that a man owns the house, and even if it is a rented property,and they have both contributed to the rent, once he wants to divorce the woman, he goes : LEAVE MY HOUSE . I thinlk the belief that it is always the Man's house in Africa, is a gender sensitive issue.
Dear Shinging Star,
I hope that movies can help show us where we still have gender discrimination and then find workable solutions.
While I agree that this is a gender (in)sensitive issue, this is the African way of life. I may be considered a gender stereotype but a man being housed by a woman is a sign of severe weakness on the part of the man. And fortunately, or unfortunately, the women have bought that as well!
That is why Shining Star will confirm that there are no restrictive laws on property ownership but is comfortable with "leave my house"
Hi Gabkon Thank God you said in movies,I dont think is a bad idea for a man to own a property cos they use to say that men are the head of the family but since a man fall to take up his responsibilities a woman can help. In recent times some women do get married to a man that dosen't have anything even a degree certificate, she will take up the challenges of bringing him into her house,take care of him and the kids and will also put him school or fix up some where even business.
Thanks Chichi for your response. Sometimes movies reflect the prevailing thoughts and actions in society. Like you have said women can and should assist in owning property especially in the context of marriage. However, some societies may have challenges where relatives to the man grab property from a woman when the husband dies. For such a woman, to start an enterprise, they will have a lot of challenges.
Yes Chichi you are right. Times have changed. I should point out that, men need to be reached and assisted so that they can change the way they perceive women. For instance, some men are threatened by a woman who is more academically qualified or gets a higher salary than him. Such men tend to feel bad about the situation, they feel defeated and often times resort to physical strength like beating up their wives so that they can prove their manhood.
So as much as we empower women and encourage them to rely on themselves, we need to work with men and boys too.
The differences between gender and sex: Sex refers to the biological differences between women and men that are universal and do not change. For example, men can impregnate a women and only a women can carry and give birth a baby and breast feed a baby while gender refers to the social differences and relations between girls and boys, between women and men that are learned and change over time within a society and between societies.Gender is socially created ideas and practices of what it is considered to be female or male while sex is universal, biological differences between men and women.Gender is imposed by human society, which generates some deep and far-reaching sense of inequality between the sexes and sex is the basic fact of the nature and does not unfair assign its biological
Gender roles is what men and women can do without any discrimination of sex.Gender roles are socially-defined roles for women and men.For example, most cultures define child rearing as a female role, although there is no biological reason why men cannot do it.
Dear Simonda, Thanks for moderating this interesting topics. I am totally in agreement with the above positing by Janet. In addition there are two main groups of gender theories: non-feminist and feminist, importantly , gender is one of the most important approach to understand issues and problems related to women, as well as women’s entrepreneurship issues. On the other hand, there are no significant difference in the source of assistance used by men and women but yet women enterprises face a higher failure rate than men’s because men are significantly more likely to have access to several outside resources of required business development services and women’s roles and responsibilities become imbued with the ideal of the domestic. Therefore the proper understanding the role of Gender on youth entrepreneurship is most critical
Dear Ekanath, Another reason why some entrepreneurial ventures for women fail is because they face opposition from men. In Kisumu, Kenya for instance, I learned that some women who were given seed funds to set up their own businesses suffered losses when their husbands would want to control the moneys and use them for their own activities like alcohol abuse. In such cases a woman is faced with a dilemma, to divorce and grow in business, or to lose the business and keep her marriage. A choice no woman should be made to make, EVER!
Dear Remmy, Thanks for your response on my posting above. There are many barriers for women entrepreneurs when facing the prospects of starting a new business as well as to sustain their enterprises. The issues you raised is one of the critical barriers for women to be successful entrepreneurs. when I was in south Sudan I saw the situation even worse. What I realised that to promote women led entrepreneurship, we need to develop some gender awareness to the men to find their supportive role as well - what I used to advocate for holistic gender awareness.
Sex is smething that is unchangeable i.e. being male or female.
Gender refers to the various perceptions and roles that society assigns to males and females. For example certain societies may have a perception that a good education is meant for boys or males while not much money should be spent on educating girls.
Gender roles refer to the various roles that men and women do in society. These roles are normally determined by and traditions and perceptions of society. Gender roles my change due to various factors e.g. government policies and regulations, education interaction with different communities.
Gabriel Konayuma, Zambia
Last edit: 20:34, 9 March 2011
I am just learning from all of you about the issues of gender, in most cases am much behind in this topic it is not really new to me but I had no interest in it in the past days.
My reasons for this are (may not sound so well to others but I fill its a reality):
- A man is a man and nothing will change that
- why gender, according to our creation we are given roles to play. such as
a man shall be the head of the house
- while a woman is a helper,
e.g. at work places a man and a woman have same qualifications and the are employed at the same level lets say Director of Department, now see that gender hear look not to be balanced. the salary scale for the female director will be low as compared to the Male 's. one of the reasons could be that a woman will have alot of days of due to nature, again a woman with child will be given maybe three months until she delivers a baby. so you will understand that it is worth to employ a male than a female because all male's time will be used to perform in their organisation. maybe it is because men can work longer hours as compared to women.
I need guidance were dores the gender issue comes in
Thanks Rabrod for your contribution. I find it unfortunate that female directors are paid less than their male counterparts for the reasons you have given. To me these are policy matters that need re-visiting. Just because a female employee takes time out to attend to family responsibilities doesn't make her less valuable than the male counterpart. There is need to realise that the role she plays in child bearing and child raising means thatsocieity can expect better citizens in future. Work places need to adopt gender friendly environments e.g. why not have a space where females that have babies can be allowed to breast-feed when a baby is brought from home? Why not allow a female with a baby travel with a maid to a workshop outside town? with costs for the maid met by the employer? In addition, I think employers should not look at the quantity of time employees spend at work...but should consider more the quality that they bring to work.
I think it is an excellent suggestion that Women should be allowed to travel with their maids or nanny for official trips/workshops with all expenses paid by the office. Humm, i like that, i think Ministries that deal with gender issues should take that idea up and start working on it. If such a policy is in place it will ensure that women contribute effectively during the nursing/child rearing stages
Rabrod, Do not worry, that's why we are here to help one another.
Firstly gender in itself is just a term and no one can advocate for gender. What we do advocate for is gender equality and equity. Without confusing you, I should state that what we are saying in plain language is this: Men and women should exist as equal people and be availed with equal opportunities"
Therefore, women and men ought to respect each other not because they are male or female but because they are humans. If a women is qualified and applies for a top job, you should give her the job and not discriminate against her because she is a woman. The reason why women spend more time at home, getting pregnant and raising children and missing work or going on maternity leave, is because most men do not care to also participate in this important task. Other organisations now have paternity leave which is given to the man when his wife is on maternity leave so that they can both take care of raising the child. As a child development psychologist, I can tell you that the first few weeks of a newly born baby are very vital for bonding with the parent who is around and men should be allowed to be there too..
As to who heads the house? That is an issue that a couple needs to communicate effectively on, have mutual understanding and respect so that they find ways of complimenting one another. It is not the job of the NGOs to tell a couple how they ought to head the households, but what we can do is that we ensure that they both respect each other and treat each other with love, diginity and respect. In such a home, gender based violence will not be around. And so we will be bringing about gender equality.
Thanks Remmy for the point raised on men also playing a part in raising kids. I remember taking a paternity leave of 5 days in 2007 when my 3rd girl was born. I was one of the first in my organisation to take this kind of leave and it sounded so strange but it was worthwhile for me and something I could encourage for other men to do.
You're right. Young men these days are really playing serious roles in supporting their wives in raising children. I have been getting my son ready for school everyday and I pick him from school as well. if for a reason I'm unable to pick my son from school, the first question he would ask whoever picked him is: why is papa? My wife travelled to Manchester, UK for a PhD when our son was three years. I cared for him without the help of the so-called house-helps. Our philosophy has always been that whatever each of us do is for the benefit of the family and so we support each other in everything.
I don't believe that the argument of women going for maternity leaves justifies that they be paid lower than their male counterparts. what about that sickly male employee who is in and out of office on sick leaves, what about that alcoholic male who will not waste any opportunity to sneak out of the office to get a tot, what about that male employee who spends most of the work time doing unrelated work? Of course we should not be unfair to our women folk since when they go for maternity leaves, there is always a man involved and remember the product of that leave is another worker who will maybe be more efficient.
In lay language:
Gender is socially determined Sex is Biologically determined
Gender roles refer to those roles society prescribes for men and women while sex roles are those an individual performs as a result of being either male or female anatomically.
Gender roles entail roles, responsibilities that society expects of women and of men, how they dress, talk walk, what jobs and professions they pursue. It is imperative to state that gender roles since are brought about by society, they therefore can change and vary from one culture to another.
Hi Elizabeth and my Colleaques,
My understanding of sex is that it refers to the anatomical make-up which distinguishes an individual as either a male or a female, man or woman, boy or girl.
Gender on the other hand, is a generic term that classifies both sexes into groups based on societal consideraions e.g, relationships and responsibilities..
Hi every one, Gender roles are responsibilities or obligations hitherto assigned to or performed by people based on their sexes but can change with time or space.
Hi everyone. Allow me to quote from Ann-Maree Nobelious from Monash University School of Nursing. "Sex refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.So while your sex as male or female is a biological fact that is the same in any culture, what that sex means in terms of your gender role as a 'man' or a 'woman' in society can be quite different cross culturally. These 'gender roles' have an impact on the health of the individual.In sociological terms 'gender role' refers to the characteristics and behaviours that different cultures attribute to the sexes. What it means to be a 'real man' in any culture requires male sex plus what our various cultures define as masculine characteristics and behaviours, likewise a 'real woman' needs female sex and feminine characteristics." from http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html. Farai Chansa- Zambia
Hi colleagues I have found the discussion very interesting. As many have explained, sex refers to the biological make up of an indivudual. Sex roles are the reproductive fuctions which an individual performs at some point in the life cycle. Sex roles are universal and do not change over time.
Gender roles are socially constructed, cultural specific and may change over time.
I want to end with a question: I have observed that on some application forms (e.g course enrolment) the question asking whether one is male or female is written as Sex: ..... or Gender: ...... Is it right to use these 2 terms interchangeably for this purpose?
To me i think to avoid any confusion, the questions should be asking weather it is male or female.
Dear Simonda, Dear colleagues, Sex is the physical and behavioural difference that distinguishes individual according to their functions in the reproductive process. (Encarta, 2009). For example, only men can determine the sex of a baby whiles only a woman can get pregnant. These characteristics are nominal and there possess natural dichotomies. Gender is a collective term for systems of social theories and belief that distinguishes between girls and boys, between women and men that are: 1. Learned 2. Change over time within a society and between societies. (Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise Training, discussion paper by Elizabeth Simonda)
Oh oh.... here comes a new one; only men can determine the sex of babies??? Fill me in
Sex is bilogical difference between male and female that cannot be changed. For example the reproductive role of women cannot be exchanged even by sex change. Gendr roles are socially defined and sometimes are specific to certain cultures.--Smauye 13:55, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
I think simply put, gender is the roles while sex is the biological component. Gender roles are variable while sex is static.
Gender roles include house chores, children upbringing, (for women), manual work eg construction (for men)
Sex has to do with biological make up of individuals. That is to say whether you are are born male or female. Gender on the other hand has to do with social relationships between the two sexes.