The Early Development of Gender Differences
Author(s): Matthew H. McIntyre and Carolyn Pope Edwards
Source: Annual Review of Anthropology , 2009, Vol. 38 (2009), pp. 83-97
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.com/stable/20622642
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Review of Anthropology
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All use subject to http INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this review is to summarize the
current evidence about the role of biological
factors in the development of human gender
over the life course. Rather than accept the
distinction between biological sex and cultural
gender, we employ the term gender very
broadly to include both sex differences them
selves and the cultural and biological processes
that shape them. At the risk of over-reaching,
we , related
within-sex variation, and broader features of
human social systems such as patriarchy. Our
review begins with biological theory about
gender and its application to the evolution
of human sex differentiation, followed by
a discussion of the developmental course
of human sex differences and the various
biological and social gendering processes. As
such, we also consider research from many
disciplines, including tentative consideration
of sociocultural studies conducted from a
humanistic perspective. One important topic
that we unfortunately leave out is sexuality.
BIOLOGICAL THEORIES ABOUT
Biological theory about gender (even if that
term is not always used) refers to the exis
tence, in sexually reproducing species, of two
distinct reproductive strategies called parental
investment and mating effort, which have
been elaborated from Darwin’s description of
sexual selection. Parental investment encom
passes activities that are cosdy to parents but
direcdy contribute to the growth or survival
of offspring (Trivers 1972). For some species,
this investment consists almost entirely of the
initial cytoplasm contained in the gametes, with
no further support provided by parents, but
mammals have a number of additional parental
functions including lactation. Parental invest
ment is, in principle, common to both sexual
and asexual reproduction. However, finding a
mate is only relevant to sexual reproduction. In
some species, finding a mate may involve travel
over long distances, displays of health or beauty,
84 Mclntyre Edwards
physical conflict with others who are seeking
mates, or coercion of the potential mates them
selves (Bateman 1948, Clutton-Brock & Parker
1992, Dewsbury 1982). For reasons that are not
fully understood (Kokko et al. 2006, Wade &
Shuster 2002), of
many kinds are often, but not always, enacted by
one physical form, which is also often the form
with larger gametes, called female, and mating
activities by another physical form, often with
smaller, more motile gametes, called male.
In most mammals, virtually all parental in
vestment is done by females and all mating ef
fort by males, resulting in more notable sex
differences than in other taxa (Clutton-Brock
1989, Orians 1969). The few exceptions are in
species in which roles may be partially mixed
and the sexes have less notable differences, and
which more often have mating systems charac
terized as monogamous (Jarman 1983, Plavcan
2001). The primate order includes a relatively
large number of monogamous species, often
characterized by some level of male parental
investment (Fuentes 1998). The characteriza
tion of patterns of human parental investment
and mating effort has been the subject of debate
among evolutionary anthropolog
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