Biosocial theory of gender

Those of you studying the AQA A specification have to study biosocial explanations of gender. In order to answer an exam question on this topic it is creditworthy to simply describe and evaluate biological and psycho/social/cultural factors in the development of gender – as long as the interaction between these factors is emphasised. The question came up in January 201 and that was the advice given to examiners.

However it is also creditworthy to present biosocial theories and one of these is by Alice Eagly and Wendy Wood (1999). Many people find this theory difficult so I produced a diagram to explain it.


This shows how the traditional evolutionary account differs from Eagly and Wood’s evolutionary account which suggests that social roles led to psychological differences rather than vice versa. This has some interesting (I think) predictions – for example, if social roles can be manipulated then the psychological differences between men and women may disappear. If you free women from childcare duties (or share them more equally) then women become more assertive and powerful.

There are plenty of IDA opportunities because this is not only an evolutionary approach to understanding behaviour but also a social constructionist one and a feminist perspective.


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