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Module 7: Gender Differences

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Introduction to Gender Differences

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Gender roles are the patterns of behaviours, attitudes, and expectations associated with a particular sex—with being either male or female. For clarity, psychologists sometimes distinguish gender differences, which are related to social roles, from sex differences, which are related only to physiology and anatomy.

Using this terminology, gender matters in teaching more than sex. Although there are many exceptions, boys and girls do differ on average in ways that parallel conventional gender stereotypes and that affect how the sexes behave at school and in class.

The differences have to do with:
• Physical behaviours
• Styles of social interaction
• Academic motivations, behaviours, and choices

They have a variety of sources—primarily parents, peers, and the media. Teachers are certainly not the primary cause of gender role differences, but sometimes teachers influence them by their responses to and choices made on behalf of students.