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How does being male or female shape us? And what, aside from obvious anatomical differences, does being male and female mean? In this book, the author explores how individuals express their sexual identity at successive periods in their lives. Chief among her contentions is that gender differences appear primarily in group, or social, contexts. In childhood, boys and girls tend to gravitate towards others of their own sex. The text examines why this segregation occurs and how boys' groups and girls groups develop distinct cultures with different agendas. A complex combination of biological, cognitive, and social factors that contribute to gender segregation and group differentiation are identified. A major finding is that these childhood experiences in same-sex groups profoundly influence how members of the two sexes relate to one another in adulthood - as lovers, co-workers and parents. The author shows how in constructing these adult relationships, men and women utilize old elements from their childhood experiences as well as new ones arising from different adult agendas. Finally, she considers social changes in gender roles in light of her discoveries about the constraints and opportunities implicit in the same-sex and cross-sex relationships of childhood.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674914827
ISBN-10: 0674914821
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 26mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: The Belknap Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 8-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Eleanor E. Maccoby

Eleanor E. Maccoby is Professor Emerita of Psychology at Stanford University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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