Evolutionary Explanation of Gender Development

942 words 4 pages
Outline and evaluate the evolutionary explanation of gender development.
Gender refers to the concepts o masculine and feminine whereas sex is the biological fact of being a male or female. According to the evolutionary approach, gender differences are neither deliberate nor conscious; they exist because they enhanced or helped men and women perform particular types of roles in the past. Therefore, the role differences we observe are more a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through socialisation.
Part of the evolutionary explanation is Trivers’ parental investment theory which argues that the origin of behavioural differences between men and women lies in the different ways of achieving reproductive success. Trivers
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Evidence for this includes the meat-sharing hypothesis, Stanford (1999). This suggested that meat was very important for survival so men would offer meat to women, in exchange for sex, which explains why the best hunter’s genes would be passed on the most. Sternglanz and Nash (1988), however criticise the evolutionary explanation of gender development as they suggest that the theory is too basic, as it does not account for the desired traits, which did not lead reproductive success such as promiscuity in men.
An advantage of the evolutionary theory is that there is evidence for nature as the predicted difference in how men and women advertise themselves has been confirmed by research. Waynforth and Dunbar(1995) reviewed personal ads and found that 44% of men sought a physically attractive partner compared with just 22% of women.
However there is evidence against nature and a major criticism of the evolutionary explanation of gender roles is that it is deterministic, so our genes specify exactly how we will behave. For example, in terms of gender roles this theory says that our genes specify that males will take on the role of hunter whereas women will take on the role of child rarer. This deterministic view fails to acknowledge that our genes only predispose us to behaving a certain way and fails to acknowledge other factors such as socialisation.
Also, there are methodological criticisms

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