Conclusions

The similarity in gender stereotypes found cross-culturally suggests that the psychological characteristics differentially associated with women and men follow a pancul-tural model with cultural factors producing minor variations around general themes. Biological differences (e.g., females bear children, males have greater physical strength) serve as the basis for a division of labor, with women primarily responsible for child care and other domestic activities, and men for hunting (providing) and protection. Gender stereotypes evolve to support this division of labor and assume that each sex has or can develop characteristics consistent with their assigned roles. Once established, stereotypes serve as socialization models that encourage boys to become independent and adventurous, and girls to become nurturant and affiliative. Consequently, these characteristics are incorporated into men's and women's self-concepts, aspects of their masculinity and femininity. This model illustrates how, with only minor variations, people across different cultures come to associate one set of characteristics with men and another set with women.

Pancultural similarities in sex and gender greatly outweigh cultural differences. Indeed, the way in which male-female relationships are organized is remarkably similar across social groups. The relatively minor biological differences between the sexes can be amplified or diminished by cultural practices and socialization, making gender differences in roles and behaviors generally modest but in some cases culturally important.

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