Personality Differences by Gender

Although the data are incomplete, the major cultural stereotype concerning gender personality differences was that women were credited with causing more trouble than men. Women were expected to be at the center of quarrels and gossip. Consequently, the training of high-status women emphasized that this was inappropriate behavior and that they would be honored, and honor their people, by cooperating and avoiding public criticism. Stories of feuds and wars caused by women's behavior are commonly told. De Laguna (1972) cited potlatches where women were called for honors due to their exemplary behavior.

A woman was not expected to be shy or docile, however. A high-ranked woman, like a man, needed to assert her rank in society. As a trader she was expected to strike a hard bargain and come away with the better deal. Early European explorers and missionaries wrote with disapproval of the toughness of the Tlingit women they met. The contemporary European feminine virtues of nurturance, dependency, and deference were not evident to them. In fact, these "virtues" would have dishonored a high-ranked woman.

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