Summer 2004

Scientific Study of the Psychology of Gender

Morawski,Jill G.

06/28/2004 - 07/15/2004
Monday-Thursday 01:30 PM - 04:00 PM

Judd Hall 214

Over the course of the 20th century, the question of the differences between the sexes became predominantly one of psychology. Scientific studies of the psychological differences between men and women proliferated, and the findings from these studies are used to guide almost every feature of public and private life, including social policy, workplace practices, pedagogy, and health care. Media reports regularly announce gender differences in everything from mathematical abilities and color preferences to mating styles and honesty. The ubiquity of such analyses suggests that gender is more a matter of mind than body (our psyche defines our gender), but often also claims that mind is a product of body (our body defines our gender).

The psychology of gender is explored in terms of its scientific bases and its cultural meanings. We focus first on the scientific bases of the psychological study of sex differences, surveying the methods of experimentation and data analysis. We review the major theories, from psychoanalysis to evolutionary psychology, and examine the dynamics of race and class in gender relations. Knowledge about these scientific approaches is essential for assessing the validity of claims about gender differences and similarities. A second focus concerns the cultural meanings of the psychology of gender and how gender understandings and practices circulate through public and private life. With grounding in both scientific and cultural dimensions, we critically appraise several recent studies in the psychology of gender.

Readings include texts such as Janet Hyde, HALF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE; Judith Butler, GENDER TROUBLE; Deborah Tolman, DILEMMAS OF DESIRE; Daniel Kindlon, RAISING CAIN; Judith Halberstam, FEMALE MASCULINITY; Niobe Way, EVERYDAY COURAGE: THE LIVES AND STORIES OF URBAN TEENAGERS; and Michael Kimmel, MEN'S LIVES. A course packet will be available two weeks prior to the first meeting.

Students will present two case studies with short written reports, and a research paper.

By student petition this course may count toward the social sciences concentration.

Students will be provided with a reading assignment to be completed in advance of the first class meeting.

Jill Morawski (B.A. Mount Holyoke College; M.A., Ph.D. Carleton University) is professor of psychology, women's studies, and science in society at Wesleyan University. She is author of numerous works including The Rise of Experimentation in American Psychology (Yale University Press, 1988) and Practicing Feminisms (University of Michigan, 1994).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Janet Hyde, HALF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE 6th Edition (Houghton Mifflin), Paperback

Michael Kimmel & Michael Messner 6th Edition, MEN'S LIVES (Pearson, Allyn & Bacon), Paperback

Deborah Tolman, DILEMMA OF DESIRE: TEENAGE GIRLS TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY (Harvard University Press), Paperback

PLEASE NOTE: A course packet will be available for purchase at Broad Street Books


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