Gender inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. A core factor that feeds gender inequality is people's gender ideology - a set of beliefs about the proper order of society in terms of the roles women and men should fill. We argue that gender ideology is shaped, in large parts, by the way people make sense of gender differences. Specifically, people often think of gender differences as expressions of a predetermined biology, and of men and women as different 'kinds'. We describe work suggesting that thinking of gender differences in this biological-essentialist way perpetuates a non-egalitarian gender ideology. We then review research that refutes the hypothesis that men and women are different 'kinds' in terms of brain function, hormone levels and personality characteristics. Next, we describe how the organization of the environment in a gender-binary manner, together with cognitive processes of categorization drive a biological-essentialist view of gender differences. We then describe the self-perpetuating relations, which we term the gender-binary cycle, between a biological-essentialist view of gender differences, a non-egalitarian gender ideology and a binary organization of the environment along gender lines. Finally, we consider means of intervention at different points in this cycle. This article is part of the theme issue 'The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms'.
|Journal||Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|State||Published - 12 Apr 2021|
- gender binary
- gender differences
- gender ideology