Couple defies gender stereotype

By Nathan Dicamillo, Sports Editor

When it comes to psychological attributes, we are relatively similar. 

“We do not really fit these stereotypes,” he said. “I’d say I’m definitely not the dominant figure in our relationship.”
She said that he’s sometimes more emotional than she is.

“I do enjoy being able to do stuff for myself, I’ve always been independent,” she said.

Sophomores Nathanael Smith and Tatiana Gonzalez are in a nonconforming relationships where gender role stereotypes are “not cool” and are just “assumptions.” Science agrees with them.

According to a press release from Iowa State University, ISU associate professor of psychology, Zlatan Krizan, said that gender stereotypes cause society to believe that gender differences are wide.

Krizan and colleagues Ethan Zell, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Sabrina Teeter, a graduate student at Western Carolina University conducted a meta-synthesis of more than 100 met-analyses of gender differences. Combined, the studies they aggregated included more than 12 million people.

Published in the American Psychologist, the study produced an almost 80 percent overlap for more than 75 percent of the psychological characteristics—traits like risk taking, occupational stress and morality.

“This is important because it suggests that when it comes to most psychological attributes, we are relatively similar to one another as men and women,” Krizan said. “This was true regardless of whether we looked at cognitive domains, such as intelligence; social personality domains, such as personality traits; or at well-being, such as satisfaction with life.”

There were ten attributes where researchers found men and women to be significantly different. For example, men were more aggressive and women had closer attachment to friends and were more sensitive to pain. On the far end of the spectrum the differences are often exaggerated, and as people notice the extremes they overestimate the differences, Krizan said.

“If you look at incarceration rates to compare the aggressiveness of men and women, the fact that men constitute the vast majority of the prison population supports the idea that men are more aggressive. However, it’s a misleading estimate of how much typical men and women differ on aggressiveness, if that’s the only thing you look at for comparison,” he said.

“People always think about men as always having to be the strict one, they have to be strong, while people think that women are frail and that is their only purpose to reproduce.” —Sophomore Tatiana Gonzalez

People use the collective differences—no matter how wide—as a way to develop a framework for gender gap generalizations. Given any one trait by itself,  however, the difference is small.

Although it may be said that men come from Mars and women from Venus, these findings remind us that we all come from Earth, he said.

Researchers point out that they did not try to determine to what extent these differences reflect real, physical or biological differences between genders. Some behavioral differences may be learned through social roles. For example, men tolerating more pain because they believe that’s what a man should do.

Smith believes that even while change is coming, gender roles still exist in our society.

“I’d say that society in general still expects men to be slightly more dominant that women, even with the widespread effects of the feminist movement,” Smith said. “Men are typically expected to be more career oriented; women are expected to be more family oriented.”

Men being unable to show emotion and women being unable to be stoic are gender roles that Gonzalez sees as a problem in society.

“People think about men as always having to be the strict one, they have to be strong,” Gonzalez said. “While people think that women are frail and that their only purpose is to reproduce.”

Smith believes that gender roles are “slowly disappearing” from society, but Gonzalez is not so sure.

“They are kind of going away,” Gonzalez said. “I think that there are new ones appearing all the time, ones that have been created by a whole new generation.”

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