Gender Social Construction Theory Explanation

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 3
Words: 573
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: School


From the perspective of social construction theory, gender is a social construct that some people confuse for biological realities. According to the theory, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the biological sex and the actual gender defined by society. The idea of gender being socially constructed means that gender roles are constituted by social relations, outside of which they cannot exist. Social constructivism denies the existence of natural laws in the social, economic, and political spheres.

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Main body

Gender definitions may vary in terms of historical context, culture, and an individual’s life cycle. They are formed through interactions with other people and within social institutions. The social construction of gender relies on processes of socialization, where a person learns what appropriate habits and values are and how he or she is supposed to behave. Such social agents as family, education, religion, peer groups, and media define who people are about gender. Most religious and educational institutions are dedicated to teaching us how to be men and women. For example, men are encouraged to be masculine, breadwinner, and strong, while women are supposed to be feminine, domestic, and weak. Mismatch of human behavior with a gender role is condemned.

Representation is the key concept within the social construction theory of gender. Representations of masculinity and femininity reproduced in everyday life by social institutions form gender roles and, consequently, influence human life. There may be an explanation of why women are less successful in mathematics than men. There is a widespread opinion that there is no need for girls to pay much attention to mathematics. Women consider mathematics to be inappropriate for their gender roles. As a result, they refuse to do it even if they show excellent abilities in the area. The example illustrates that many differences between men and women are due to social factors.

Gender and Intersectionality Theory

The intersectional theory is a mode of perceiving social relations by considering intersecting forms of oppression. This means acceptance that social reality is complicated and that many oppression forms like racism, sexism, cisgenderism, colorism, sizeism and ageism might be real at the same time in a person’s life. The intersectional theory is based on the recognition of the plurality of these identities. An intersectional person is someone who is a part of several marginalized communities. Some intersectional people are being women and black, being old and disabled, and being Chinese and lesbian. Gender, class, and race/ethnicity are recognized as the most significant identities of differentiation and stratification in society, reproduced in most contexts. When such oppressions as sexism, heterosexism, racism, and ageism are brought together, the person’s level of oppression is doubled. Today, the theory claims to be an idea that unites all movements for minority rights.


Intersectionalism as a brunch of gender and feminism studies has been developing since the second half of the 1980s. From that time, gender differences are no longer seen as dichotomous relationships between masculine and feminine, masculinity, and femininity. The identities, such as race, age, sexual orientation, and level of well-being, are taken into account as well when considering the gender perspective. For example, it is generally believed that to be “normal”, people are expected to be straight, cisgender, i. e. identifying with the gender given at birth, raised in a nuclear family, and married at an “appropriate” age. Thus, social acceptance is contingent on not just gender and sexuality, but also age, and economic status.