Popular perceptions of sex differences—lately embodied in the Reagan era’s “gender gap”—too often are based on presupposed innate attributes or those set early in life. This division of the world into men’s and women’s roles has generated invidious comparisons: the male is typically considered strong, courageous, logical, the more dependable and competent in work situations, the more gifted in intellectual, scholarly, or artistic pursuits; the female the weaker (the “weaker sex”), more erratic in work situations, tending to be guided by emotions. Such splintered thinking that recasts the world in male and female categories
has long seemed “right”; it appears in all societies, from the most primitive to the most modern.
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