(Sample Test Questions)



1.         The film, "Fight to be Male", suggested that gender identity (and, therefore, gender-related behavior) is caused by biological differences between males and females, especially differences in the structure of the female vs. male brains.


1.         true

2.         false


2.         One problem with a "cultural" explanation of gender-related behavior in the U.S. is that


1.         it cannot logically explain the different gender roles associated with professional women in Manhattan, working class women in Arkansas and suburban housewives in Ohio.

2.         it cannot account for the changes in gender-related behavior within the U.S. between 1950 and 2000.

3.         a constant cannot explain a variable.

4.         all of the above.



3.         Which of the following types of explanation would be classified as Galilean (as opposed to Aristotelian)?


1.         Explaining human warfare in terms of innate male aggressiveness

2.         Explaining male dominance in Latino communities in terms of “Machismo” (cultural values of male superiority)

3.         Racial explanations of high crime rates in urban areas.

4.         Explaining changes in the strucure of the family in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century and during the 1960’s as a consequence of changes in the economy and of the changing participation of men and women in the economy.

5.         Explanations of environmental problems in the U.S. based on the difference between “Western” vs. “Eastern” culture.


4.         Which of the following statements applies to the concept "Patriarchal Society"?


1.         It leads to Aristotelian rather than Galilean explanations.

2.         It cannot explain variation in gender-related behavior among societies classified as Patriarchal.

3.         A constant cannot explain a variable.

4.         Its utility is limited because there are very few truly patriarchal societies, as that term is operationally defined in anthropology.

5.         All of the above.


5.         Which of the following statements supports the notion that gender-related social behaviors are inherited biologically rather than learned?


1.         Israeli females score higher on standardized aggression tests than do American males.

2.         While rape is virtually unknown among the Pygmies of the Ituri Forest and the Ashante of West Africa, it is quite common among the Gusii of Kenya and in the United States.

3.         Maccoby and Jacklin found no consistent pattern of gender differences in emotional and intellectual characteristics as a result of their exhaustive review of studies of gender differences.

4.         Significant changes occurred in the economic role and social status of women among Plains Indian societies following the introduction of the horse, gun and bison hide trade.

5.         None of the above.


6.         Which of the following statements is least correct?

 1.        The high level of violence in gay and lesbian partnerships suggests that gender is not a very useful concept for explaining domestic violence.

2.         The high level of violence in gay and lesbian partnerships suggests that a more useful approach to the study of domestic violence than focusing on gender would be to focus on the nature of power relations within domestic partnerships.

3.         Since the majority of domestic violence cases reported to police involves male-on-female violence, research on domestic violence should concentrate on determining the biological factors that make men violent.

4.         Occam's Razor would suggest that using gender rather than power as the basis for explaining domestic violence would lead to a scientifically preferable explanation of domestic violence.

5.         One advantage of concentrating on power rather than gender as an underlying cause of domestic violence is that it would place the explanation of domestic violence within a broader theoretical perspective.  The study of domestic violence could potentially be understood as but one example of how differences in power result in the use and acceptance of  violence in specific social situations.

6.         3 and 4

7.         The problem with viewing homosexuality as a biological phenomenon is that

1.         we cannot explain the different forms that homosexual behavior takes in various societies

2.         we impose an ethnocentric Western view of homosexuality on non-Western societies

3.         we treat homosexuality as a single thing when, in fact, it is different things in different societies.

4.         we cannot explain those situations in which homosexuality is part of the normal life cycle of heterosexual males.

5.         we apply an Aristotelian approach to the study of homosexual behavior.

6.         all of the above

8.         The following is a quote from Mary Pipher's book, Reviving Ophelia:

Our minds, which are shaped by the society in which we live, can oppress us.  . . .


Adolescent clients intrigue me as they struggle to sort themselves out.  But I wouldn't have written this book had it not been for these last few years when my office has been filled with girls:  girls with eating disorders, alcohol problems, posttraumatic stress reactions to sexual or physical assaults, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), self-inflicted injuries and strange phobias, and girls who have tried to kill themselves or run away.  A health department survey showed that 40 percent of all girls in my midwestern city considered suicide last year.  The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reports that the suicide rate among children age ten to fourteen rose 75 percent between 1979 and 1988.  Something dramatic is happening to adolescent girls in America, something unnoticed by those not on the front lines.


Many of the pressures girls have always faced are intensified in the 1990s.  Many things contribute to this intensification:  more divorced families, chemical addictions, casual sex and violence against women.  Because of the media, which Clarence page calls "electronic wallpaper," girls all live in one big town  --a sleazy, dangerous tinsel town with lots of liquor stores and few protected spaces.  Increasingly, women have been sexualized and objectified, their bodies marketed to sell tractors and toothpaste.


 Which of the following statements about Pipher’s analysis is incorrect?


1.         If we follow the basic scientific statement, "given a, . . . then b.", Pipher’s discussion in Reviving Ophelia would suggest that the suicide rate of young girls is higher than that of young boys.

2.         The implication for the relative mental health of girls (as opposed to boys) of Pipher’s statement that 40% of the girls in her town considered suicide cannot be determined because Pipher only gives us the percentage of girls in her town that "considered suicide".  She does not give us comparable data for boys.

3.         Pipher’s concluding statement does not follow from her first two statements.  She begins with a statement about girls considering suicide; follows this with a statement about the suicide rate among children (not just girls) and then concludes with a statement about what this means for the emotional health specifically of girls.

4.         The available data on suicide supports Pipher’s thesis regarding the role of the media in placing disproportionate pressures on young girls.  Women are dying and committing suicide at a higher rate then men, and those rates have been increasing faster among women than among men.

9.         Gallagher ("Gay for the Thrill of It") argues that genes explain male homosexuality far more than they do female homosexuality.  He bases his position on the following data:

1.         According to one study, the sister of a lesbian had a 6% chance of being a lesbian herself.

2.         According to another study, there was a 33% correlation between lesbian mothers and daughters.

3.         33 out of 40 pairs of gay brothers carried the "gay marker" gene.


Which of the following methodological problems is associated with Gallagher's conclusions?


1.         While he states that lesbians have only a 6% chance of having a lesbian sister, he does not present comparable data for gay males. His statement that 33 out of 40 pairs of gay brothers carried the "gay marker" gene cannot be compared to the fact that only 6% of lesbians had lesbian sisters because the statement indicates only that 33 pairs of gay brothers in this study shared a particular gene, not that 33 out of 40 gay males had gay brothers.

2.         A 33% correlation between lesbian mothers and daughters tells us nothing about the role of genes because it is not possible, based on that data given, to distinguish between social and biological factors influencing gender identity in this context.

3.         The data on lesbian mothers and daughters tells us nothing about sex differences in the genetic basis of homosexuality because no data is given on the correlation between gay men and sons to which we can compare the lesbian mother/daughter findings.

4.         1 and 3

5.         all of the above

10.       According to Fausto-Sterling, prejudice against homosexuality increased during the 20th century in conjunction with increasing knowledge of the functioning of sexual systems.  This suggests that, from a sociological perspective, 

1.         prejudice against homosexuals resulted largely from ignorance about homosexuality.

2.         the existence of prejudice against homosexuals in a society can best be explained psychologically.

3.         a decline in social prejudice against homosexuality in the U.S. can best be explained as a result of increased education about homosexuals.

4.         the decline in prejudice against homosexuals in the U.S. likely has less to do with ignorance and more to do with changing gender roles in the U.S. and the effect that these changes have had on the definition of and attitudes towards alternate forms of gender-related behavior.

11.       Lawrence Kuznar  has stated that "a concern with knowing the world, rather than advocating a view of the world because it confirms some political, ideological, or religious project, has always been fundamental to scientific philosophy."  Which of the following examples best fits Kuznar's definition?

1.         The Reverend Lundmark's piece on "Evolution --Sheer Nonsense" from the Morning Call in which he uses quotes by the Presidents of Harvard and Lehigh Universities to attack the concept of evolution.

2.         A faculty member who believes that a teacher should not give students all of the facts because it might keep them from being politically active.

3.         A teacher who uses the film "Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America" in his/her classes to show the negative effect that schools can have on young girls despite reading Christine Hoff Sommers' critique of the AAUP research, because he/she did not like Sommers' attitude.

4.         A researcher who, having collected careful quantitative data on female labor and on the amount of food acquired by women in several hunting and gathering populations, suggests that anthropology must revamp its notions about gender relations in hunter-gatherer societies due to the fact that on average between 60-80% of the food consumed by most foraging societies is produced by women.

5.         A social scientist that rejects Sommers' critique of the AAUW self-esteem s tudy on the grounds that Sommers' is an "anti-feminist."

6.         a speaker who does not want to include studies of husband battering or of violence in gay and lesbian partnerships in a presentation on domestic violence because it distracts from his/her desire to present women as the victims of domestic abuse.

12.       Which of the following statements is the most correct regarding Ecofeminism?

1.         Ecofeminism is a quantitative, scientifically based analysis of the relationship between women and the environment that has contributed measurably to our understanding of contemporary environmental issues.

2.         Ecofeminist research and methodology has advanced our understanding of human environmental relations because its methods and principles link so well with those of general ecology.

3.         Ecofeminism is Aristotelian in that it essentializes women by claiming that women have a "special way of knowing" that is different from men.

4.         In the discussion of human-environment relations, the principle of Occam's Razor would favor Ecofeminism as an approach to the study of human-environment relations



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(Sample Essay Questions)


1.        There are a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of gender-related behavior. You have been introduced to a few of them.  Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages associated with applying multiple paradigms to the study of gender-related behavior vs. developing a single explanatory model of gender behavior.  What are some of the methodological issues associated with adopting a single paradigm vs. adopting a multiple-paradigm approach?  If you were going to opt for one paradigm, what criteria would you use to determine which paradigm you would choose?  If you opt for a multi-paradigmatic approach, where and how would you draw the line of inclusion vs. exclusion?  what criteria would you use to determine which different approaches would be included and which would not be included, or would all approaches be considered equally valid?


2.        The study of gender-related behavior presumes that sex and gender can be defined for purposes of study. Many studies purport to show that certain behaviors are typically male, while other behaviors are more commonly associated with females.  What are some of the conceptual problems inherent in such studies?  In other words, how does variation in sex and gender (in the U.S. and cross-culturally) compromise the validity of such research claims?  What other problems are associated with such claims?  What type of data would lend support such claims?


3.        Sociobiologists (a.k.a.: behavioral ecologists and evolutionary psychologists) claim that many prominant social behaviors are the evolutionary consequence of genetic selection.  Those behaviors which advance individual reproductive fitness are selected for, while those that do not are selected a gainst.  When applied to sex-related behavior, sociobiologist argue that: (1) inherent male and female behaviors exists, and (2) that such behaviors stem from the different mating strategies that males and females must employ within sexually reproducing species. Moreover, they argue that these two statements relate to humans as well as non-human species and that they account for the fact that men and women perform similar roles in many diverse sociaties, including the fact that men are more promiscuous than women, that women are more selective in theior mating choices, that women assume the more nurturing roles and that men assume the more dominant and aggressive roles.  Evaluate the sociobiological argument, not just empirically, but methodologically.


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Gender Syllabus





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