Difference Between Gender and Sex (With Table)

Biology is a very broad subject, and it is a part of natural science. It studies that how there was the evolution of life on earth. It tells about all the living organism, their growth, reproduction, locomotion, regulation etc. Gender and sex is a biological term and comes under the domain of biology. Sex is something that can be determined in humans, animals, cells etc. 

Gender vs Sex

The difference between Gender and Sex is that Sex is something that is assigned by birth. It can be male or female. While Gender is a social construct, and here differentiation is according to how a person feels about itself, whether masculine or feminine. Sex is a rigid term that can’t be changed, while Gender is a flexible term and can be changed depending upon various factors.

Gender is always differentiated on the parameters of masculinity and femininity. It is a social construct created by societal norms. It is unique in human beings only. Depending upon the context, it can have various features ranging from gender equality to biological sex to social structure. Many consider gender important for social organization. Various branch of science is dedicated to gender like sexology, neuroscience, gender studies etc.

Sex is a biological trait that is determined by reproductive function, i.e., female or male. In all living organisms, whether it be plants, animals, cells, humans, etc., it propagates through sexual reproduction. Sex is determined genetically. Chromosomes and X-factor plays an important role in it. Male Mammals have X and Y chromosomes, whereas female mammals have X and X chromosomes. The environment also plays a crucial role in determining the sex of crustaceans and reptiles.

Comparison Table Between Gender and Sex

Parameters of ComparisonGenderSex
Definition  It refers to cultural and social differences.It refers to psychological and biological differences.
CategoriesMasculine and feminineMale and female
Created bySocial normsReproduction
Rigid/flexibleFlexible may differRigid remains same
ExampleBoth men and women can work as labourers, teachers etc.Only Women can give birth.

What is Gender?

The term Gender comes from the Middle English word ‘gender’, which is taken from Anglo-Norman and Middle French. Gender means to sort, type, kind etc. In the ancient world, gender as a word or term was not understood. Gender as a concept is very recent in the modern world, and it became prevalent as a cultural construct in the 1950s and 60s. John Money, a sexologist for the first time in the year 1955, made a distinction between gender and biological sex.

Gender is differentiated according to femininity and masculinity. It is very important for the social organization as it is a social construct. The gender binary is also used to classify gender and divides it into girls and women or men and boys. Those who fall outside of the category of gender binary are called non-binary or genderqueer. The concept of gender and feminist theory became prevalent in the 1970s, and WHO also made a distinction between the two(gender and sex).

Social Science incorporates gender studies as a branch. Neuroscience and sexology also are interested in this field. In literature, Gender plays a crucial role, and there is a trichotomy between psychological gender, biological sex, and social gender role. Gender inequality can be seen all over the world. Because of gender, there is a distinction between a man and a woman. Women suffer most because of gender and its role as it is described according to societal norms.

What is Sex?

Sex is a genetically determined term that refers to biological and psychological differences. It is categorised as male and female. It happens to all organisms, whether humans or non-humans. In plants and animals, sex is determined through the process of reproduction. What type of gametes are produced by a species determines its sex. For example, male organisms produce smaller gametes, also called spermatozoa or sperm, and female organisms produce large gametes called ova or eggs.

The male or female of a species may have physical differences or can be similar. In mammals, sex is determined by XY sex-determination system, where female mammals have two chromosomes, i.e. XX, and male mammals have two chromosomes, i.e. XY. In birds, animals, other chromosomal distinctions can be seen, like the ZW system in birds, the X0 system in insects etc. For many species, the environment plays a crucial role, like temperature, which helps in the development.

Organisms that reproduce has a sex ratio of 1:1 of male and female birth. This was given by Ronald Fisher, also called Fisher’s principle. Differences of sex in humans can be determined by physical characteristics such as more body hair in men or wider hips and higher body fat in women etc., and organs involved in reproduction, i.e., testes in men and ovaries in women. In animals, it is usually seen that females are the majority of males.

Main Differences Between Gender and Sex

  1. Gender refers to cultural differences between males and females. Sex refers to biological differences determined by birth between men and women.
  2. Gender has two categories, masculine and feminine, and it is a broad term as it incorporates LGBT and Queer communities. Sex also has two categories, male and female, determined by birth.
  3. The distinction in Gender is created by societal norms. The distinction in Sex is created by reproduction which is a biological characteristic.
  4. Gender is a flexible term and can be changed according to culture and time. Sex is a rigid term and cannot be changed regardless of culture and time.
  5. Example of Gender includes, both men and women can work in the same field whether it be teachers, engineers etc. Example of Sex includes, only females can give birth, and only men can impregnate.

Conclusion

Both Gender and Sex are related to each other. But they are very different. In ancient times both were considered as equal. But in the modern era, both gender and sex were defined distinctly. Gender is very complex, multifaceted and unique to human beings. Sex is typically binary, rigid, simple and can’t be changed. Gender exists on a continuum, and a lot of factors like culture, race, ethnicity, politics, environment, experience, society can be attributed to it. Sex also has a lot of factors like chromosomes, hormones, biology, gene expression, anatomy, behaviour, which determines it. Gender is something with which a person is not born.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1007123617636
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/027753959390076L
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