Compare biological and psychological explanations of gender development. 25 marks
The biological explanation of gender development enforces the idea that the role of genes and hormones are the main contributors towards the development of a child’s gender. Genetically, the 23rd pair of chromosomes in each individual determines the sex of the embryo, this is usually about six weeks after conception as the genes determine whether the gonadal ridges develop into testes or ovaries. At this time the Y chromosome triggers the synthesis of the H-Y antigen, a protein which causes the gonadal ridges to grow into testes. If this protein is injected into a female foetus at 6 weeks, the result is a genetic female with testes and if drugs blocking H-Y antigen are injected into a genetic male at this time, the result would be a genetic male with ovaries. Therefore the action of genes and hormones are interrelated. In a genetically male embryo, the testes release testosterone which is believed to impact brain development. Geschwind and Galaburda (1987) noticed that in males the right side of the brain develops earlier than the left side, development being especially slow near the Wernicke’s area (concerned with language). This could explain why men tend to have superior spatial abilities and women have superior verbal abilities.