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Gender, Social Exclusion and Technology

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This will also be manifest when the member of one socially defined gender is involved in any type of interaction with the own gender or another gender such as when a man works with men or with women. This happens because such types of differing behavior are learned through stereotyping and modeling and reinforced again and again by the constant examples that an individual comes across in society. Two different perspectives suggested by Bohan (1993, pp. 6) can be used to explain the differences between boys and girls – the theories of Essentialism and Constructionism.

Essentialism is intrinsic to the individual and places the formation or origin of gender-specific attributes within the individual. Constructionism, on the other hand, looks at gender characteristics as a component of the actions and acts of the individual, extrinsic to the individual. Gender, in Constructionism, is therefore considered external to the self. From this perspective, the gender qualities cannot be said to be based on biological sex. According to Bohan, what the individual does when he interacts with others is gender, not what the individual possesses.

Essentialism, however, considers gender to be an intrinsic phenomenon -- a set of actions that individual possesses inherently. According to the constructionist perspective, the social realm is where gender is located. Gender is defined in terms of ‘ doing’ . Gender itself is defined as a routine, methodical and recurring accomplishment. To fit into the roles of being competent members of the society, men and women convert the ‘ doing’ of gender into action. When gender is viewed in this perspective, it is not some genetic traits or roles that we possess biologically but is rather an output of social influence that is manifested by what we do or how we behave.

Gender is, therefore, an active rather than a passive concept. Examples of ‘ doing’ gender abound in common day-to-day experiences. When men and women dress differently when the facilities for men and women are different – such as having different washrooms – when men have stag parties and women have bridal showers, when we frown at men crying but accept the same act as womanly – we are actually ‘ doing’ gender

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