Differences and Similarities of Adolescent Gender Development

by Elizabeth Hall
During the adolescent stage males and females develop differently with different skills and at different times according to Berk (2010).  Current findings indicate that there are changes in the actual levels of turbulence once believed to occur at this stage of emotions and concepts as held by Pauletti & Perry (2011).  We will explore the differences and similarities between male and female gender development to discover what effects these changes have on adolescents.  These changes occur both cognitively and physically as the adolescent transitions from childhood 
Concept of gender differences
Concept of gender differences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
to adulthood including changes to self-concept, identity, sexual identity, maturity and physical skills. 
Differences and Similarities Male versus Female
Self-concept refers to the way we view ourselves as people (Berk, 2010).  This encompasses our morality and opinions of ourselves and our development shows both differences and similarities throughout our lifespans between the genders that are quite evident during the adolescent stage.  Differences include influences that can occur from gender stereotyping such as, boys share a lack of interest in emotional relationships but girls thrive on them.  Boys tend to be more self-assured and confident at this stage reports Pauletti and Perry (2011).  They tend to act more willing to explore new ideas.  Girls show higher on the neuroticism scale at this age than boys, while at the same time displaying more feelings, agreeableness, and overall friendliness. Both genders worry about their self-image, particularly when it comes to peer relationships and acceptance although girls worry about being slender and boys muscular.   Both genders reach higher levels of understanding concerning their morality Pauletti and Perry (2011) note.
Females show higher rates of confidence than boys on subjects dealing with art, reading, English, and social studies, whereas males are more confident with computers, math, and sports.  This ties into gender stereotyping as girls receive dolls and kitchen items to play with when boys get cars, and sports related toys at early ages. Berk (2010), notes that during this stage a sort of identity crisis is achieved while adolescents experiment with different things, friends, and ideas.  This is normal development as teens try to figure out who they are and where they fit in.
Girls at this age are more prone to eating disorders, depression, and rumination (Berk, 2010). Also girl’s self-esteem remains lower than boys at this stage. Both male and female adolescents are equally concerned about body image so self-esteem remains the same on that issue.  Peer relationships play a major part in identity for both genders.  The differences come in the form of activities that they share, boys share common activities and achievements where girl’s relationships take emotional approaches (Berk, 2010).
This stage encompasses the beginnings of sexual maturity, bringing with it hormonal and emotional changes (Geidd & Lenroot).  Social relationships group toward same sex activities and most differences will occur around peers rather than parents.  Pauletti and Perry (2011) report that girl’s activities contain more relationship oriented mindsets that include more intimate feelings with peers but also jealousy or co-rumination.  Boys’ activities consist of affable competition and risk taking activities, marked by control situations and able to express feelings and explore intimacy.
  Sexual gender identity is higher in males than females as boys strive hard to conform to gender expectations of identity holds Pauletti and Perry (2011).  Again this relates to stereotypical behavior.  Males receive encouragement to display tough behavior traits when girls receive direction to display tenderness, frilliness, and care.   Homosexual adolescents also differ in self-identification of sexual gender differences, as girls would more likely be open and boys more closed about the trait (Pauletti & Perry, 2011). 
During adolescence teens begin the process of gaining more maturity and adult thought processing.  Girls still mature roughly two years before boys.  They gain a bigger scope of the social structure of the world around them that moves them toward moral development (Berk, 2010).  The exposure to more situations and choices also plays a factor in maturity in the social world through mixed gender group activities, dating and same gender social relationships. 
Physical Skills
Both genders develop physically however, boys perform better with spatial tasks whereas girls perform higher in verbal tasks.  During this period of development boys develop athletically while girls develop emotionally.  Girls develop the ability to bear children.  Motor skill performance also develops in females (Berk, 2010). 
Adolescence is the period during which the person transforms from childhood to adulthood with physical, cognitive and emotional changes taking place.  During this time gender differences and similarities become more evident as teens develop morality, maturity, self-identity, sexual identity and gain a greater knowledge of the social structure of society around them.  Some of the major differences become most notable when adolescents socialize.  Stereotypes of the society around them plays a role in how the differences occur as they stick to their same gender groups for most all but dating activities with the exception of mixed group activities.  Further study could reveal that some of these differences could change to similarities if gender stereotyping were not a part of upbringing such as physical tasks, social mixing preferences and identity. 

Aspy, C., PhD, Gavin, L., PhD, Oman, R., PhD, Mueller, T., MPH, Rodine, S., MEd, Tolma, Eleni, PhD, & Vesley, PhD, (2010).  Youth Assets and Sexual Risk Behavior: Differences in Male and Female Adolescents.  Health Education Behavior, 2010, pp37:43. Sage Publications.  Retrieved From University of Phoenix Library
Berk, L.E., (2010).  Development through the Lifespan, Fifth Edition.  Pearson Education, United States.  ISBN 9870205687930. 
Giedd, J.N., & Lenroot, R.K., (2009).  Sex Differences in the Adolescent Brain.  Sciences Direct.  Brain and Cognition.  Elsevier.  Retrieved ‘From: University of Phoenix Library. 
Pauletti, R.E., & Perry, D.G., (2011).  Gender and Adolescent Development.  Journal of Research on Adolescence.  Vol, 21(1), pp 61-74.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00715.x  Retrieved From: University of Phoenix Library

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