CULTURAL GENDER DIFFERENCES IN TODAY'S SOCIETY
This research paper discusses the origin and significance of cultural gender differences in contemporary society. As the human species as evolved over time, significant differences between the male and female genders have developed due to a combination of, and the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Those differences have been the subject of every day observation and societal judgment, as epitomized by the French saying, vive la difference! The roles of males and females have undergone a confusing transformation in recent decades which has stimulated serious scientific and other research into the origins, cultural outcomes and significance of these differences. This essay attempts to present a balanced summary of the results of that research. Its theses are that: (1) as this research deepens human understanding of gender-differences, society will be afforded the opportunity to break with the rigid gender stereotypes of the past and to fashion new roles for each sex that correspond more closely to their respective needs and society's; but also that (ii) this process of societal change will unfold fitfully and be accompanied by considerable cultural and political conflict and uncertainty.
At the core of the current scientific, cultural and political controversy over gender-differences lies the question as to whether and what degree they are the result of innate or inherited factors or of environmental/social factors, the so-called nature/nurture debate.
In addressing this issue, the pursuit of scientific research and the validity of its findings are hampered not only by the usual barriers to any research such as sampling and testing errors and the need of researchers to rely to a large extent on experiments with animals other than humans but also by the accumulated ignorance, a priori assumptions, notions and biases that have built up over the centuries.