The period of adolescent development can be difficult and exciting for either gender. Males and females develop different characteristics and different skills at different rates. Cognitive and physical development occurs very differently throughout adolescence depending on the individual’s gender as well as the individual themselves. Typical emotional development tends to be more similar between the sexes though it can vary depending upon each individual. We will explore the differences and similarities in these adolescent developments between the genders.
During adolescent the individual’s self-concept, or way they view themselves, begins to change and develop. The self-concept involves opinions of oneself as morality matures and changes show similarities as well as differences in development between the genders during the adolescent stage. As stated by Perry and Pauletti, both males and females begin to explore their self-image and worry about how what they project will be accepted . This worry rates higher concerning peer relationships and lower concerning parental acceptance. Females do put more emphasis on being slim while males place more importance on gaining muscle. Both genders gain higher understanding about their morality during adolescence as well. Differences surrounding the development of self-concept during adolescent are largely reliant on stereotyping. Boys group together, sharing a lack of interest in emotions or emotional relationships because they believe it is what is expected of them (2011). Females prosper amidst emotions and emotional relationships. During adolescence males are also inclined to be more confident than females as well as more adventurous. Females tend to be more friendly and agreeable during the development of self-concept but are also often more shy (2011).
Along with self-concept, identity begins to develop during adolescence, according to Frenzel, Goetz, Pekrum, and Watt in Development of Mathematics Interest in Adolescence, Influences of Family, and School Context . As mentioned, both females and males are equally worried about body image. Self-esteem is an issue that stresses both males and females at this time. Peer bonding and the forming of friendships play a large part in identity for both genders as well. The difference in peer bonding stems from the activities each genders share. Males join in sports and bond over achievements while females try to bond emotionally. Females gain confidence through academics as well and show more self-assurance than boys, especially in subjects such as reading, English, and social studies (2010). Males are more comfortable with math, sports, and technical information; this is another way they gain confidence. This is another effect of gender-stereotyping; males are more comfortable with sports and computers, having received cars and sports equipment from an early age, while girls were gender stereotyped by receiving dolls and books. Perry and Pauletti surveyed that as each sex partakes in things that gives them confidence they feel more comfortable exploring new things. As the adolescent investigates new friends and ideas an identity crisis can occur, which is a normal part of the development during this stage as the individual attempts to fit in (2010). During this stage of explorations females self-esteem remains permanently lower than that of males. They are also more susceptible to depression as well as eating disorders.
A very important part of the adolescent stage that represents many changes and similarities between the genders is sexual maturity. The bulk of sexual maturity concerns emotional and hormonal changes. Studies shown in Gender Differences and Similarities in Adolescents’ Ways of Coping by Bettina Piko, most of these changes will occur around friends and within peer relationships, not parental relationships as most activities begin to be same-sex exclusive (2001)
. Male activities include friendly, easygoing competition or risky activities that test boundaries. Sometimes the activities allow the males to express their feelings without appearing weak to their peers, damaging their self-concept. Female activities are typical oriented toward relationship bonding and include freely expressing emotions and intimacy, according to Slater and Tiggeman These activities can also include resentment and distrust. As sexual maturity develops a sexual identity emerges during adolescence. Sexual gender identity is lower in females than males. It is postulated that this is because males try harder to imitate the gender stereotypes society expects of them, therefore making it easier for them to develop of sexual gender identity (2011). Females are directed to exhibit a maternal, nurturing instinct while males are encouraged to act tough and brave (2001).
Maturity and adult though processing begins to develop further during adolescence. Teens begin to think beyond the present into the future and start assessing consequences and well as upcoming gains. Normally females mature two to three years before males (2010). Females are able to gain a firmer grasp of the social structure around them as they construct their own moral development. Males will catch up but they are slower to recognize the social structure they are surrounded by. Experience plays a role in the individual’s recognition of the world around them. Through peer relationships, dating, and group activities involving both genders, individuals can gain a quicker, broader perspective and mature more quickly (.
Though there are many changes during adolescence involving emotions and self-awareness there are also physical changes that occur. The age of adolescence is a period of rapid time for physical changes. Growth spurts typically happen between the ages of 11 and 13 in females, and 13 and 15 in males, usually following sexual maturation (2001). During this time the musculoskeletal and neurological systems have developed past the stage of childhood, allowing the individual to run and jump. During adolescence practice to attain ultimate development of these skills can begin. Typically males are more talented than females in these displays of gross motor skills. Males will continue to improve these gross motor skills until early adulthood while female improvement will often slow by the age of 15. This is often a result of decreased physical activity. Females may lack progress when it comes to gross motor skills but they exceed the progress males make concerning fine motor skills.
Adolescence is a dramatic for change. Many changes take place both in the mind as well as in the body. Self-concept and maturity develop during this period. Teens are also able to develop and refine their gross motor skills. Though many things are different for each gender it is clear that peer bonding is an important part of adolescence for both males and females. Maturity will progress for each gender as both enter early adulthood on a level playing field, happy to have put the most tumultuous part of growing up behind them.
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Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., Pekrum, R., & Watt, H. M. (2010). Development of Mathematics Interest in Adolescence: Influences of Gender, Family, and School Context. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 507-537.
Perry, D. G., & Pauletti, R. E. (2011). Gender and Adolescent Development. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 61-74.
Piko, B. (2001). Gender Differences and Similarites in Adolescents’ Ways of Coping.
Slater, A., & Tiggeman, M. (2011). Gender Differences in Adolescent Sport Participation, Teasing, Self-Objectification and Body Image Concerns. Journal of Adolesence, 455-463.