Gender means 'type'. It is a word commonly used for a person's sex (male or female). When people use the word gender in this way, it is often because sex has many other meanings, making it hard to understand.
Definitions and historyEdit
"Gender" comes from the Latin word genus which meant "kind" or "type". In the few hundred years before the 1950s, the term 'gender' was used only in the field of grammar. In 1955, a scientist began to use the word gender in new ways when referring to people, in a way that was related to their 'sex' but not quite the same.
Before the 1950s, the term 'gender' was used only in the field of grammar, and only to distinguish a category of words that are called 'feminine nouns' from other words that are 'masculine nouns'. Early Indo-European languages~had three genders. Languages that come from Latin like Spanish, French, and Italian have lost one, and their nouns are either feminine or masculine in gender. For example, in Spanish, 'house' (casa) is feminine, and 'day' (día) is masculine. Some languages still have three genders, like German. Outside of their grammatical category, the word 'gender' was not used to refer to people. At that time, when one spoke about someone being either 'male' or 'female', the word used was sex.
In 1955, the meaning of the word gender began to change. A scientist studying the similarities and differences between men and women began to use the word gender in new ways, that referred to people's behavior. John Money created the term gender role and began to use it to mean something different from sex.
In social sciences, there is a difference between 'sex' and 'gender':
- Fowler's Modern English Usage, 1926: p. 211.
- Haig, David (April 2004). "The Inexorable Rise of Gender and the Decline of Sex: Social Change in Academic Titles, 1945–2001". Archives of Sexual Behavior 33 (2): 87–96. doi:10.1023/B:ASEB.0000014323.56281.0d. PMID 15146141. http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/haig/publications_files/04inexorablerise.pdf.