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Prof Hines presents a seminar at King's College, London

last modified May 15, 2018 12:02 PM
Prof Melissa Hines from the GDRC presented a seminar on 'Human gender development: some current perspectives' at the Department of Psychology, King's College, London on 14 May 2018.

Currently, developmental scientists conceptualize gender-related behaviours as developing under the influence of numerous types of factors, interacting over time. The factors that are important include chromosomal sex, early exposure to gonadal (sex) steroids, external socialization by parents, peers, teachers, and others, and self-socialization, based on children’s developing understanding of their own gender and of societal attitudes about gender.

Professor Hines' research focuses largely on the influence of the sex hormone, testosterone, during early development on later gender-related behaviour, and on how these hormonal influences might interact with other types of influences.

The hypothesis that early testosterone exposure is important for human gender development derives from thousands of experimental studies in other mammals showing that prenatal or neonatal testosterone concentrations influence behaviours that differ on the average for male and female animals later in life.

Evidence from people exposed to unusual concentrations of testosterone prenatally, because of genetic syndromes, suggests that early testosterone exposure also influences human gender development, particularly gender identity, sexual orientation, and childhood gender-typed play. Researchers have also tried to relate normal variability in the early hormone environment to later gender-related behaviour. Recent research suggests that measuring the early postnatal testosterone surge, sometimes referred to as mini-puberty, in typically developing children may provide a reliable approach that could be used to investigate how early hormone differences interact with social and cognitive processes to influence human gender development.

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