In history, the differences existing between men and women have been a captivating research area for many academic scholars and psychologists. The obvious reasons’ are that men and women are different in obvious ways not only based on their anatomical differences but other ways such as their conversations, leadership, feelings and emotions and the activities they engage in. Conformity refers to the act of changing or matching beliefs, attitudes, or behavior of a given group to that of an individual or societal influence. The society dictates certain rules that ought to be followed by people while guiding their social interactions.
In one such study by Nord (1969), he galvanized the theory that women are opposed to women displaying more conforming behavior in social situations than their male counterparts. In advancing the social theory in relation to different conformity levels, Eagly (1987) stated that the social conditioning expects males and females act, perform and behave in a particular way in given situations. For instance, women were expected to do house chores like cooking, cleaning, washing and looking after the children while men were expected to take care of the family through doing manly chores. Conformity in gender thus depended on societal expectations as opposed to what an individual would want to do. However, both men and women conformed equally to gender neutral tasks, despite females showed more conformity in tasks that included male-oriented items (Eagly, 1987).
According to Brewer (2003), he asserts that people create an optimal balance between being similar to, and different from other people. In this regard, people who have low self-esteem are more likely to conform in comparison with those who have a higher self-esteem (Brewer, 2003). In relation to gender, self-esteem issues are the same in both men and women depending on their levels of self-esteem. In regard to conformity to social pressures, women are inclined to conform more than men in given social situations and that men are more likely to elicit conforming behavior in women (Craig & Sherif, 1986). For instance of a man is in an influential position that the females then they are likely to influence conforming behavior, however this is conversely true in women that is when women are in a predominantly male group they show less influence than when males are in a predominantly female group (Craig & Sherif, 1986).
In most literature, there is a growing conclusion that there exist small differences between men and women in the levels of conformity they exhibit, however this differences exists because of societal differences if it occurs by gender differences. Men and women have different self-concerns level that is men are concerned about being perceived as having a high status and demonstrates it by acting independently from others opinions. Women on the other hand are concerned about connecting with others and maintenance of group harmonies. In this case men are likely to act independently, refuse to conform, while women are likely to conform to others opinions to prevent a social disagreement. However, the differences are less pronounced if the conformity occurs privately (Eagly, 1983).
The social explanations for gender differences in conformity that are women having the tendencies of being caring however men fail to conform in trying to demonstrate that they are good mates. Goldstein et al. (2006) studies found out that men but not women primed with thoughts about romance were less likely to conform to others opinions than men primed to think of romantic attractions. In relation t gender conformity in conversations, men ate and women are less likely to conform on topics they are familiar and knowledgeable in as opposed to unfamiliar topics (Eagly, 1983). For instance, men are likely to conform in sports topics while women in fashion.
Age as a factor influences the conformity levels in males and females. For instance, in a study, it was shown that post-menopausal women and men within the same age group show similar conformity levels. However, there was no proof of whether females in their reproductive prime conform to the rules of society readily as men in their same age group (Brewer, 2003). Elderly people both men and women show the same levels of conformity compared to females and males of a younger group or generation. Moreover, those who have attained a higher level of learning a more susceptible to conformity tendencies in both males and females because they are used to sticking to rules, guidelines and timelines (Brewer, 2003).
Down memory lane, men have always been perceived as more effective leaders as opposed to women. The evaluation pursued by Rojan & Willemsen (1994) stated that in different cultures , men are more likely to be leaders as well as in high-level administrative roles in businesses and organizations. Coincidentally women are less likely to be promoted to high levels of leadership as opposed to men even if actual performance is taken into consideration.
Additionally critics of gender differences in conformity suggest that men treated as a gender group have a higher status than women a subject attributed to societal perceptions, norms and ruled. This is because the men have a tendency of reflecting masculine traits that are more favorable when evaluated with those traits possessed by women (Eagly, 1987). In many instances especially in chauvinistic or male dominated societies, status plays a role in molding behavior since women tend to attain a high status through approval and acceptance from society through engaging in positive behavior so that the people achieve their roles (Meeker & Weitzel-O’Neil, 1997).
In humans, there is a tendency that each sex: male or female tends to appear, act and look at things in a different ways. Men for instance have a tendency of being larger than females, and that society has sought to equate largeness with men while females to be small (Eagle, 1987). Sex dimorphism women prefer having men with larger bodies, a V-shaped Torsi and a large upper body muscle and due to these men prefer to enhance their upper bodies in working out. The very physique of both men and women leads them to conform to different behaviors especially if the member of the opposite sex prefers that shape our society dictate them to be so.
In conclusion, women are more likely to conform more than men, although the differences are limited depending on the situations whether a public or private. There is no literature that supports men being more able leaders than men however, men tend to lead at tasks that are masculine in a sense that they require the ability to direct or control people. Women on the other hand perform intakes that are ‘feminine’ in nature.
Brewer, M.B. (2003). Optimal distinctiveness, social identity, and the self. In M.R. Leary & J.P. Tangney (Eds), Handbook of Self Identity (pp. 480-491). New York, NY: Guilford Press
Craig, J. M. & Carolyn, W. S. (1986). The effectiveness of men and women in problem- solving groups as a function of group gender composition. Sex Roles 14,7-8
Eagly, A.H. (1983). Gender and social influence: A social psychological analysis. American Psychologist, 38,971-981
Goldstein, N.J., Mortsen, C.R., Cialdini, R.B., & Kenrick, D.T. (2006). Going along versus going alone: When fundamental motives facilitate strategic (non) conformity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 91, pp. 281-294
Meeker, B.F. & P.A. Weitzel-O’Neill, (1977). Sex Roles and Interpersonal Behavior in Task Oriented Groups. American Sociological Review, 42 (pp. 91-105)
Nord, W. R. (1969) Social exchange theory: An integrative approach to social conformity. Psychological Bulletin,71, 174-208.
Rojahn, K., & Willemsen, T. M. (1994). The evaluation of effectiveness and likability of gender-role congruent and gender-role incongruent leaders. Sex Roles, 30, 109–119;