A World of Difference: Gender Roles in Perspective


356 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-471-79862-2




Reviewed by Grace Skogstad

Grace Skogstad taught at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S.


A World of Difference, by Dr. Greenglass, a member of the Department of Psychology of York University, is an interesting and thought-provoking discussion of the sources, nature, and impact of gender role differences. The author describes her approach as “a feminist social psychological one”; she argues that women’s behaviour (like men’s) “is often the expression of unquestioned gender-role stereotypes that are imposed on the individual.” To document her claim, Greenglass examines a number of different possible sources of sex role differences: the contrasting socialization of boys and girls by parents, the media, peers, and the educational system; and sex differences in biological makeup, human sexuality, and cognitive ability and achievement. A discussion of the contrasting roles of men and women in the family and work place summarizes familiar data and reaches anticipated conclusions. The penultimate chapter, written with William McDonald, probes the nature of mental disorders of men and women and postulates their links in imposed role behaviours.

Greenglass’s position is not to dismiss the reality of differences between men and women, but to implore us not to judge as inferior those characteristics predominant to women, and to recognize that women’s limited presence in the upper professional, artistic, and academic echelons owes less to women’s lesser capabilities than to factors of socialization and social-political barriers. A World of Difference is a serious academic work; it is carefully researched, well substantiated, cogently argued. But it is a book for the lay reader as well, being eminently readable and cartoon-laced. It is a must for anyone who has even asked why women and men behave differently. It is a tonic more beneficial than a prescription for Valium for those women and men trying to cope with lifestyles and expectations that they find inappropriate or debilitating.


Greenglass, Esther R., “A World of Difference: Gender Roles in Perspective,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/39004.