Nature vs nurture. A debate that has spanned history and ancient societies, and many park bench conversations that got a little too deep for a sunday afternoon. Many somewhat philosophical topics have fallen victim to this debate, topics such as, political views, culture and socialisation. But the question which concerns this debate that I find particularly captivating, is whether gender is a matter of nature or nurture.

On first glance, we might assume that gender, and the roles which men and women are expected to play in our society, is a result of nature. The sex which we are assigned at birth is determined by a variation in a single chromosome which ultimately decides how we will be treated during our lifetimes. Or simply, whether we are male or female.

One natural factor which suggests that gender is something that has a biological basis is the differences in male and female hormones. These hormones may cause belief that we act alongside the gender roles and stereotypes that we are assigned at birth. 

The female hormone oestrogen is linked to mood distributions that occur only in women, which include: premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and postpartum depression. These biological factors may lead to societal misconceptions of female emotion, creating the idea of the sensitive and dependent woman.

The same can also be said for men. Increased levels of the male hormone testosterone is associated with increases in physical aggression and anger. Which may lead to societal misconceptions of male behaviour as being hostile and belligerant. 

These biological factors act as a cheerleader to the nature side of this battle of the gender reinforcer. But, I would actually take the side of the opposing team, and say that nurture arguably plays a greater role to the creation of the modern, human understanding of gender. 

To assume gender is solely caused by the differences in the male and female hormones would be a catastrophic understatement, as there is substantial evidence of an environmental impact to gender. We observe this frequently in our day-to-day lives, probably without even realising at this point, we've become so used to it, we're definetly somewhat numb to this burden of gender stereotypes. 

As I have grown up with an older brother, to obseve the differences in how our society treats men and women (or little boys and little girls, which sadly may be more appropriate considering that socialisation takes place from a very young age), I have to look no further than the toys which we played with as children. Each time me and my brother were brought to the greatly desired paradise that is a toy shop, it was evidentally clear which side I should've gone to, and which side he should've gone to. The sections, usually immediately differentiated by the classically gendered colours of blue and pink, had toys which were clearly intended for either girls or boys, never both. 

The girls section typically included Barbies, cuddly toys and animals which we were meant to care for. The boys section was full of action figures, toy weapons and occupational themed toys such as police badges. Me and my brother tended to adapt our playing to suit each other, which typically resulted in a zombie apocalypse acted out by my Barbies, but it seemed obvious that normal toys (not my apocalyptic Barbie dolls) were distinctly gendered. 

Think about how this distinction might lead to societal gender norms in careers. I know it seems a little bit silly to rest your entire career path, in your adult life, to the toys which you played with as a 6 year old, but I promise you that this isn't an absurd conclusion. Many careers are thought of as traditionally male or female. This is something that we can all somewhat agree on or at least acknowledge. This is also something which we can see evidence of in children's toys. 

The toys which I can remember playing with, and I'll admit it doesn't feel like that long since I was a child, included Barbies, baby dolls and kitchen sets. These predispositioned me to a life as a housewife, a carer, a nurse, a cook or a mum. The toys which my brother played with such as Lego, police paraphernalia, science sets and dinosaur expedition kits gave him prospects of becoming a scientist, a police officer, an architect or an archeologist. Why do children have to be taught that they should lean towards a certain career just because of the chromosomes they possess at all?

If the toys which we played with as children had such a great influence on how we believe we are expected to behave in our adult lives, it becomes logical that gender is a matter of nurture over nature. At least in my personal experience, which was centered around the believed obligation to follow the pink in the toy shop.