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Most books on the psychology of women are based on a Western perspective. International students and scholars question the validity and relevance of the theories and practices that focus on a restricted population of women and ignore the diverse experience among women within and across countries based on the intersection of sex, gender, sexuality, and social locations. How can we have a universal psychology of women that routinely ignores most of the women in the world? To answer this question, we assembled teams of writers from different regions of the world or familiar with different cultures. We realized that some regions of the world may not have enough quality psychological research to be represented, but we strived to get as broad a coverage as possible. The result is a coherent picture of women’s lives in places that have been underrepresented in the mainstream literature. Gender disparity and inequity prevail in all cultures with common mechanisms. A gender-sensitive and culturally relevant psychology can identify strategies and programs to accelerate global progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5 on gender equality. Where relevant research is available, culture-specific aspects of the topic are featured to highlight the gender issues of concern to particular regions or cultural groups. We believe that the diversity in the range of perspectives included in the chapters through the lenses of authors originating from different cultures will enrich the learning experience of readers.
We hope you enjoyed your journey around the world studying the psychology of women. We expect that it was a sojourn that you will remember. Please take a minute to think of something you learned that resonated with you, surprised you, angered you, or made you proud. As we worked on this book, we had many of these experiences, and we are confident that you did also.
We conclude that there are no overall (average) differences between women and men in general intelligence, but there are some large and persistent differences on cognitive abilities that on average favor males (e.g. mathematics, mental rotation, mechanical) or favor females (verbal ability, most tests of memory). There are more males in the low end of the intelligence distribution, at least in part, for sex-related genetic reasons. There is no genetic evidence for more males in the high end of the intelligence distribution. Paradoxically, societies with greater gender equality do not show reduced differences on many cognitive measures. Our conclusions are about group differences. Thus, these mean differences have no clinical or social significance at the individual level.
There is a growing knowledge base in understanding the differences and similarities between women and men, as well as the diversities among women and sexualities. Although genetic and biological characteristics define human beings conventionally as women and men, their experiences are contextualized in multiple dimensions in terms of gender, sexuality, class, age, ethnicity, and other social dimensions. Beyond the biological and genetic basis of gender differences, gender intersects with culture and other social locations which affect the socialization and development of women across their life span. This handbook provides a comprehensive and up-to-date resource to understand the intersectionality of gender differences, to dispel myths, and to examine gender-relevant as well as culturally relevant implications and appropriate interventions. Featuring a truly international mix of contributors, and incorporating cross-cultural research and comparative perspectives, this handbook will inform mainstream psychology of the international literature on the psychology of women and gender.