Gender as a concept encompasses
mined cognitions, attitudes, and belief systems about
females and males ; [it] varies across cultures, changes
through historical time, and differs in terms of who makes
Using this definition, discussion of the effects of
gender on supervision must be built upon an examina-
tion of the present status regarding gender within this
A Societal Framework
Currently, there appear to be three basic perspectives
concerning gender differences.
These perspectives are
focused in areas of unequal distribution of power, social-
ization, and inherent differences.
tion from these bodies of literature, we can construct an
explanation of what it means to be male or female in our
First, men as a group within American society have
more economic, political, social, and physical power than
Males and females also,
socialized to become different beings as well.
received from family, school, and media continue to be
heavily laden with sex-role messages representing very
different sets of acceptable behaviors for boys and girls.
These social rules and expectations create remarkably dis-
parate psychological environments for development
based on gender.
Finally, in terms of inherent differences,
those characteristics stereotypically identified with
women historically have been dismissed as of little value.
Even within psychology, the model of the healthy adult
has traditionally been described through masculine char-
Only in rather recent history have we begun,
at any level, to hear and value “the other voice” (Gilligan,
This societal framework indicates the existence of a
power differential and suggests the potential for bias in
expectations and/or actions.
With gender as such a sig-
nificant social variable, it is unlikely that the effects also
would not be apparent in counseling and supervision.
These parallel processes must continually be examined
within the larger context of society.
Two remaining factors are worth mentioning. Mini-
mizing the importance of the differences between the
genders discounts the importance of meaningful within-
group experience while exaggerating this importance
reduces the potential for individual difference.
ally, it is important to remember that while much that we
have come to understand about gender differences has
been motivated by the women’s movement, the poten-
tial for bias and discrimination affects both men and