Beyond the Damsel in Distress: Gender Differences and Similarities in Enacting Prosocial Behavior
We examine gender differences and similarities in prosocial behavior from the vantage point of social role theory. According to this perspective, the gendered division of labor leads to gender roles, which are elaborated in internalized attributes as well as social interactions. We consider gender differences and similarities in prosocial behavior in light of the different environments, experiences, and expectations encountered by each sex. Consistent with a social role perspective, the evidence shows gender-differentiated behavior particularly when contexts implicate central aspects of the male gender role or the female gender role. In particular, prosocial behavior that involves real or perceived physical risk or chivalry tends to be enacted more by men than women. In contrast, prosocial behavior that involves long-term, sustained caregiving or concern for societally disadvantaged others tends to be enacted more by women than men.