What Is the Connection between Gender and Self-Esteem?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Factors like neglect, bullying, and teasing have more of an impact on self-esteem than gender does.
Factors like neglect, bullying, and teasing have more of an impact on self-esteem than gender does.

There is a lot of debate about the connection between gender and self-esteem. One common idea is that women tend to have lower self-esteem than men because they often have a lower self-image and are more likely to dislike their bodies. While this may be true on some level, overall self-esteem does not seem to be dictated by gender. Women and girls have equal or greater self-esteem when it comes to aspects of intelligence and abilities in reading, math, science, and other areas. In many widespread studies, there was no marked connection between gender and self-esteem.

Men are often perceived as having higher self-esteem than women, although this is generally not true.
Men are often perceived as having higher self-esteem than women, although this is generally not true.

One of the main reasons women are perceived to have lower self-esteem than men is due to the fact that females are seen as being torn between their possible roles as a wife and mother and as a professional outside of the home. This may have had more validity before the woman's movement, but based on several studies, both young and older women do not feel pressure because of these dueling roles. They seem to have come to accept each role as part of themselves and work to find balance between the two. Many women have a greater sense of achievement and higher self-esteem when they are successful at doing this.

Children in foster care may be more likely to have self-esteem issues.
Children in foster care may be more likely to have self-esteem issues.

Another reason women are viewed to have lower self-esteem than men is because they are more likely to have a poor body image. While it is true that society in most cultures places more of an importance on a woman's looks than on a man's, women are more or equally as confident as men in other areas of their lives. For instance, men may be less confident in their ability to provide for themselves or their families since they often have more pressure in this area.

Men who feel rejected by the opposite sex often have self-esteem issues.
Men who feel rejected by the opposite sex often have self-esteem issues.

Despite some early reports that there was a strong link between gender and self-esteem, there are other factors that are much more likely to impact a person in this area. Those who were abused, neglected, bullied, or teased are more likely to have self-esteem issues. This is also true for children and adults who are placed in foster care, since they often have feelings of not belonging or not being loved. Additionally, some mood disorders and mental illnesses can also lead to low self-esteem, and all people have negative feelings about themselves at one time or another.

Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.
Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.

Potential connections between gender and self-esteem in those who have been abused or bullied have been studied, and even in these cases confidence is often more dependent on a person's psychological makeup than on gender. Some people are naturally more sensitive to such experiences than others. Although there may be certain connections between gender and self-esteem in certain areas, men and women have been found to be equally confident overall.

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Discussion Comments

SarahGen

@fBoyle-- I don't think so. It might actually be difficult for members of one gender to take notice of the other gender's problems.

During teenage years, girls may experience self esteem issues because of their weight, beauty or clothes. But boys may experience these issues as well. The causes may be different, such as academic or athletic success, but the risks are the same.

I do believe that some people are better able to deal with stress and are less likely to suffer from low self esteem. So it may seem as though a gender has more self esteem issues, but it really isn't so.

fBoyle

Could age have something to do with gender and self esteem?

I'm in high school and I think that the girls in my school are dealing with self esteem issues more than the boys.

bluedolphin

Men are just as likely to have a poor body image in today's era. In the past, this may have been more true for men but not anymore. Now, society expects men to be fit, well groomed, well dressed and handsome. So the pressures about outer appearance apply just as much to men.

I don't think there is much connection between gender and self esteem. Self esteem has more to do with childhood experiences and traumas.

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    • Factors like neglect, bullying, and teasing have more of an impact on self-esteem than gender does.
      By: micromonkey
      Factors like neglect, bullying, and teasing have more of an impact on self-esteem than gender does.
    • Men are often perceived as having higher self-esteem than women, although this is generally not true.
      By: Ekaterina Nikitina
      Men are often perceived as having higher self-esteem than women, although this is generally not true.
    • Children in foster care may be more likely to have self-esteem issues.
      By: kmiragaya
      Children in foster care may be more likely to have self-esteem issues.
    • Men who feel rejected by the opposite sex often have self-esteem issues.
      By: Tracy King
      Men who feel rejected by the opposite sex often have self-esteem issues.
    • Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.
      By: michaeljung
      Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.
    • Girls often face more issues with self-esteem than boys during adolescence.
      By: Halfpoint
      Girls often face more issues with self-esteem than boys during adolescence.
    • Dating success is often tied in with self-esteem.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Dating success is often tied in with self-esteem.
    • In many studies, there is no major connection between gender and self-esteem.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      In many studies, there is no major connection between gender and self-esteem.