Letter to the editor: Daily News' confusion of terms obscures concepts

Dear editor:

In your editorial of March 25 entitled "Attend Women's Week regardless of gender," and a March 28 article by Nick Werner entitled "Brownell's daughter not limited by gender," the term "gender" is incorrectly used to make reference to sex.

"Sex" refers to biological based categories of male and female. The physiological distinctions are based on whether sexes produce egg cells (females) or sperm cells (males), possession of anatomical structures suited to the production of eggs or sperms (primary sexual characteristics) or obvious physical characteristics, such as breast and facial hair (secondary sexual characteristics).

"Gender" is a scheme for social categorization of individuals. The term is often used to describe 1) non-physiological components of sex that are culturally regarded as appropriate for males or females; 2) for traits which distinguish social categories (warm, yielding, gentle, forceful, etc.); or 3) as a label for the social categories, i.e. masculine, feminine, and androgynous. The misuse of the terms obscures an important conceptual distinction between biological and social - a distinction that the scientific and scholarly communities, if not the wider public, should be expected to maintain.

Shaheen Borna
Professor of marketing


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