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Rosenfeld, Rachel A. (2002). What Do We Learn about Difference from the Scholarship on Gender?. Social Forces, 81(1), 1-24.


What can the scholarship on gender teach us about studying difference and dealing with diversity in our professional and personal lives? Here, I first describe the expansion of research on gender over the last 30 years. This research has grown not only in its representation in our journals, but also in the types of differences it considers - between women and men, among women (and among men), and across national boundaries. Next, I discuss some of the lessons we learn from this research: to study difference in its own context, make real comparisons, look for similarities as well as differences, examine variation within as well as between groups, investigate exceptions, note failure to find effects, allow for equifinality, and move up a level in abstraction to go beyond gender as a category per se. These lessons about moving between the specific and the general can help us understand processes creating inequality. Finally, I illustrate how we can apply these lessons in our teaching and service.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Forces


Rosenfeld, Rachel A.