The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) uses the following two sentences to illustrate the difference, noting that the distinction "is useful in principle, but it is by no means widely observed, and considerable variation in usage occurs at all levels." In the last two decades of the 20th century, the use of gender in academia has increased greatly, outnumbering uses of sex in the social sciences.While the spread of the word in science publications can be attributed to the influence of feminism, its use as a synonym for sex is attributed to the failure to grasp the distinction made in feminist theory, and the distinction has sometimes become blurred with the theory itself; David Haig stated, "Among the reasons that working scientists have given me for choosing gender rather than sex in biological contexts are desires to signal sympathy with feminist goals, to use a more academic term, or to avoid the connotation of copulation." In legal cases alleging discrimination, sex is usually preferred as the determining factor rather than gender as it refers to biology rather than socially constructed norms which are more open to interpretation and dispute.The modern English word gender comes from the Middle English gender (also gendere, gendir gendyr, gendre), a loanword from Anglo-Norman and Middle French gendre. The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED1, Volume 4, 1900) notes the original meaning of gender as "kind" had already become obsolete.The word was still widely attested, however, in the specific sense of grammatical gender (the assignment of nouns to categories such as masculine, feminine and neuter).According to Aristotle, this concept was introduced by the Greek philosopher Protagoras. To talk of persons..the masculine or feminine g[ender], meaning of the male or female sex, is either a jocularity (permissible or not according to context) or a blunder." and was popularized and developed by the feminist movement from the 1970s onwards (see § Feminism theory and gender studies below).The theory was that human nature is essentially epicene and social distinctions based on sex are arbitrarily constructed.
Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories.
Matters pertaining to this theoretical process of social construction were labelled matters of gender.
The popular use of gender simply as an alternative to sex (as a biological category) is also widespread, although attempts are still made to preserve the distinction.
the state of being male, female or an intersex variation which may complicate sex assignment), sex-based social structures (including gender roles and other social roles), or gender identity.
Some cultures have specific gender roles that can be considered distinct from male and female, such as the hijra (chhaka) of India and Pakistan.
Categorizing males and females into social roles creates a problem, because individuals feel they have to be at one end of a linear spectrum and must identify themselves as man or woman, rather than being allowed to choose a section in between.