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Introduction

Much attention is given to gender development in childhood. We have studied everything from aggression to toy preferences to unlock the biological and sociological combinations of cross-cultural patterns of gender. This issue takes a deep dive into an American context, where anti-discrimination laws and general awareness of gender bias are capturing increasing political space. What impacts do gender have on later developmental phases, namely that of early adulthood beginning in university and extending through middle age?

In Gender Roles in the Romantic Relationships of Women in STEM and Female-Dominated Majors: A Study of Heterosexual Couples, Dunlap, Barth, and Chappetta, show that despite some characteristic differences of students in a STEM versus a female-dominated major of study, all students prioritized their intimate relationships over their future career success. Strikingly, there were more similarities between the aspirations of men and women and across majors than differences related to gendered expectations. The article provides evidence that students enter into adulthood with more gender-equal expectations than many of their predecessors.

Yet these egalitarian expectations face the harsh reality of working outside the home. How does gender impact whether you are initially hired for a job? In Hiring Decisions: The Effect of Evaluator Gender and Gender Stereotype Characteristics on the Evaluation of Job Applicants, Greenlee and Barth find that the gender and gender stereotype characteristics of an evaluator influence hiring decisions. In The Human Capital Model or Location! Location! Location!? The Gender-Based Wage Gap in the Federal Civil Service, Mani explains the perseverance of wage gaps between women and men. As individuals moving in and out of an unequal economic system, how else are we impacted by gender?

As we age, our lives become increasingly gender-segregated. By our thirties, we may disproportionally favor same sex friendships, and feel more emotionally connected with same-gender friends. In, "As You Grow up the Divide Still Tends to Happen": A Qualitative Investigation of Gender Segregation in Adulthood, Mehta and Smith, find that despite our tendency to segregate, we value the rich contexts of our cross-gender friendships.

Is there value in unity of experience? If so, how can we take the egalitarian idealism from our youth and transform our working years? These authors make some suggestions.

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Correspondence to Ashley Simons-Rudolph.

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Simons-Rudolph, A., Simons-Rudolph, J. Introduction. Gend. Issues (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-019-09234-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-019-09234-2