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Gender Roles and Stereotyping

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Gender roles are separate patterns of personality traits, mannerisms, interests, attitudes, and behaviors that are regarded as either ‘male’ or ‘female’ by one’s culture. Gender roles are largely a product of the way in which one was raised and may not be in conformance with one’s gender identity. Research shows that both genetics and environment influence the development of gender roles. As society changes, its gender roles often also change to meet the needs of the society. To this end, it has been suggested that androgynous gender roles in which both females and males are expected to display either expressive (emotion-oriented) or instrumental (goal-oriented) behaviors as called for by the situation may be better for both the individual and the society in many ways.

However, this is not to say that traditional roles, reversed roles, or anything in between are inherently bad. More research is needed to better understand the influences of genetics and environment on the acquisition of gender roles and the ways in which different types of gender roles support the stability and growth of society.

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In society, we normally give genders a stereotype. Gender stereotypes normally begin once we find out the gender of a child at birth. We give the child, if born a male, a strong male name. Or, if born a female, a strong female name. We stereotype the female gender with personality traits like, expecting them to be more accommodating and emotional like Hyperfemininity. Hyperfemininity is an exaggerated stereotyped behavior that is believed to be feminine. Hyper Feminine people exaggerate qualities they believe to be associated with the female gender. For example being passive, shy, flirty, naive, sexual, soft, and etc. Hyper Feminine people are subjected to be more likely to get physically and emotionally abused by their partners.

Stereotyping is no different when it’s found out that a boy is on the way. Painting the nursery a “boy color”, decorating the nursery to fit the picture of what a boy should learn/like. Men are usually expected to be the breadwinners, tough, and hardcore. Once a child is born and is labeled a boy, they have the weight of living up to society’s standard of the “normal” man. Being a man in today’s society means, no crying, suck it up, be tough, and being able to provide which is like Hypermasculinity. Hypermasculinity is exaggerated behavior that is to be believed to portray the male gender. Hyper Masculine people exaggerate the qualities they believe to be male like, compete with other men and dominate feminine folks by being aggressive, worldly, sexually experienced, insensitive, physically imposing, ambitious, and demanding. Hyper Masculine people are projected to be physically and emotionally abusive to their partners.

When talking about Gender you will have to take account that, there is a rising population of transgender and transsexual people in our society. A transgender is someone who insists that they were born in the wrong body. While they have the body of one gender, transgender people have the conscience of the opposite gender. Experts have found that signs of Gender Identity Disorder (the medical term for transgenderism) can and often do begin at age two or three. Gender identity disorder can affect children, adolescents, and adults. Individuals with gender identity disorder have strong cross-gender identification. They believe that they are, or should be, the opposite sex. They are uncomfortable with theirsexual role and organs and may express a desire to alter their bodies. While not all persons with GID are labeled astranssexuals, there are those who are determined to undergo sex change procedures or have done so, and, therefore,are classified as transsexual. They often attempt to pass socially as the opposite sex. Transsexuals alter their physical appearance cosmetically and hormonally, and may eventually undergo a sex-change operation. The cause of gender identity disorder is not known. It has been theorized that a prenatal hormonal imbalance may predispose individuals to the disorder. Problems in the individual’s family interactions or family dynamics have also been postulated as having some causal impact. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), the diagnostic reference standard for United States mental health professionals, describes the criteria for gender identity disorder as an individual’s strong and lasting cross-gender identification and their persistent discomfort with their biological gender role. This discomfort must cause a significant amount of distress or impairment in the functioning of the individual. Treatment for children with gender identity disorder focuses on treating secondary problems such as depression and anxiety, and improving self-esteem. Treatment may also work on instilling positive identifications with the child’s biological gender. Children typically undergo psychosocial therapy sessions their parents may also be referred for family or individual therapy.

There are many different genders that people identify in today’s society. Below is some of the topics and terms: Agender, Androgynous, Bigender, Binary, Cisgender, Gender dysphoria, Gender expression, Gender fluid, Gender identity, Gender non-conforming, Gender questioning, Genderqueer, Misgender, Non-binary, Passing, Queer, Transgender, and more. Gender identity is an extremely personal part of who we are, and how we perceive and express ourselves in the world. It is a separate issue entirely from sex, our biological makeup or sexual orientation, who we are attracted to. There are dozens of dynamic and evolving terms related to how people identify.

Common gender-stereotypical qualities of women are: submissive, quiet, neat, weak, clean, clumsy, incompetent and motherly. Because social pressures to fulfill these expectations are strong, typically enforced by parents, friends, teachers and media, many women conform to these qualities. They refrain from speaking their minds, becoming active in strength-related sports and not progressing especially well in the workforce because of insecurity and the pressure to become a mother. Those who do not conform to gender roles are often considered harsh, controlling or manly. Essentially, this means that it is culturally unacceptable for men to display qualities of neatness, being emotional, weakness or nurturing. This leaves the male stereotypical qualities of athleticism, loudness, strength, dominance and being in complete control of emotions. While this can negatively affect men’s mental and emotional growth, it also encourages men to excel in active sports and in the workforce for fear of being considered feminine or weak. Financially, gender stereotyping seems to affect men positively, but gender stereotyping tends to restrict men’s creativity and emotional growth. Men who are creative and emotional, who don’t meet the stereotype, tend to be seen in a negative light.

A man that acts within his own gender role is lauded, but a woman is forced to stay within a certain fence within her role. She has to be feminine but not too much, sexual but not too much, and must have a career but not if it means she is a bad mother. Children learn from their parents and society the conception of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine.’ Much about these conceptions is not biological at all but cultural. The way we tend to think about men and women and their gender roles in society constitute the prevailing paradigm that influences our thinking.

Riane Eisler points out that the prevailing paradigm makes it difficult for us to analyze properly the roles of men and women in prehistory ‘we have a cultural bias that we bring to the effort and that colors our decision-making processes.’ Sexism is the result of that bias imposed by our process of acculturation. Gender roles in Western societies have been changing rapidly in recent years, with the changes created both by evolutionary changes in society, including economic shifts which have altered the way people work and indeed which people work as more and more women enter the workforce, and by perhaps pressure brought to make changes because of the perception that the traditional social structure was inequitable. Gender relations are a part of the socialization process, the initiation given the young by society, teaching them certain values and creating in them certain behavior patterns acceptable to their social roles. These roles have been in a state of flux in American society in recent years, and men and women today can be seen as having expanded their roles in society, with women entering formerly male dominions and men finding new ways to relate to and function in the family unit. today, people are far less willing to accept these artificial roles even reluctantly, and this includes the provision keeping women in the home and out of the public arena. To have more women in office it is necessary to have more women run. Public views change more slowly than the reality of gender roles. They will continue to change slowly as long as we continue acculturating children with the same sexual stereotypes that have so long prevailed. It is necessary that we address this issue from early childhood, with parents demonstrating a different view of gender and sexual roles just as the school and church should take a part in eliminating the old stereotypes in favor of a more reasonable and equitable way to view both men and women.


  • Holly Brewer, (2017). List of Gender Stereotypes.
  • Manuku Mukoni. (2015). Traditional Gender Roles of Men and Women in Natural Resource Conservation among the Vhavenda People in Zimbabwe: Implications for Sustainable Development, Vol. 5, No. 4(1) April 2015
  • Simona Palermo & Elisabetta Giuffra are at Parco Tecnologico Padano in Lodi, Italy.
  • Valeria Arzenton & Massimiano Bucchi are at Observa—Science in Society, in Vicenza, Italy. (2008). Gender and Science. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2427376/

Cite this Gender Roles and Stereotyping

Gender Roles and Stereotyping. (2020, Aug 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/gender-roles-and-stereotyping/

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