Gender roles are always regarded as personal and cultural since they determine the way in which males and females speak, dress, think and interact with their environment. Societies, groups and individuals have divergent expectations on their sex based on the beliefs and values that the environment has believed. Learning plays a critical role on gender roles because of the continuous interaction between individuals and their respective environments. Therefore, proper gender roles are best defined in accordance with the society’s beliefs and perception towards the differences between the sexes. Most scholars have considered gender as a social construct that is created by the societal and cultural norms. From the time children are born, they are conditioned to conform to some gender roles on the basis of their biological sex and the kind of gender they are assigned to.
A gender role refers to the way in which men and women are expected to behave and act in the society based on their sex. In traditional setup, women are seen as more nurturing and are expected to behave in a manner that nurtures their families. Women were expected to work full-time in their families instead of looking for full time employment. On the other hand, the society viewed the gender role of men to be the leaders of their families. The traditional view on gender roles meant that men should provide their families financially and make critical family decisions while women should be nurturers of their families
Gender roles are passed down from one generation to another with the parents playing a critical role in the development of gender roles of their children. For instance, at the age of three, children start becoming aware of the differences between boys and girls basing on the actions of their parents and also the nature of their environment. With time, children start learning the appropriate behavior expected of them by their parents and the entire society. From the infancy of their babies, parents do not treat their sons and daughters equally, dressing their children with different colors, having differentiated toys. Parents reinforce a behavior by rewarding or praising their children for their good actions. Children can also be punished and forced to change some considered behaviors which may affect their gender roles.
As the children grow, they internalize the gender role messages their parents impart on them at an early age and are most likely to generalize gender stereotypes to various objects, activities and occupations. Children can to an extent of even denying the reality of what they see especially if they do not conform to their gender anticipations. It can, therefore, be summed up that sex role is well established during the early years of a child. Messages relating to gender are well recorded in a child’s mind to an extent that even when the child is exposed to other attitudes and experiences, they will go back to the stereotyped choices.
It occurs when women are regarded as homemakers and cannot be allowed to work in an office. Women are offered low-status jobs and being paid lower wages as compared to men. Despite the fact women may comprise of a higher percentage in an organization, they are not fully represented in the top management within the organization. Some of the examples of gender stereotype include:
Personality traits – where women are expected to be shy and submissive while men are expected to be tough, dominant and aggressive.
Occupation – women are supposed to be such clean jobs such as nurses, teachers librarians, and secretaries. Men are supposed to have dirty jobs such as construction work, mechanics and engineering.
Domestic behaviors – women are expected to do some housework, cooking and raise children. Men,on the other hand, are regarded as house repairs and cannot cook or take care of the children.
The gender roles have undergone lots of transformation that have seen more women becoming more independent, unlike the previous years when they were only seen as homemakers. The current society has evolved and women have become more independent, active and ambitious and men have become very emotional and become more involved in household chores.
The present day women have adopted the feminist model whose priority is their careers rather family. Most women have chosen their career paths and professional success has been applauded and traditional roles are a thing of the past. They have chosen to choose their career elements so as to prove their capabilities, to gain control rather being controlled and to have the ability to make their own money.
Throughout the history, women have played various roles ranging from being homemakers to nurturers of their children. They have been seen as warriors, caretakers and workers. Women stepped in when men were not attending to their gender roles as expected from the society. Although women have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are capable, they have been perceived as inferior to men and are expected only to perform their societal chores.
Regardless of the change of the technology and the emergence of the modern issues, gender roles should remain as it was and expectations set by the society to both men and women should remain throughout the centuries and should be passed down from one generation to the other. Although boys and girls are encouraged to pursue higher education in order to be professionals, parents should encourage their children to attend to their gender roles so as to allow the continuity of gender roles being passed from generation to another.