Gender roles are mostly based on ethics or norms observed by a particular society. Globally, masculine roles are related to supremacy, strength, and hostility while feminine characters are associated with subordination, apathy and nurturing. The aim of this paper is to discuss the perceived gender roles, how people view them, and how they interfere with our daily lives and activities. Gender roles are the product of interactions between people and their environments because they provide cues about the kind of values to attach to each sex in regards to the society’s beliefs about deviations in sexes.
The expectations surrounding males and females are not founded on any natural gender variances but on labels about traits and attitudes thus forming the source of prejudiced beliefs that predominately value men over women "Smiles are as important as sound bites on television". The quote menas that women are not always pleased with the gender role connotation but feel obliged to follow them though they limit women’s potential. For instance, a woman might possess entrepreneurial skills and not explore them further because she is encouraged to grow his nurturing skills for her home.
There are several theories that help to understand the formation and distribution of gender roles. In regards to Kohlberg’s theory of cognitive development, gender stereotypes contribute to the acquisition of gender roles. His studies were aimed to examine why children possess different gender information that transforms their roles and behaviors in the society. The conclusions suggest that many kids start by categorizing themselves as either a boy or a girl and, then, behave in certain ways developing gender stability, constancy, and identity. The gender schema approach, on the other hand, proposes that children follow some developmental patterns which assist them to organize their experiences in a manner that guides them concerning what to do and teaches to interpret unknown information. The theory shows that the connection between the acquisition of gender behavior and concepts is dependent on gender understanding.
The gender socialization takes place under the influence of four factors namely family, peer groups, education and media and affects the future actions of an individual. Every force views the gender roles differently but still maintains common beliefs. Family plays a significant part in shaping the behavior of people through the way they organize a child’s environment: boys and girls are taught to dress differently, play with specific toys and even sleep in rooms furnished in particular manner. Therefore, when children are born, they are linked to gender in regards to their biological sex. After birth, male babies are mostly dressed in blue, and the girls wear pink because specific colors are attributed to a particular gender. Furthermore, when it comes to treatment at home, parents also view their children in regards to their gender. For instance, boys are allocated harder chores and taught to be strong and aggressive thus more physically active than girls. At the same time, father and mother tend to be more protective of girls because they are considered weak and vulnerable. Parental conduct stimulates the formation of gender stereotypes in the kids as the latter often emulate adults. However, it is not fully true about girls because their femininity is related to the father’s manliness which affirms the mother as her heroin and encourages her participation in female activities. In a situation where the head of the family plays such an essential role but is absent, it is believed that it prompts disruptions in preadolescent females which leads to future problems in interacting with the opposite sex and creates a permanent damage of their social life.
Moving to the influence of education and peers, one should start from saying that there is immense exposure to unknown views when the child starts attending school because one meets people from diverse cultures, and he/she is expected to respect other values, and in some instances, to adapt to the customs and even practice new traditions to survive. Unfortunately, excess insight into new customs leads to a false credence that actions are naturally based on their gender as opposed to embracing a socially made role. Males and females are believed to be more apt to quite different subjects. For example, girls tend to concentrate on languages and humanities leaving the “hard” subjects like science and mathematics for boys. As a result, women in science careers are deemed unusual because they do not conform to the norm. Furthermore, teachers treat their students differently; girls are encouraged to remain obedient and quiet and, thus, usually perform better in the earlier stages while boys receive a lot of criticism which reduces their interest and motivation to participate in school activities. Though the conforming behavior ensued in girls is favorable to later success, they lack future inspiration because, in high schools, the teachers encourage boys to concentrate on technical subjects leaving the female students with fewer career options. In interactions with peers, both males and females with neutral character have higher confidence compared to those with weaker personality traits, thus, the former are able to perform better. Moreover, owing to their family socialization, children react in an aggressive manner when others violate their beliefs; however, it may lead to gender isolation. Nevertheless, for some, it provides an opportunity to appreciate other people and learn to live in harmony.
Another factor the affects the formation of gender roles is the media. It is very influential because it has the power to affect people’s perceptions. The media is vast: it ranges from electronic to social, and all of them dictate individual’s daily thoughts hence there is a need to limit the exposure to it especially among the young adults. From various media sources, the youth acquire ideas distorting the traditions set by parents, teachers, and other role models; some of the effects are positive, but most are negative. In television programs such as movies, most lead characters are represented by strong males who are meant to attract admiration. Females, however, are often portrayed as trophies for use by the antagonists. “Most of the time I enjoy having guys stare at me,” she said, “but every once in a while it makes me feel like a piece of meat”. The message conveyed to the viewers is that women have no position or opinion in the society, and all they do is take instructions submissively and maintain their beauty for their men to keep admiring them. When a child becomes accustomed to such content, they start displaying similar behaviors thus the increased prostitution in the world today because most girls feel like tools not humans. In such a situation, media education helps to counteract the adverse impact; it helps people to understand that media communicates both explicit and implicit values thus influencing how an audience feels or how they view the world. For instance, continuous consumption of documentaries about women in power makes one think that gender roles have transformed globally. Unfortunately, the fact may be that such a tradition is a trend only in a particular part of the world, and when a person realizes the fact, he/she might suffer from disillusionment. Therefore, there is definitely the need to remain cautious when encountering such information.
The drive to adhere to male and female roles is evident throughout an individual’s adult life. For instance, occupations in the fields of law enforcement, politics, and the military are associated with men while social work, child and health care are believed to be more suitable for women, and adherence to such norms confirms collective expectations, not individual preferences. Nevertheless, although the environment expects one to conform to the set rules, it is difficult to restrict a person’s wants and visions because times have changed, and the world’s economy needs women’s contribution more than before. Today, females occupy positions in male dominated areas, deliver promptly and offer their much-needed ideas leading to the progress of their respective sectors; however, some spheres that need women’s contribution but are dominated by men are still needy owing to people’s primary socialization. The various career choices pursued are controlled by historical and sociological influence; the secondary socialization, education only manages to alter a few individuals’ perceptions.
All in all, with time, gender roles have changed which means there are open opportunities for women to go beyond their expectations; they are now more empowered, and oppression both at homes and in the workplace has reduced. "Your smiling face and unthreatening demeanor make people like you in a fuzzy way, but that doesn't seen'; to be what you're after these days". Though few of them hold top positions in the government and business corporations, the number is rising gradually. Furthermore, many females feel that men being the providers are not able to completely meet all their wants which has prompted them to enter the business world. Remarkably, they perform well in the offices or their personal firms and still maintain homes similar to the ones in the former generations.
To sum up, though the shift in gender roles seems rapid and vast, women remain the caregivers in most families, and even though men are adjusting to this transformation and acknowledging the females’ achievements, they still expect them to follow the traditional role. Since disagreements are bound to occur, both genders should strive to discover the new characters together, negotiate peacefully, and avoid discrimination. Undoubtedly, the process may take time but the implications will ensure better relationships, workplaces, schools and most importantly fulfilling lives.