Gender Roles and Gender Role Socialization

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					Sex, Gender, and Gender
   Role Socialization
    Women‟s Studies 101

• Sex refers to the physical and biological
  attributes of men and women
• Sex includes the chromosomal, hormonal,
  and anatomical components of males and
    Gender and Gender Identity
• Gender refers to the social, psychological and cultural
  attributes of masculinity and femininity, many of which
  are based on biological distinctions
   – Gender includes people‟s self image and expectations for
     behavior among other things
• Gender describes societal attitudes and behaviors
  expected of and associated with the two sexes.
• Gender identity refers to the degree to which an
  individual sees herself or himself as feminine or
  masculine based on society‟s definitions of appropriate
  gender roles.*
     Gender Characteristics?
• Generally, sex is considered to be an
  ascribed status while gender is an
  achieved status
• Examples of gender characteristics? What
  physical, emotional, or other
  characteristics are considered “masculine”
  or “Feminine”?
    The Social Construction
          of Gender
• Gender Roles

   – Expectations regarding proper behavior,
     attitudes, and activities of males and
   – Gender roles evident in work and in how
     we react to others
   Gender Role Socialization
• Gender role socialization is “...a lifelong process
  whereby people learn the values, attitudes,
  motivations, and behavior considered
  appropriate to each sex by their culture”
• Gender role socialization takes place from
  earliest childhood through adolescence and
  throughout all social interactions in which we
   Gender Role Socialization

• Socialization approach emphasizes
  conscious social learning
• „Proper‟ behavior is reinforced through
  rewards while inappropriate behavior is
  - children modify behavior in order to
  maximize rewards and minimize sanctions
   Gender Role Socialization
• Children learn proper behavior for girls
  and boys through parents, the media, peer
  groups, and other sources of socialization
• At an early age, children develop
  stereotypical conceptions of both genders,
  and begin to use these conceptions to
  organize their knowledge and behavior
   Masculine Scripts (see WVFV,
            Chapter 3)
1. No sissy-stuff - men are expected to distance
   themselves from anything feminine.
2. Big wheel - men should be occupationally or
   financially successful.
3. Sturdy oak - men should be confident and self-
4. Give „em hell -men should do what is
   necessary to “make it”
          Feminine Scripts
• Women should offer emotional support.
• Ideal woman is attractive, not too
  competitive, a good listener and
• Women are expected to be good mothers
  and put the needs of others first.
• Superwoman - successful at a career and
  a good wife/mother.
      The Social Construction
            of Gender
• Gender-Role Socialization
     • Homophobia: fear of and prejudice against
                            Other adults, older
                            siblings, mass media,
 Parents normally first     religious institutions,
 and most crucial           and educational
 agents of socialization    institutions also exert
                            important influence
Theories on Gender
Table 7-1 Sociological Perspectives
            on Gender
   Functionalist Theory on Gender Inequality
      (Structural Functionalist Perspective)

• Functionalists suggest that since women give birth
  and nurse a child, it is natural that they will take care
  of it in other ways
• These duties lead to a natural division of labor, in
  which women are more involved in domestic
  activities such as preparing meals and maintaining a
• Men, therefore are left to engage in breadwinning
  activities and other economically dominant roles
      Functionalist Theory on Gender Inequality
         (Structural Functionalist Perspective)

• Parsons and Bales refer to the roles of men and
  women as instrumental roles and expressive
  roles respectively
• Pre-industrial society required a division of labor
  based on gender.
   – Women nursed and cared for children.
   – Men were responsible for material needs.
• Industrialization made traditional division of labor
  less functional, belief system remains.
      Conflict Theory on Gender Inequality
• Focuses on why gender inequality persists, even though men
  and women are not tied to traditional roles as might have been
  the case in earlier times
• Suggests that men continue to dominate women because of
  their greater control over economic, political and social
• Because there is no incentive for those in power to give up this
  control, these arrangements persist far beyond their functional
• Continued domination by males requires a belief system that
  supports gender inequality.
• Two beliefs
   – Women are inferior outside the home.
   – Women are more valuable in the home.
       Symbolic Interactionist
• Gender and gender roles are learned through
  socialization process.
• Women are socialized into expressive roles;
  men are socialized into instrumental roles.
• The Interactionist Approach
  – Study micro level of everyday behavior
     • Men are more likely than women to:
        –   Change topics of conversation
        –   Ignore topics chosen by women
        –   Minimize ideas of women
        –   Interrupt women
• Rubin, Provenzano, and Luria, 1974
  - in the first 24 hours after birth, parents
  described girls and boys differently, though there
  were no actual differences between them
• Jacklin, 1984
  - parents give sons toys that encourage
  invention and manipulation, while girls receive
  toys that emphasize caring and imitation
• McHale et al., 1990
  - parents assign boys maintenance chores, and
  give girls domestic tasks
             Media Influences
• Messages about gendered behavior and interactions are
  also conveyed through television, movies, magazines,
  and books
• On average, each day a 4-year-old watches 2 hours of
  television and a 12-year-old watches 4 hours (Comstock
  and Scharrer, 2001)
• Some European nations ban ads before, during, and
  after children‟s television programming

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