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Contemporary Gender Roles


									Contemporary Gender Roles
Understanding Gender and Gender
• Sex-refers to male and female in a biological
• Gender-refers to male or female, often in a
  social sense.
• Role-refers to the culturally defined expectations
  that an individual is expected to fulfill in a given
  situation in a particular culture.
• Gender roles-are the roles that a person is
  expected to perform as a result of being male or
  female in a particular culture.
• Gender-role stereotype-a rigidly held and
  oversimplified belief that all males and females,
  as a result of their sex, possess distinct
  psychological and behavioral traits.
• Gender-role attitudes-refer to the beliefs we
  have of ourselves and others regarding
  appropriate male and female personality traits
  and activities.
• Gender-role behaviors-refer to the actual
  activities or behaviors we engage in as males
  and females.
• Gender identity is based on genitalia, and learned at a
  very young age.
• Cultures determine the content of gender roles in their
  own ways.
• We acquire gender identities at a very young age.
• Gender identity is perhaps the deepest concept we hold
  of ourselves.
• Our gender script determines the role you will fulfill
  during your lifetime.
• Gender identity-The psychological sense of whether one
  is male or female.
   Contemporary Gender Roles
• Until the last generation, the bipolar gender role was the
• model used to explain male-female differences.
• 1. According to this model, males and females are polar
• 2. Males possess exclusively instrumental traits.
• 3. Females possess exclusively expressive ones.
• 4. While sociologists no longer use this model, American
  beliefs related to gender roles have changed little.
• The problem with the view that men and women are
  opposites is that it is erroneous. Men and women are
  more alike than different.
• Gender schema is one way culture exaggerates
  existing gender differences or creates
  differences where none otherwise exist.
• Gender schema-is a set of interrelated ideas that
  help us process information by categorizing it in
  useful ways according to gender.
• Bipolar gender roles-in this model, males and
  females are seen as polar opposites, with males
  possessing exclusively instrumental traits and
  females possessing exclusively expressive
               Gender Theory
• Gender theory is based on two assumptions:
   – a. Male-female relationships are characterized by
     power issues.
   – b. Society is constructed in such a way that males
     dominate females.
• Gender theory focuses on:
   – How specific behaviors or roles are defined as male
     or female.
• The key to the” creation of gender inequality” is
  the belief that men and women are "opposite"
• Social learning theory, from behaviorist
  psychology, suggests that we learn attitudes and
  behaviors as a result of social interaction with
• The cornerstone of social learning theory is the
  belief that consequences control behavior.
• 2. Positive reinforcement rewards behavior,
  while negative reinforcement makes it less likely
  to recur.
• Cognitive development theory focuses on
  the child's active interpretation of
  messages from the environment.
• Cognitive development theory stresses the
  idea that we learn differently depending on
  our age.
• Gender-role learning in childhood and adolescence is
  influenced primarily by parents, teachers, peers, and the
• During infancy and early childhood, a child's most
  important source of learning is the primary caretaker,
  usually their parent(s).
• Immediately after birth, parents differentiate in treatment
  between boys and girls.
• Children are socialized in gender roles through four
• Through manipulation, certain behaviors are reinforced
  until children accept their parents' views.
• Through channeling, children's attention is
  directed to specific objects.
• Through verbal appellation, parents use different
  words to describe the same behavior by boys or
  by girls.
• Through exposure to different activities or
• Teachers, as socializing agents, become
  influential as children enter day care or
  kindergarten-the child's first experience in the
  wider world outside the family.
• Peers, a child's age-mates, become especially important
  when the child enters school.
• Peers reinforce gender-role norms through play activity
  and toys.
• Peers react with approval or disapproval to other's
• Peers influence the adoption of gender-role norms
  through verbal approval and disapproval.
• Children's perceptions of their friends' gender-role
  attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs encourage them to
  adopt similar ones in order to be accepted.
• During adolescence, peers continue to have a strong
  influence, but parents can be more influential than peers.
• Gender role learning continues in adulthood and takes
  place in contexts outside the family of origin.
• College-encourages young people to think critically and
  to sometimes consider alternatives to traditional gender
• Marriage-is an important source of gender role learning,
  with our partner's expectations shaping our behavior.
• Parenthood-tends to alter women's lives more than it
  alters men's lives; when children are born roles tend to
  become more traditional.
• The workplace-has different expectations and
  opportunities for men and for women creating different
  attitudes toward achievement.
         Gender Matters in Family
• Traditional gender-role stereotypes ascribe traits to one
  gender but not the other, with men showing instrumental
  traits and women showing expressive traits.
• Central features of the traditional male role, regardless of
  ethnicity, include dominance, work, and family.
• Males are generally regarded as more power oriented
  and demonstrate higher degrees of aggression.
• Traditional men see their primary family function as that
  of provider and are more often confused by their
  spouse's expectations of intimacy.
• Traditional white female gender roles center around
  women's roles as wives and mothers.
• The traditional female gender role did not extend to
  African- American women because employment and
  self-reliance are integral components of their roles of
  wife and mother. Black women do not see working
  outside the home and motherhood as mutually exclusive.
• In traditional Latino gender roles, women subordinated
  themselves to males out of respect for the male's role as
• Contemporary gender roles are evolving from
  traditionally hierarchical gender roles to more egalitarian
  and androgynous gender roles.
• Women are increasingly taking on the roles of employed
  workers and professionals, although these may conflict
  with parenting.
• Record numbers of women are choosing not to have
  children because of the conflicts it creates; this is less
  true for women from ethnic and minority status groups.
• Women have greatly increased their power in decision-
  making, but husbands continue to have more power in
  actual practice.
• The mutually exclusive division of traits as either male
  (instrumental) or female (expressive) is breaking down.
• Men are expanding their family roles beyond
  "breadwinning": Many of those in the evolving Men's
  Movement share the beliefs of feminism.
• Although substantially more flexibility is offered to men
  and women today, contemporary gender roles and
  expectations continue to limit our potential.
• Men are required to work and support their families
  rather than have the same role freedom to choose to
  work as women have.
• When the man's roles of worker and father come into
  conflict, it is usually the father role that suffers.
• Men continue to have greater difficulty in expressing
  their feelings and may be out of touch with their inner
• Contemporary men still expect, and in many cases are
  expected, to be dominant in relationships.
• Research suggests that the traditional
  female gender role does not foster self-
  confidence or mental health: Both men
  and women tend to see women as less
  competent then men.
• Differences in gender roles have created
  what Bernard calls the "his" and "her"
  marriage: Each gender experiences
  marriage differently.
• Androgyny refers to the state of combining male and
  female characteristics.
• Androgynous gender roles are characterized by flexibility
  and a unique combination of instrumental and
  expressive traits.
• Individuals who are rigidly both instrumental and
  expressive, despite the situation, are not considered
• Androgynous individuals and couples appear to have a
  greater ability to form and sustain intimate relationships
  and adopt a wider range of behaviors and values.
• Contemporary gender roles are still in flux: Few men or
  women are entirely egalitarian or traditional.
• Gender reform feminisms: are geared toward
  giving women the same rights and opportunities
  that men enjoy.
• Gender-resistant feminisms: advocate more
  radical, separatist strategies for women out of
  the belief that their subordination is too
  embedded in the existing social system.
• Gender-rebellion feminisms: tend to emphasize
  overlapping and interrelated inequalities of
  gender, sexual orientation, race, and class.

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