Gender stereotypes are sets of cultural expectations popularly adopted by the mass majority. These roles and expectations are kept in place partly because of the human need to belong. Some cultures have restricting gender stereotypes, while others have become more lenient and accepting of deviation from gender roles.
Gender Stereotyping and Women
Women's gender stereotyping is more commonly discussed when teaching gender stereotypes because many believe that the gender stereotyping of women has been a huge disadvantage for the advancement of women socially, through education and in the workforce. Common gender-stereotypical qualities of women are: submissive, quiet, neat, weak, clean, clumsy, incompetent and motherly. Because social pressures to fulfil 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.
Gender Stereotyping and Men
Men also have strict gender stereotypes that typically enforce the idea that men do not have any feminine qualities. 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.
Gender stereotyping assumes that there is inequality in the talents of both genders. Because stereotypes are common in U.S. culture, they often affect the types of jobs men and women can get. For example, many women are hired in the hospitality industry because women are thought of as nurturing, emotional and friendly. Men are often considered for jobs that require strength and physical ability, such as dish washing and construction, and jobs that require emotional control and leadership skills, such as upper management positions. While companies are legally unable to discriminate against either gender, many men and women seek out jobs ascribed to their gender to fit into expectations.
Deviation From Gender Stereotypes
While many people tend to fit into their gender stereotypes to a certain degree because of socialisation and the need to belong to one's culture, there are still many men and women who deviate from their stereotypes. Examples of deviation from gender stereotypes include women athletes and CEOs, and men working lower-paying hospitality jobs or staying at home to nurture their children. Gay and lesbian couples also deviate from gender stereotypes. While gender stereotyping still holds a strong place in U.S. culture, many schools are teaching the disadvantages of social stereotyping and working to help people understand the importance of accepting people for who and what they are naturally.
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- Media Awareness Network; Gender Stereotypes and Body Image; 2010
- Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies; Barbie Against Superman: Gender Stereotypes and Gender Equity in the Classroom; Bengü Aksu; April 2005
- University of North Carolina; Biological and Sociocultural Views and Consequences of Gender Stereotyping; Lorelei Feldman; 2002
- HRM Guide; Gender Stereotyping A Key Barrier; Alan Price; November 2009
- University of Akron; Parental Influence on Children's Socialization to Gender Roles; Susan D. Witt, Ph.D.; 1997
- Qec-Eran; Gender Stereotypes: The Impact of Socialisation and Education; April 2009