Formation and Implications of Gender Stereotypes

Information about appropriate gender roles and behaviors is conveyed through different channels from language usage, occupational and educational settings, family and media. A family is the first mediator of gender-appropriate roles. Parents are first role models and educators of gender-appropriate roles.Media further extends the knowledge of gender differences and promotes gender stereotypes. Education through certain toys meant for boys or girls makes an early differentiation between children of different sexes. Further education, where girls are discouraged from excelling in certain fields, increases the gender gap.In the society where male and female roles are strictly regulated and men are characterized as active, rational risk takers in contract to women who are passive and emotional caregivers, it is difficult to build an identity which is different from the stereotypes.Gender roles are so deeply embedded in occupational and behavioral roles of men and women that crossing the borders of social expectations results in severe punishments. Men are labeled as homosexual and women are considered as men-like when they do not meet the cultural expectation of masculinity or femininity.It has become a common practice in social sciences to differentiate between notions of gender and sex. While sex is a biological notion defining genetic makeup and hormone profile, gender is a social phenomenon which varies with the roles, norms, and values of a given society or era. (Phillips, 2005 p.4) So, sex refers to physicality while gender refers to the behavior of individuals, the roles and personality traits which correspond to their biological makeup.

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