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Gender Roles - Research Paper Example

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Gender Roles Introduction Modern society utilizes gender as a major cognitive schema for the determination of roles to be played by females and males in a society. The process of acquisition of norms and roles expected of people within a society is referred to as socialization…
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Gender Roles Research Paper
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Download file to see previous pages An important aspect of socialization is teaching children about the significance of gender roles and raising them in accordance with the acceptable norms and principles of a society. Gender roles have pivotal and ingrained importance in the structure of a society. For instance, in most societies, men are expected to acquire the role of a bread winner of the family and tackle tough household chores such as performing necessary yard work and tinkering cars. On the other hand, their female counterparts are expected to adopt the roles of being a mother, handle household chores, and look after their husbands. In accordance with Eagly’s social role theory, the occurrence of gender differences is a direct result of the fact that since childhood, men and women are guided by different role expectations. Gender roles are molded and influenced by a range of factors including social and biological factors. In simple terms, gender roles are a cumulative result of numerous factors (Weiten et al. 2012). Environmental and Social Factors The social construction of gender roles is heavily guided by what a society considers as gender appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The appropriate behavioral characteristics are instilled in young individuals by a series of patient rewards and punishments. The power of reward and punishment shapes gender role and are considered as the key processes in operant conditioning. “Gender appropriate behavior” is reinforced by parents, teachers and peers while gender inappropriate behavior is eliminated by persistent punishments. In school and at home, boys are often told that “big boys don’t cry” whenever hurt themselves and if this inhibits their crying, they are rewarded with powerful reinforcements such as a pat on their backs or a smile. The tendency of boys to “act like a man” and suppress emotional displays is strengthened by a consistent pattern of similar reinforcements. Observational learning or imitation constitutes an important way for younger children to learn gender appropriate roles. Younger children imitate the behavior of an older sibling or parents to modify their own behavior accordingly. The social cognitive theory states that individuals who are powerful and nurturant are more likely to be imitated by younger children. During early childhood years, children imitate both genders but they are more likely to imitate individuals that are of the same sex. For this reason, girls are more likely to imitate their mothers and adopt feminine characteristics such as empathy, compassion, and nurturing. Furthermore, by imitating their mothers young girls start playing with toy stoves and doll houses. On the other hand, young boys follow in the footsteps of their fathers and by imitating masculine behavior, they prefer to play with miniature trucks and tool kits. In case of very young individuals, same gender peers serve as more influential models than parents. The adoption of gender roles begins very early in the life of an individual. In a society, people are labeled and expected to have gender appropriate characteristics which plays an important role in the determination of appropriate gender roles. In accordance with a recent study, children start utilizing gender labels as soon they turn 19 months old. Therefore, the perception of gender labels coupled with the processes of reward and pun ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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