An Evaluation of Gender Stereotypes as a Major Cause of Discrimination in the Society - Paper Example

Published: 2024-01-19
An Evaluation of Gender Stereotypes as a Major Cause of Discrimination in the Society - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Discrimination Society
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1651 words
14 min read


Men and women or their roles in society define gender stereotypes as a generalized preconception or view about the characteristics that are possessed. At its core, gender stereotyping is a belief that causes the propagator to make assumptions concerning the members of a given subject group. A prevalent instance of gender stereotyping asserts that men should be the breadwinners and women caregivers of a household (Wood and Eagly, 2012). This paper addresses the question and hypothesizes that gender stereotypes are a major cause of gender biases and discrimination within society. The paper examines the prevalence of gender stereotypes among children, and men with eating disorders, as well as how parents contribute to the choice of careers among their children (Wood and Eagly, 2012). Besides, the paper incorporates the social role theory in assessing gender stereotypes within society. Gender stereotypes result in the propagation of implicitly sexually suggestive images of women subjected to violence, particularly through social media platforms (Canales & Lopez, 2013). More so, it is a serious and extremely acute impediment to achieving real equality between men and women. Generally, gender inequalities and stereotypes affect public and social institutions that define and view women and men (Wood and Eagly, 2012). The paper also examines the future implications of gender stereotyping and research studies that need to be conducted to fill knowledge gaps related to gender stereotyping.

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Literature Review

Apparently, gender stereotypes lead to discrimination and the propagation of prejudices based on the victim's gender. (Martin & Dinella, 2001) define gender stereotypes as the beliefs people have concerning the characteristics of females and males. This view leads to the development of expectations that are often associated with the roles fulfilled by these sexes within the cultural sub-contexts in society. Sexist prejudices are taught to children at a very young age, thus raising the question of gender-related development (Martin & Dinella, 2001). Children begin depicting evidence of developing a rudimentary understanding of objects and activities surrounding each sex from as early as 2 to 3 years (Martin & Dinella, 2001). More so, these sexist prejudices lead to complications of relationships since both adults and children base their judgments of a person on his or her sex rather than relevant and real information (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Moreover, research shows that gender stereotypes among boys are more rigid compared to girls. However, the rigidity fluctuates because of increased cognitive abilities and flexibility in the application of these stereotypes (Wood and Eagly, 2012). The transformation is usually because of pressures emanating from society to prepare them for adult status and sexual roles, which increases their adherence to the stereotypes and their inherent prevalence within society.

Gender stereotypes have pervaded the career sphere, whereby the assumed role obligations associated with gender influence an individual's career choice. More so, this contributes to the high prevalence of gender segregation at the workplace ("Equity and Justice in Developmental Science: Theoretical and Methodological Issues," 2016). For instance, the number of women in fields like receptionists, secretarial positions, and kindergarten teachers stands at 90 percent (Nunner-Winkler, 2001). Gender stereotypes also affect how public and social institutions define and view women (Wood and Eagly, 2012). This is evidenced by the prevalence of men filling top positions in fields of economy, sciences, and politics, while women exclusively work as part-timers (Nunner-Winkler, 2001). The prejudice is further illustrated in occupations such as nursing, whereby male admission into this female occupation is easily accepted and promoted, unlike women joining a male-oriented occupation, which is critically ridiculed and scrutinized.

The media is a powerful and pervasive tool that influences how humanity views women and men. Incorporated into our daily lives, the media imparts its messages into the self-consciousness of its viewers almost constantly (Canales & Lopez, 2013). The various media forms propagate unrealistic and stereotypical perceptions of the images of the male and female sexes (Williams, 2020). Moreover, adolescents and children interact with the platforms of social media daily, a fact that adults are typically unaware of (Brown & Stone, 2016). Apparently, social media serves as a breeding ground for harassment among young peers, as well as a tool for propagating sexualized gender expressions and stereotypes (Brown & Stone, 2016). The media implements three main themes to represent gender. The first theme asserts the underrepresentation of women, which inherently sets men as the cultural standard while women are perceived as invisible in a world dominated by men (Williams, 2020). Secondly, women and men are portrayed in manners that reflect a socially endorsed view of the sexes. Lastly, the relationships between women and men depict an emphasis on traditional roles, which leads to the normalization of violence against females (Williams, 2020). Conclusively, the issue of gender stereotyping will never cease unless people strive to create awareness about labeling within society.

Gender stereotypes cast women as communal and supportive, while men are seen as agentic and competent in comparison with their counterparts (Mölders et al., 2017). For instance, in companies, men are thought of as more suited for roles of leadership because of previously learned cultural beliefs (Rudman et al., 2012). The primacy of a man's existence is associated with the role of a breadwinner, while women are considered homemakers (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Essentially, these associations establish deep-rooted and cross-cultural gender-based discrimination (Mölders et al., 2017). The biases of these gender stereotypes assert negative perceptions of women, thus making it difficult for them to persuade others of their ability to be strong leaders (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Additionally, the theory of social roles asserts that gender stereotypes within society originate from the traditional roles of men and women as breadwinners and homemakers, respectively (Rudman et al., 2012). However, the shift in roles has instigated a change in stereotypes, whereby contemporary women perceive themselves as more agentic, a character synonymous with men, than their counterpart women of the past (Rudman et al., 2012).

Social role theory asserts that the prevalence of gender stereotypes emanates from the sex division of labor, which are major attribute of society. More so, the gender-based division in the labor force gives women and men differentiated skills. For example, in Western cultures, men have higher participation in positions of greater status and power, while women have a disproportionate position assignment (Ridgeway, 2001). The gravity of gender stereotypes transcends even situations that do not control behavior, whereby men and women still act differently because of the differentiation of skills based on gender (Ridgeway, 2001). Despite women and men receiving equal education, equality barely determines their career success (Scalambrino & Lowery, 2017). Apparently, men have a higher likelihood of earning more than females as well as a higher likeliness of promotion. Through focusing on positions like leadership and domains like engineering, women's underrepresentation becomes clear (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Social roles like parenthood, attitudes, and general gender stereotypes assume a communication and social identity perspective, which in turn determine the scenarios of men's and women's interaction at work (Scalambrino & Lowery, 2017). Furthermore, the theory presumes that gender-based stereotypes owe their origin to the difference in social roles reserved for men and women.

According to research, children tend to be more aware and knowledgeable about gender stereotypes compared to ethnic and racial stereotypes. For instance, a current survey showed that when placed together, white, black, and mixed-race children discuss their gender identities readily, while discussions of racial stereotypes barely emerged ("Equity and justice in developmental science: Theoretical and methodological issues," 2016). Another study showed that in terms of gender-related activities, children rated ballet as a game for girls only and baseball as a boy-oriented game ("Equity and justice in developmental science: Theoretical and methodological issues," 2016). Inherent measurements of the children's awareness of stereotypes illustrated that children below 10 years old know the cultural stereotypes in America ("Equity and justice in developmental science: Theoretical and methodological issues," 2016). More evidence postulates that children's awareness of stereotypes relies on their social position in society (Eagly & Wood, 2016). Particularly individuals from lower social classes appear more accustomed to stereotypes (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Combatively, children's awareness of gender-based stereotypes is more established in comparison to their knowledge of ethnic and racial stereotypes, but this awareness depends on the social position of the child in society (McKown & Weinstein, 2003).

Children's awareness of sexism depends on their existing knowledge of gender inequalities and stereotypes. Evidence illustrates that children develop an awareness of gender stereotypes in the early stages of their childhood, even before they join an elementary school (Halim & Ruble, 2009). Besides, children's knowledge of these stereotypes and inequalities increases as they get older. For instance, the results of research conducted to evaluate this hypothesis indicated that by the time children hit middle childhood, most of them were aware of higher status associated with the various jobs done by men in comparison with jobs done by women (Leaper & Brown, 2014). Moreover, the progression in knowledge was also witnessed among adolescents, whereby they depicted more awareness of societal extents of gender inequalities. In general, children recognize instances of gender biases within their own lives by the time they reach middle childhood. For example, research conducted on gender biases in schools showed that girls reported preferential treatment being accorded to boys in athletics (Leaper & Brown, 2014). In contrast, boys reported that girls were accorded more preferential treatment in the classroom setup (Canales & Lopez, 2013). Despite adolescents and children having knowledge of sexism and having the ability to perceive discrimination, they rarely view themselves as targets of the inequalities (Spears Brown & Bigler, 2005). Conclusively, the perception of sexism by children and young individuals, in general, determines how they cope with gender stereotypes in the future, thus influencing the prevalence of gender-based inequalities in society.

Parents act as a great socializing factor in their child's life. More so, their messages and information concerning gender stereotypes and roles contribute to the child's expectations of success in certain careers and inherent motivation to pursue them (Fulcher, 2011). Parents influence the occupational aspirations of their children by influencing their general beliefs and academic values (Canales & Lopez, 2013). The beliefs and values conveyed by parents to their children originate from gender stereotypes.

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