People Innovation Excellence

Gender Stereotyping, matter or not?

Ami Fitri Utami, SE., MSM

“..a boy in his age should be playing ball, not twirling some sissy baton…it’s embarrassing…”
Tom Oddette (Character in Joseph Goldman’s’ short story).

Above quotes was just an example that people may have an expectation on what female and male should be. In the other hand, some people are not recognizing about ones’ behavior until that person act differently compared to others’ in the same gender. For instance, we often see some talk shows which exposed women with unusual jobs like a pilot, an air force member or even a bus driver and some other masculine jobs. Thus, they often seen as a “Super Woman” and this is happened since these women do something out of peoples’ expectations. This response will also happened to men, although the phenomenon of a “stayed at house dad” is already common nowadays, most people still cannot resist to feel awkward, weird and even see it as something that should not be done by men. These expectations could be simply called as a gender role and it may change, even vary from one to another. This article will review and examine what does the changes of the gender role and what influence it.

Gender role is defined as all things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively (Money, 1955) . The identical part about gender role and status also commonly contended by Schaefer (2006), that gender role defines as expectations of the proper behavior, attitudes and activities of males and females. Defining gender role deeper, Park (1996) argue in his paper about the two dimension of gender role itself as masculinity includes being aggressive, independent, objective, logical, rational, analytical and decisive while femininity as emotional, sensitive, expressive, cooperative, intuitive, warm and tactful nature. The statement also strengthen by William et al (2009) who argued that young girls are encouraged to be empathetic, social and caring, while young boys are encouraged to be brave, independent, and accomplished. From those explanation about gender role, it is obvious that gender role talked about how a person behave with gender as their base, it is like you are doing “A” because it is a proper behavior for a man or doing “B” because maybe in your family it is what a woman should do. It is also can be says as what a person should do or should not do as a male or female.

Talk about what should we do based on our gender, there is an interesting quotes by Shashi Deshpande, an Indian novelist which focusing her writes on feminism. She said:
“A wife should always be few feet behind her husband. If he is an MA you should be a BA .If he is 5’4’tall you shouldn’t be more than 5’3’tall. If he is earning five hundred rupees you should never earn more than four hundred and ninety nine rupees…
The above quote shows us that the traditional gender role which restricted male and female in India assumed that female should be less than male almost in everything.

Following above statement, Rosalind Barnett a Harvard Lecturer contended an argument in The Harvard’s education website (2008) that in previous era, there are some stereotypes or anecdote about “dad (man) who should hang his working suit after work and mom (woman) who use a pearl while doing the house chores”, this anecdotes means that a woman should only and capable only to do house core while the man is capable to earn money and some other meaningful economical activities. Even more, Schaefer argue that in 1940s – 1960s most of media shows female characters as helpless passive and incompetent, otherwise they also concerned that female has a high caring sense in which most of the character showed as a nurse or a voluntary worker. In the other hand men also experienced the same things as women, the gender role which suggested men to do the anti-feminine or even more self-reliant element give them some restrictions about how to behave. As William et al (2009) stated that individuals are expected to behave in ways that are consistent with their socially defined gender, and experience negative outcomes if they “deviate” from the gender prescriptions. It simply told that man should only do the masculine or “the man’s” activities and woman should do only the feminine or “the woman’s” activities.

However, some of the facts in previous discussion are no longer plausible in nowadays. This is caused by the changing of the gender role it-self. As Gallacher and Klieger (2001) argued that gender role can be considered as dynamic, it can be depend on age, life situation and even more race. Schaefer (2006) also stated that people around a person (e.g.: parents, siblings, other adults) give an important impact to form ones’ gender-role pattern. For instance, if a girl lived in a family in whom her mother is a career woman, she will have a belief that it is possible for her to become a career woman. These statements simply contended that social environment give us a huge impact on defining our gender-role.

When we talk about social environment, it will also identical with people or even more human as a social being. Social environment will changed as how human changed, as what Wren (2005) stated that human is a subject of continuous changes. The changes itself could be in a form of a changing assumption, or even change on how human react on certain situation, include the gender-role

Talk more about the changes, the restrictions of gender role itself is not awfully as rigid as before. Even though in some certain race or country the rigid restriction about how a man and woman should behave is still obviously occur, people in some other country have already changed their perspective regarding to the gender roles pattern or stereotypes, especially in the assumption where woman should do less than man, or woman should only do the “woman’s’ job” and so does with man. As what Rosalind Barnett (2008) says “ There have been dramatic changes in how men and women look their lives and what they are doing”, she also contended that women have experienced long changes in the past 50 years, recently women are getting married later and make up 50 percent of the work force. Furthermore, the shifted roles in the families also occur, Schaefer (2006) stated that in survey done in 2002 in U.S, 69 percent of respondent said that if one parents stays at home with the children, it makes no difference whether that parent is the mother or the father. Men’s role have also changed, Barnett (2008) also said that nowadays men have more responsibilities in the home and in caring for the children.

In the other hand discussing about the masculinity and femininity, those two branches of gender role also already diffused between each other. It can be seen in the evolving character that was played by female in many fiction movies which serve some female warriors character, even nowadays there are many movies described the character of a super busy career woman which described woman as a CEO, lawyer, or even some political roles. It is also happened to men, the men’s’ character also evolving. Nowadays there are many men’s’ character described as a metro sexual character in some fiction movies which often do feminine things like doing spa, or some other occupation like being a chef, being a designer, and etc.

Those evolving role not only happen in the cinematography area but also in the real world. Some males are now doing what used to call as “females” job and so does with females. There are male chefs, male designers, male beauticians, male nurses, so does female presidents, female CEOs, female drivers, etc. There might be some pros’ and cons’ on these phenomena, but at least it shows us that there is a change in the gender role and the restriction itself is not as rigid as before, as quoted from William et al (2009) : “such findings paint a picture of a society where some gender roles remain entrenched, although others appear to be shifting, at least at certain times or in particular context”.

As a conclusion, let us see what Barnett (2008) argued about this evolvement of gender role. She argued that even though the restrictions of gender role are not fully eliminated, but we are moving into a positive direction. Yes, it is not fully eliminated yet since there are still inequalities happen between genders, there are still the “glass ceiling” phenomena, or even worse about the “gender stereotype job” phenomena in nowadays. But the good point is, since the restriction is generally not as rigid as before –even if it still occur- , and nowadays people are more open minded on facing changes –and people will always change-, people will have more opportunity to seize their potential and interest without worrying much about their gender. Simply to say, as the time goes by and if this positive changes still evolve, the idea of “completely no boundaries for males and females to switch their roles” is plausible to be realize.

Daewoo Park, (1996),”Gender role, decision style and leadership style”, Women In Management Review, Vol. 11 Iss: 8 pp. 13 – 17

Gallacher, F., & Klieger, D. (2001). Sex role orientation and fear. Journal of Psychology, 129, 41–49.
Money, J. (1955). Gender and precocity in hyperadrenocorticism: Psychologic findings. Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 96, 253–264.

Schaefer, Richard T. 2006. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. Sixth Edition. International Edition. McGraw-Hill. Chapter 11 (Stratification by gender and age)

William Dmitri et al, (2009), “Looking for gender: gender roles and behaviors among online gamers”, Journal of Communication,p.700-725

Published at : Updated
Written By
ami fitri utami, SE., MSM
LS Business & Organization | School of Business & Management BINUS University
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