‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Gender Roles and Discrimination: then and Now

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‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Gender Roles and Discrimination: then and Now

This essay will discuss gender roles and discrimination in “A Raisin in the Sun.” It will compare the portrayal of gender dynamics in the play with contemporary issues, examining how the play’s themes remain relevant in the context of modern discussions on gender equality. At PapersOwl too, you can discover numerous free essay illustrations related to A Raisin In The Sun.

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Gender Inequality in A Raisin in the Sun

Despite the fact that boys and girls are encouraged to be whatever they desire at a young age, gender inequality is currently a monumental issue in the workplace. In the past, women were thought to be unfit to perform certain jobs that were deemed to be suited for men. Gender inequality is one prominent conflict out of many continuously seen in the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The Main characters, the Younger family, are an African American family struck by poverty and discrimination who battle with their struggles in a low-income Chicago neighborhood in the 1950s.

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Within their family, they often argue over what women should pursue as a career, which is a main issue in the play. Now, the jobs argued over in A Raisin in the Sun can be obtained by women with less criticism than in the 1950s, but they face discrimination within those jobs.

Evolved Gender Roles and Lingering Inequality

Though gender roles have evolved over time, the belief that women are inferior to men, which the Younger family faced, can still be felt by women in the workplace today. The characters in A Raisin in the Sun are unable to thrive or function healthily due to the gender roles they have placed on themselves. Walter, the father of the family, continuously shows his disdain toward his sister Beneatha’s dream. In Act I, Walter and Beneatha get into a habitual disagreement over Beneatha’s medical school. Walter says, “Who the hell told you you had to be a doctor? If you’re so crazy ‘bout messing ‘round with sick people-then, go be a nurse like other women-or. Just get married and be quiet…”. (Hansberry 38) In this quote, Walter belittles Beneatha and other Women and tries to force Beneatha into how he thinks a traditional woman is supposed to act. Beneatha is negatively affected by Walter’s unsupportive nature because, in a time when being a female doctor was uncommon, support from your family was vital.

A Brother’s Betrayal and Its Impact

Later in the play, Walter shows his disapproval of Beneatha’s ideal career in a more serious way. After Walter reveals to the family he lost all of the money, Mama asks, “You mean…your sister’s school money…you used that too…Walter?…” to which Walter responds, “Yessss! All of it… It’s all gone…” Walter’s irresponsible action of trusting someone with the money Mama gave to him jeopardized Beneatha’s career in the medical field and showed his lack of investment in his daughter. If he truly cared about his sister, he would have put the money into a savings account for her schooling. However, he instead risked all of the money so he would have a chance to start what he thinks is a man’s job, a business. The Younger family cannot thrive when their dream careers are being unsupported or function smoothly because of the fights that result from their disagreements over gender roles. The sexist comments made by Walter to Beneatha, along with the self-centered actions he committed, are reasons the Younger family is unable to thrive or function healthily.

Present-Day Workplace Discrimination

These forced gender roles faced by the Younger family, though evolved, are still an issue today in society. Today, it is not unusual for a woman to be a doctor or the numerous other jobs thought to be unfit for a woman back in the 1950s. Additionally, family members are typically more supportive of each other’s dreams because these jobs are now not thought to be man’s jobs. However, with these new, openly accepted opportunities, women still face discrimination in the workplace. Today on average, a woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,086 less than men’s, according to the US Census Bureau. The fact that women are still considered less than men because they are paid less is proven in this statistic.

Contemporary Inequalities and Their Impact

Another example of women being discriminated against is in sports. $37,800 is the pay ceiling per player for the National Women’s soccer team compared to an average of $300,000 plus for men’s Major League Soccer. Alex Morgan, who leads the way for equal pay in soccer, makes $450,000 as the highest-paid American female soccer player. This is in comparison to male players such as Landon Donovan, who earned $2 million. The women on the National team make about 40% of what men make on their National team, despite the fact the Women’s team has won more awards and tournaments. The impact that these statistics have on women today is that they get paid less and feel unfairly treated. Women today feel unjustly treated because even when they perform the same jobs and at times at better levels, on average, they are not paid as much as men. Women can feel insecure or angry that they are paid less, similar to the insecurity and anger felt by the women in A Raisin in the Sun and other women from that time.

The Continuing Relevance of Gender Roles

The fact that women are thought to be lesser shows gender roles are still a problem today. Women being unfairly treated in the workplace shows the forced gender roles faced by the Younger family are still an issue today in society, even though they have evolved. In the play, A Raisin in the Sun, and in today’s society, gender roles are a serious problem. A Character in A Raisin in the Sun named Beneatha faced conflict with gender roles when her father, Walter, verbally discouraged her dream of being a doctor and took action against it. Much like many other women during that time, in the 1950s, Beneatha faced discrimination against reaching for a successful job.

Today, though women can now reach those dreams without as much discrimination, they still face discrimination in the workplace by being paid less. These facts matter because men and women should be treated equally in the workplace, society, and everyday life. There should not be a reason women should be limited to the occupations and things they want to accomplish in their lives. And when they do reach their dream occupations, they should not be paid less than men who are performing the same job. In today’s society, we should all be treated equally and not be discriminated against by our gender or any other factor. Sadly, discrimination because of gender and countless other factors is still a major problem today, as it was in the 1950s. This is why at the beginning of the play, it is recorded that the play is set “sometime between World War II and the present.” (Hansberry 22). Discrimination can be faced at any time or place. This is why Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun is still relevant today and has a big impact on today’s society.


  • Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Random House, 1997, p. 22-38 pp.
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'A Raisin in the Sun' Gender Roles and Discrimination: Then and Now. (2023, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-raisin-in-the-sun-gender-roles-and-discrimination-then-and-now/