Gender Relations, Gender Roles and Beliefs
Gender inequality often manifests itself in various ways including unequal access to such things as education, power, resources, as well as socio-cultural practices that are discriminatory. (Kagasten, Gibbs, Blum, et al., 2016). It is the primary determinant for differentials in sex for both mortality and morbidity. Gender inequality affects the lives of both men and women or boys and girls; women are more disadvantaged than men. At the foundations of most gender inequalities, there are gender norms which often suggest differencing opportunities, power, as well as a status to men and women in accordance to versions of femininity and masculinity that are appropriate culturally. These gender norms are termed as stereotypical harmful, inequitable, or unequal (Kagasten, Gibbs, Blum, et al., 2016). Across time and place, every setting of culture socializes people both secretly and openly from the time they are born so that they conform to the regulations of being men or women.
Globally, there is a critical challenge concerning the empowerment of women economically. Reports show that only half of the women who are in the age of working are in the labor force. They also earn approximately 24 percent less when compared to men and are not likely to be given a pension (Ramos, 2019). The OECD in 2014 also reported women are mostly found concentrated in employment that is not only hazardous but also informal. They are found working in domestic as well as an unpaid car two and a half times more in comparison to men (Ramos, 2019). In almost all schools, science, mathematics, engineering and technology related courses are less likely to be chosen by girls since they often go for those that are not much promising. This is driven by the governing frameworks and the policies set. Some social institutions are discriminatory and in addition to reproducing mindsets, they also birth gender stereotypes mainly going and working against women.
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Gender norms may not necessarily cause harm to the wellbeing of girls and their development since they at times enable in the development of some of their skills as well as knowledge which might be beneficial for them in both their adolescence and life as grown-ups (Marcus & Harper, 2015). However, these norms contribute and are often a reflection of inequalities especially in the distribution of both resources and power. Often, women are disadvantaged by the gender norms which are in practice, by limiting the opportunities of development of girls as well as undermining their welfare (Marcus & Harper, 2015).
It is true that through socialization, gender is implanted in people from the time they are born. For instance, it is common for things for infants to be differentiated using color since boys are associated with the color blue and girls pink. This notion is a gender norm that most individuals in society have imbued concerning infants (Lumen Learning, 2019). While a boy gets a ball as a present say for his birthday, a girl will likely be given a doll. Such behavior will cause children to socialize and accept these norms. Families also set examples that are important for an individual’s socialization, for instance, if the children get used to the fact that their father is the breadwinner while their mother acts as the homemaker, they will take this as the acceptable social norm as they grow up. On the other hand, if a child grows up in a family where the woman is the primary source of income, couples from the same sex, or single parents, they will have different ideas concerning gender norms (Lumen Learning, 2019).
Some children can defy the rules set by society and choose not to adopt the gender norms that are perpetuated when they are born (Lumen Learning, 2019). It is seen when children insist on putting on clothes that are associated with a gender different from their own. They may also decide that they want to play with toys of children from the other gender and most of the time they play with children of the opposite sex. This is termed as a deviant activity which many sociologists are studying to understand better.
Generally, masculine and feminine individuals, as well as cultures, will differ in their communication with other people. For example, you will notice that people who are feminine have a tendency of disclosing things about themselves in details that are more intimate than how much those who are masculine do. Also, feminine people will communicate more affectionately, intimately and with more confidence than the masculine ones (Lumen Learning, 2019). When it comes to building friendships with people from the same gender, masculine people will do so on the basis of common interests while feminine ones will do the same based on the support they give each other mutually. When it comes to initiating friendships of the opposite gender, however, both genders do so based on similar factors such as comfort, affection, effort, novelty, and acceptance among others (Lumen Learning, 2019).
Commonly, there is a misperception by most people in the society about how far the gender norms that exist are of benefit to them since they view inequalities as something natural and are closed to change (Marcus & Harper, 2015). Due to how the norms assist in the maintenance of inequalities especially in accessing power as well as resources, most people will find themselves upholding and supporting norms that are discriminatory. The people who are most advantaged in this are adult men, but boys who are in their adolescence have a share in the gender norms that give them a better hand when compared to girls. For instance, they are likely to be given more freedom and power, access to resources is also better for them, and they rest assured that they will have more power as they approach their adulthood. Some old women may also uphold the discriminatory norms indirectly especially if they have shared in the benefits of the prestige of their sons, or having daughters-in-law who take up the responsibility of doing all the housework (Marcus & Harper, 2015).
The behaviors and rules applied to everyday life in schools, at home, in the market places and workplace, are not the only way that children learn gender norms that are discriminatory, but also in social institutions that are wide (Marcus & Harper, 2015). They include the education system, a religion that is organized, media, as well as social structures that are traditional. People conform to these norms since they are mindful of the approval of other people although the norm does not settle well with them. For example in some countries especially in Africa, you will likely find a father sending all his children to school, both boys and girls, as the society has labeled it the right thing to do but not because they believe in educating the girl child. Most individuals also comply with such norms due to the fear that the reactions they get from others will be adverse (Marcus & Harper, 2015). There is, therefore, an urgent need for efforts to be put in the replacement of gender norms that discriminate against a specific gender with practice in addition to more equitable attitudes.
In America, the masculinity and femininity of black people have been used to oppose that of the whites because of the racism that was laid as a foundation while the country grew (University of Pittsburgh, 2014). Today, black men have to be appointed to higher degrees in comparison to the whites due to the slavery they underwent and the era of Jim Crow. During that time, the black men were denied of performing duties that were deemed masculine so that power would never be allotted to them. They were degraded, and their self-esteem was lowered. Black masculinity cannot be defined enough no matter how much they try to act like white men (University of Pittsburgh, 2014). The same can be said in a discussion concerning the femininity of white as well as black women. Due to the paradigm of racism historically, it is challenging to define masculinity or femininity across races. One cannot discount the struggle that black people due to the struggle they underwent as a result of their color in the attempt to describe the struggles man has gone through.
Stereotypes can either help black women leaders become better or hurt them (Miller, 2019). This is because women are usually viewed in a negative light when they portray masculine behavior. If a female leader is assertive, people tend to dislike her while their male counterparts are accorded the utmost respect. Black women are more likely to be stereotyped unlike white ones for being confident rather than feminine. It is so even though depicting masculine traits in black women leadership is acceptable. They show dominating tendencies of white men unlike the black men and white women who are more robust than caring (Miller, 2019). It is therefore difficult to eliminate either sexism or racism.
In conclusion, gender inequality is silently eating up our society, and people are oblivious about it. It begins from the time a child is born and is later ended by institutions of education, religion, and the society in general. Racism is also related to masculinity and femininity where white and black women are given different treatments. It is sad that the people in this time and generation are still racists and sexists.