Gender roles refer to the societal perception of how people should function and conduct themselves based on their sex as either male or female. Gender roles stereotypes are strong beliefs about these specified gender roles (Shin et al., 2018). The stereotypes differ based on cultural settings and change over time. Gender expectations shape the way people perceive others and situations and their reactions towards them. Society expects females to be kind and sociable and men to be bold and antagonistic (Endendijk et al., 2016). These beliefs contribute to biases in various sectors such as education, the job market, and other social institutions (Middleton et al., 2019). Gender stereotypes also influence parenting techniques on disciplinary measures and shape children’s behavior. Gender role bias is a roadblock to freeing women from discrimination.
Theory on Gender Role-Stereotypes
Various theories explain gender-role stereotypes, such as the gender schema theory by Sandra Bem. The theory suggests that children gain knowledge of male and female functions from their culture. Culture shapes a child’s cognitive development from their early years, influencing their perception of male and female responsibilities and traits (Starr & Zurbriggen, 2017). A child develops gender behavioral patterns by observing the community they reside. The proposition characterizes individuals into four groupings, sex-typed, cross-typed, androgynous, and undifferentiated (Starr & Zurbriggen, 2017). The perception of sex-typed people on gender and situations are influenced by their preconceived gender stereotypes. Cross-typed persons view circumstances and issues through the prism of the other sex (Starr & Zurbriggen, 2017). The androgynous category portrays both womanly and manly thinking processes. Lastly, undifferentiated people thinking patterns are not congruent with gender schema (Starr & Zurbriggen, 2017). The theory explains the source of discriminatory practices in society.
The gender intensification in adolescence postulation by Hill and Lynch builds on the gender schema theory. The theory asserts that the adolescent stage has the highest potency of shaping beliefs and conducts on gender roles and stereotypes (Sravanti & Sagar Kommu, 2020). The puberty stage shapes the identity of an individual, including gender roles. Adolescents are constantly under pressure to adhere to the already established patterns of gender roles and stereotypes. The postulation suggests that exposing teenagers to an environment that helps them question the societal archetype of gender discrimination and other negative patterns helps them become open-minded (Sravanti & Sagar Kommu, 2020). The optimum stage of shaping individuals to exhibit androgynous identity is puberty.
Gender Role-Stereotype and Child Aggression
According to Endendijk et al. (2016), gender-role stereotypes influence child aggression behaviors. The study employed a longitudinal approach and assessed the link between child sex and aggression through parental physical control, influenced by the guardian’s gender biases. The study established that guardians with strong gender bias beliefs are more likely to use physical disciplinary measures on their sons than daughters (Endendijk et al., 2016). On the other hand, male parents opposed to gender differences are more likely to use physical punishment for their daughters than their sons. Furthermore, the father’s perception of gender roles and their distinctive treatment of their children contribute to the gender differences in a child’s antipathetic behavior (Endendijk et al., 2016). Children whose fathers are violent or employ physical disciplinary measures are more prone to displaying aggressive behaviors. However, the mother’s attitude toward gender roles and disciplinary practices has little to no influence on child aggression.
Gender Role-Stereotypes in Education
Islam & Asadullah (2018) show the role of educational institutions in fostering gender role stereotypes. The study performed a quantitative content analysis of high school English textbooks used for teaching in Malaysia, Indonesia. The study proved that schools in Malaysia are dependent on books that promote masculinity to educate female students. The written and pictorial content of the books analyzed were masculine, with over 55% (Islam & Asadullah, 2018). Additionally, the female characters in those books were fewer than the male characters. The female characters were also assigned domesticated roles such as nurturing children and running households (Islam & Asadullah, 2018). The teaching materials condition the female students to accept the cultural gender stereotypes and skew their perception of the male gender. Discriminative course book contents are a grave threat to achieving gender equality in developing economies and have limited research to influence change.
According to Starr & Simpkins (2021), the gender stereotypes of high school students, their instructors, and parents affect their outcomes in Mathematics and Science. The study employed a longitudinal approach and sampled individuals in the USA from 9th to 11th grade (Starr & Simpkins, 2021). The research established that the parent’s biases on the subjects influenced the attitudes of their teenage children. Additionally, parents are thrice more probable to harbor the view that male children are better in Mathematics and Science than their female counterparts (Starr & Simpkins, 2021). The student’s beliefs on the subjects influenced their identity in them and subsequently influenced their performance.
Gender Role-Stereotypes in Advertising
Middleton et al. (2019) examine how women’s role in advertising is detrimental to promoting gender equality in Brazil. The research is qualitative, using semi-structured questionnaires to collect information from advertising content creators on their view of female model biases. Societal norms and perceptions of women shape the advertising industry in Brazil as the content creators must design schemes that are appealing and acceptable to their audiences (Middleton et al., 2019). The research shows that the stereotypes portray female models as domesticated, trophies, seductive, sexual objects, beauty queens, and professionals (Middleton et al., 2019). The gender discriminative roles perpetuate the existing stereotypes and convey to society that they are on the right track while diminishing women.
Gender-Role Stereotypes in Career
Shin et al. (2018) assess the effects of career gender stereotypes on the career choice and career adaptability of female students in South Korea. The research sampled both male and female undergraduate students in South Korea and used the Implicit Association Test to quantify the absolute gender-career bias (Shin et al., 2018). The inquiry established a link between societal gender expectations and career decisions for female undergraduates. The implicit gender stereotypes also correlated with the adjustability of female students in their career journey (Shin et al., 2018). South Korean women and other women must identify the gender biases that hinder them from actualizing their full career potential and develop mechanisms to mitigate them.
Gender-role stereotypes are the functions that society prescribes to individuals based on their sexuality. The gender schema theory postulates that children acquire gender role stereotypes from society. The best time to influence the thinking and perception of people in their adolescent stage as their identity is still under construction. Gender role biases influence a child’s aggression, perception of subjects, and overall performance in school. The stereotypes define a woman’s job function in advertising, especially as a sexual object, and influence career decisions.
Endendijk, J. J., Groeneveld, M. G., van der Pol, L. D., van Berkel, S. R., Hallers-Haalboom, E. T., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Mesman, J. (2016). Gender differences in child aggression: Relations with gender-differentiated parenting and parents’ gender-role stereotypes. Child Development, 88(1), 299–316.
Islam, K. M., & Asadullah, M. N. (2018). Gender stereotypes and education: A comparative content analysis of Malaysian, Indonesian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi school textbooks. PLOS ONE, 13(1).
Middleton, K., Turnbull, S., & de Oliveira, M. J. (2019). Female role portrayals in Brazilian advertising: Are outdated cultural stereotypes preventing change? International Journal of Advertising, 39(5), 679–698.
Shin, Y.-J., Lee, E. S., & Seo, Y. (2018). Does traditional stereotyping of career as male affect college women’s, but not college men’s, career decision self-efficacy and ultimately their career adaptability? Sex Roles, 81(1-2), 74–86.
Sravanti, L., & Sagar Kommu, J. V. (2020). Gender intensification in adolescence. Journal of Psychosexual Health, 2(2), 190–191.
Starr, C. R., & Simpkins, S. D. (2021). High school students’ math and science gender stereotypes: Relations with their stem outcomes and socializers’ stereotypes. Social Psychology of Education, 24(1), 273–298.
Starr, C. R., & Zurbriggen, E. L. (2017). Sandra Bem’s gender schema theory after 34 years: A review of its reach and impact. Sex Roles, 76, 566–578.