Understanding Gender Roles in Psychology
Gender roles are largely a theoretical construct which indicates the behavioral norms and social norms available in specific cultures which are deemed appropriate to a specific gender (Lee 5). Gender roles are thus a reflection of the natural aspirations of the members of that gender. The obvious physical differences existing between males and females have resulted to different orientations of men and women in regard to the kind of tasks they undertake. The left hemisphere of the brain of females is stronger thus they perform better in tasks requiring speech articulation and language manipulation. Males largely dominate in the tasks requiring right hemisphere domination thereby performing better in tasks requiring physical manipulation like aiming or moving objects. On standardized achievement tests, males score higher while in meeting the set out social obligations like good behavior in class or producing neat work the females score higher.
When I was growing up, there were specific gender roles which I undertook while others were undertaken by my sister. Thus in order to instill the perception that men ought to be strong I undertook such tasks as driving, washing my parents car or mowing the lawn. On the contrary, my sister was involved in such household tasks as cooking, childcare, cleaning the house and dusting the house surfaces. She also assisted my mother to undertake such tasks as buying presents during such occasions as weddings and birthdays as well as writing thank you notes after important occasions took place. My sister thus undertook these tasks in order to prepare her to for her role of taking care for the family as the gender roles stipulates that the woman is the primary doer of household tasks. Food shopping, cooking, general household looks and cleanliness are female roles which my sister was prepared to undertake owing to the tasks she was given to undertake when we were growing up. Thus my parents modeled the gender roles to meet the specified societal requirements for boys and girls in a bid to transform them into men and women in the future.
Socialization can be described as a relational procedure between children and their parents with the prime objective of building gender identity in the child (Weiten 179). Our actions, thoughts and behaviors are as a result of socialization thus from my childhood, existing cultural standards and attitudes clearly outlined the society’s expectations of the behavior I was to demonstrate. The kind of modeling and molding I received when growing up was largely intended to shape the kind of person society expected me to become. For instance the roles which I undertook were clearly intended to exude strength as well as engaging in dangerous professionals. It is through socialization that I learnt the appropriate behavior for males and females. The family I grew up in had massive influence in socializing me to acquire the gender roles I did. In order to establish my gender identity as a man the home environment had features that can best be described as manly. I interacted mostly with my father who largely shaped the educational and behavioral attributes I achieved. Largely the stereotypes in regard to the functionality of men as strong and non emotional was acquired through the way my parents dressed me, the toys they bought as well as the way my room was decorated. For instance most of my toys comprised of machine guns and toy cars and trucks. My room was largely painted with cool colors like blue and earth hues like brown. My parents’ attitudes and behaviors towards my actions largely socialized me to becoming a macho man. For instance, they would reprimand me when I cried and told me that men are not supposed to cry. My parents dressed me in jeans and suits largely in dull colors unlike my sister who was dressed in lovely brightly colored dresses. I was expected to act in a more mature manner unlike my sister. For instance, I was allowed much time out playing with my friends unlike my sister who was expected to be in the house most of the time. A close gender relationship developed between me and my mother which largely stipulated the manner in which I ought to establish the traditional roles of a man as required in the society. The roles which my sister undertook were largely intended to make her demonstrate tenderness, nurturing pursuits as well as demonstrating care. Her toys were mostly dolls, baby toys and toy vacuum cleaners. She was taught to behave passively especially when in the company of boys.
In conclusion, gender socialization plays an important role in making it possible to understand different gender roles in individuals (Sigelman and Rider 36). As the above examples and description clearly demonstrates both males and females have consistent fundamental ways in which their stipulated roles are disseminated from their parents, care givers as well as siblings and peers. Although today’s society has largely become liberal in as far as gender roles are concerned, the socialization process is a clear indication that adults already have mental pictures in regard to the manner in which children of different genders are brought up. Through imitation and conditioning I identified my future important role of being a family provider. Although men are traditionally regarded as the bread winners of their families, this role is gradually changing with many women being in professionals which were traditionally occupied by men thereby providing to their families. During the World War II, women were involved in such professions as clerical tasks which earlier on were being regarded as male professions. Others were deployed to the war zones to fight and provide the necessary support like medical care.
Lee, Janic. Gender roles. New York, U.S.A: Nova Publishers, 2005
Sigelman, Carol and Rider, Elizabeth. Life-Span Human Development. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning, 2005
Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning, 2008