There are five gender socialization that influences one’s gender roles. The five gender socialization are family, peer, school, religion, and media.
Every child has some kind of influence by their family, especially their parents. Parents would encourage certain behaviors in their child because of the expectations they have for their child’s future (Raley, 2006). Family dynamics can influence gender roles which can be seen when children do household duties (Cunningham, 2001). Girls are normally seen to do more household duties than boys.
The housework that are assigned to the children are often assigned based on their genders. For example, girls are usually assigned to clean the house, do laundry, cook, and look after younger siblings. For guys, there are usually expected to fix the house, take out the trash, and fix cars. This is why family influences gender role expectations on children. Even the toys that parents buy are gender specific. Parents usually buy dolls for their daughters and toy cars for their sons (Witt, 1997). Most parents choose activities that they think their children will enjoy.
For example, parents usually put their daughters in dance, gymnastics, or ice skating and for their sons, sports that involves contact. By the time children enters preschool or kindergarten, they have a general understanding of the two genders and have internalized some basic gender roles and appearances of each (Calvert, 2013). Children learn most of their general understanding of gender roles through parental interaction, media, and biological factors but they may also learn from social interaction with outside people. The understanding of gender roles changes when children start school.
The children will encounter different approaches to gender, obtain new information and outlook to fit into social situations (Alder, 1992). For example, to be the most popular male in the school, they would need to be the best athlete at the school. For those who are not athletic, they would need to be interested in sports so that the popular peers do not harass them for not acting like normal guys. For girls, they would need be mimic societal standards of beauty to make themselves more attractive to boys to more popular. In academic achievement, boys are often shamed for having scholastic success and is seen as an indication of femininity (Alder 1992). Girls are often more likely to value the effort that they put into academic success than boys. Young boys would often stay away from the opposite sex until they mature and understand what it means to be a man or a woman because they feel like associating with the opposite gender is wrong and socially unacceptable (Maccoby, 1990).
Opposite gender relationships are often viewed as a romantic thing and if they are just friends it is often viewed as suspicious. Teenagers often seek relationship with others that are in the same social groups.With the efforts of parents and teachers shaping the children’s gender roles, children also learn through media which they are exposed to everyday. For preschool aged children, an important source information is picture books written specifically for their age group.
A study has found that picture books for the preschool children, often shows male characters more active and explorative, and the female characters are passive and social (Oskamp, 1996). Parents teach their children about masculinity and femininity intentionally and unintentionally, but children still learn a great deal from media. With their young minds, information from media can shape the children’s view on gender roles in society (Powell, 2002). There was a study which looked at sex role in television programs that are aimed for young children. The study found that gendered messages and behavior are present in young children television shows. Most of the television programs show leadership, appearance, gendered roles, occupation, and play roles are specific to genders (Powell, 2002). An example is some children program often shows that males serve as leaders and wear darker colored clothing.
The pattern of the programs displays that males lead and females follow. Another gender role is that males are generally shown to be more active while females are shown to be more social and passive. In religion, gender differences can be categorized either internal or external. Internal religious issues focus on the beliefs and practices about the roles and the rights of men and women. External religious issues is the examination of a religion from an outsider’s perspective. For example, religious perspective that have either supported or condemned family structures, abortion, and homosexual relationships (Unborn Child Protection Bill, 2016).
Studies have shown that females are more religious than males. There are three theories on why women are more religious. One theory states that women feel more emotions than men do, so women tend to turn to religion when they feel heightened emotions (Schmitt, 2015). Second theory is that the female socialization aligns with religious values such as mediation, tenderness, conflict, and humility (Jacobbs, 2017).
Male socialization is the opposite, they often emphasize rebellion which makes religion less appealing. The most recent theory is that females sees the natural consequences of societal structures. For example, most religion emphasize that men work away from home and women work inside the home, so women who work inside their home are most likely religious (De Vaus, 1987).
Gender roles can also be seen in friendships and peer interactions at young ages. Studies have shown that boys and girls interact with same-sex children more frequently than with opposite-sex children (Rose, 2006). One study has found that boys, ages 3-5 years old, would be affiliate with same-sex peers more than girls. Boys would often visit and spend significantly more time with the same-sex peers than girls would (Benenson, 2012). A different study has found that boys like to engage in coordinated group activities and girls in individual interactions with same-sex peers (Benenson, 1997). A study has shown that boys are more likely to be friends with one another overtime than girls (Rose, 2006).
In terms of peer interaction, young girls have been found to spend more time in social conversation and self-disclosure than boys. Girls have also been found to respond to hypothetical conflict situations during middle childhood and early adolescence years (Rose, 2006). Studies has reveal significant effects indicating that girls are more likely to receive friendships with higher levels of closeness, affection, nurturance, trust, validation, and acceptance than boys, but there are no difference in friendship satisfaction. Family is very important to me. I care about what my family thinks of me and expect of me.
I am very different than what my family wanted me to grow up as but they still influenced my gender role in one way or another. One way that my family influenced my gender role is always emphasizing that I am a female and the oldest so I have to look after the younger siblings and care for them. I am always looking after my younger siblings and my neighbors toddlers. I may not dress the way that my family wants me to dress but I still know what they expect from me.
My friends has influenced me the most. One reason why is that I rebel against most of the roles that my mother wants me to be. My peers encourages me to be who I am and do what makes me happy.
There are some times where my friends try to put makeup on me and make me wear dresses but most of the time they just let me be who I am. A gender role that was influenced by my peers is caring. My group of friends are always caring and there for each other no matter the situation. They know that they can come to me when they need me and I can go to them when I need them. Media did not really influenced my gender roles.
I watch a good amount of television and read a lot of books but I know that what the media shows is not what I want to be. Some media has shown that women are not taken seriously as men. I do not want to be someone who is looked down on because of my gender so I try to present myself as someone that would not get intimidated and easily manipulated. Looks is another influence that media affected me. Media has influenced me that females should look a certain way, specifically their size. I do not like that I am always concerned about my body size.
Media has made me want to look skinny and have a body shape like an hourglass. I always look at my body and think why can’t I have skinny legs and a flat stomach. Media has the biggest influence on my body image.
School has influenced who I am today. A gender role that school has influenced me is that females should be respectful, responsible, and trustworthy. Females should not rebel against the teachers and have academic success. To me, most of these things should not just be for females but males to, but I know that in society, men are more rebellious and think that school is not as important as sports are.
School has also influenced that it does not matter what gender you are to play a sport as long as you are committed and does not affect academic grades. Religion did not influenced my own gender role because I was never religious. Growing up, I knew that we had to light an incense every morning to respect our ancestors. We did not go to the temple unless it was for Chinese New Year. My family did not preach religion and their beliefs on us. Slowly, my mother became a little more buddhist but she did not force us into believing as deeply as her. She just needed us to understand that we need to respect people and that karma is real. That is why religion does not influence my gender roles.
A positive gender role that I have learned is that it is easier to get hired in a career that suits the gender. For example, it would be easier for women to get hired as a babysitter or nurse than men would because women are known to be more nurturing than men are. For men, it would be easier for them to get hired in security or engineering because men are known to be stronger and more rational than women are. A negative gender role that I have learned is that excelling in a field that is preferred by the opposite sex would be hard. An example would be a woman and a man are being considered to be promoted.
The company would more likely to go with the man because men usually show confidence in their talking and women would be less confidence. Women usually uses phrases that make them need reassurance and that is why most companies would choose a man for the promotion than a woman. I did changed and abandoned gender roles that I grew up with. I mostly abandoned the gender roles because I was not interested in it and was making me unhappy. One activity that I have abandoned is dance. Like most young girls, I was signed up for dance by my parents. I did not like it at all and it was not something that I wanted to do. I struggled through it until 10 years old and just quit and continue doing sports that were not approved by my parents.
Another gender role that I abandoned was dressing really feminine. Growing up, I did not go shopping for my clothes. My mother made all my clothes and jeans so there was no way around me dressing the way I wanted to be dressed. Once I was old enough and had money to buy my own clothes, I bought clothes that were not too feminine and were comfortable.
I felt like dressing up in dresses, skirts, and girly clothing does not show people who I am.