Gender norms have been around for as long as population, culture, and society have existed within different societal settings. These norms refer to the societal expectations of acting, speaking, dressing, and perceiving an individual based on the sex given at birth (Cislaghi 407). Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. How do gender stereotypes affect people? These gender norms enforce and dictate human personality traits, behaviour, occupations, physical and appearance. In a world so modern as today, it would be absurd to think that gender norms still significantly affect how we humans go about our way of life. However, sadly to say, these norms are embedded in our legal systems, oppression, and social acceptance. These realities bring up the question of how we continue to, whether we realize it or not, influence these toxic gender norms of men and women, and importantly, what can be done to break down the harsh stereotypes that will continue to hinder our youth. To find ways to combat the harsh realities of gender norms and stereotypes in our youth, it is first essential to fully dissect what these norms have done to our men and women in society.
Women are depicted as weak-minded, fragile, and passive beings. Beings’ incapable of doing the kind of labour that men typically do. Women who appear less feminine by having an opinion and going against the passive role get automatically classified as lesbians (not implying that being lesbian is anything to be looked down upon). However, it highlights that when women do more than what society has defined for them, their sexual orientation gets questioned for simply denying the little standard society placed on them (Ellemers 290). For example, stereotypes that confine the woman to the home and expect them to be caring and loving may be incorporated in other social settings such as schools which will affect their ability to pursue careers that are traditionally regarded as male careers. In the article “Real Women Tell Us About Their Experience Working in a Male-Dominated Field,” Kelly interviews women in male-dominated jobs and share their experiences. One participant who works in power tools marketing said that she had several experiences of her majority men co-workers assuming she does not know how to operate power tools properly and made her feel as though she must “fight twice as hard as my male counterparts to gain credibility in this field.” For experiences like this, it only pushes on the narrative that at home narrative is only a women’s career. These toxic working environments only prevent women from changing the narrative and courage to change the script.
Women’s environment significantly affects their ability to strive for success, especially in a male-dominated world. In her article, Iris Young’s paper “throwing like a girl” examines the distinctions in the feminine and male body movement’s norms from a gendered and embodied phenomenological viewpoint. The essay observes feminine body comportment, the three modalities of feminine motility with feminine surroundings, and the spatiality generated by modalities. Young’s article examines how views of the female body affect task performance and confidence, mainly drawing on philosophers De Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Simply put, she stated how our bodies act to the situation in a way that prevents a woman from achieving her true potential because of the society around us. She introduced the three modalities of feminine motility, which are ambiguous transcendence when females, for example, are tainted by society, so the bodies females cannot express transience and cannot do what we are meant to do because of society. The next step is inhibited intentionality, which means that when a woman starts a task with inhibited intentionality, she projects the activity’s potential, resulting in an “I can.” However, it also portrays them solely as “someone’s” possibilities, which women do not trust in their potential. As a result, females have limited body comportment and movement because they are anchored in immense. Through and through this paper took philosophers that she agreed and did not agree with and used their studies and her studies to conduct her definition and reason of why girls throw like “girls” and why a woman in anything that challenges or beckons the way of society.
Men in society are depicted as hostile, egotistical, emotionless beings and leaders of their households and breadwinners. When men stray away from this, they get depicted as less than or “not manly.” which also brings up the question of what qualities embody a “true man” to begin with. For instance, men are expected by society to be self-sufficient and not to portray any instance of weakness or vulnerability. Showing vulnerability in men is considered a weakness. An informative set of studies from 2015 (The Leadership Quarterly) finds that male leaders who generally seek for help are regarded as weak by their subordinates (Antonakis et al. 9). Furthermore, vulnerability in me is viewed as a sign of weakness and emotions at their workplace, they are perceived as having lower status (Taylor et al. 16). This is very problematic, as not seeking help when it’s needed or admitting areas for improvement inevitably leads to mistakes and less development. From men being most unable to show emotion and express themselves, it often leads to depression, alcoholism, and suicide. To add on, because of the high pedestal men are placed at in society, it was found that gay men are disliked significantly more than lesbians, conducted by three psychologists in New York University and published in the December issue of the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science. Furthermore, the reason for this is because gender norms behaviours that fuel a heteronormative system,” and being a gay man stereotypically goes against the behaviours of what a “normal” man should act and behave like.
In the journal “Are male leaders penalized for seeking help? The influence of gender and asking behaviours on competence perceptions” Ashleigh Shelby Rosette et al. analyzes the research of the publications about role congruity theory (RCT) and status incongruity (SIH).In her analysis of publications, she noted how men’s behaviours are evaluated as more prototypical of leader behaviour than women’s behaviours (Nye and Forsyth, 1991, Scott and Brown, 2006). As a result, there is a disparity in the evaluation of male and female leaders with the male leader more likely to be favorably evaluated compared to their female counterparts. In order to encourage innovation and improve employee performance within the organization leaders can rely on strategies that encourage employees to seek help in instances where they face difficulties. Conversely because the notion of men seeking help has been classified as a form of weakness, there is a need to establish strategies that will deal with this notion. This study posits that when male leaders seek help their perception of competence comes under strict scrutiny and regarded in a lower standard compared to those who do not seek help. Through the analysis, her overall message was that humans don’t have the answers to everything, and having some guidance and assistance is necessary for leading positions and life in general. Society’s patriarchy causes men to have this mindset to be “perfect” and to have all the answers.
Legal systems in America also have a way of promoting these gender stereotypes into the world. For example, the majority of the posts within the United States judicial system have traditionally been held by men. In recent times the institution has seen more and more women take up different posts still the number of men is higher than that of women. According to the bureau of labour statistics, across the U.S, lawyers in America, only 37.4% are significantly unbalanced women compared to men (Dutka 17). However, in Paralegal and legal assistant, only 85.8% is a woman (20). These statistics show how women are constantly concentrated at the bottom and how patriarchy is prevalent even in legal systems. Old-time stereotypes of men being aggressive, assertive, and decisive and women as friendly and cooperative have not vanished is why the lack of equal representation seems out of reach in the legal systems, and such beliefs cast long shadows within law firms. Firms that prize traits such as decisiveness tend to hire more men. To have an imbalance of gender working into the legal system promotes the same ideas being shared and little change being done.
Positivity, movements, and organizations have been done to lessen the hold of gender norms on society. One movement, in particular, called the “HeForShe” movement, which is a movement that promotes the advancement of gender equality, started by the United Nations. Movement-based on the idea that gender inequality is a problem that affects all people, socially, economically, and politically, the HeForShe movement serves as an effort that seeks to involve men and boys in achieving the ability by taking action against negative gender stereotypes and behaviours (Engstrom). There have been feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Woman, U.N. Women equity now, etc., that target efforts to change include fighting against gender stereotypes and establishing professional, educational outcomes for women equal to those for men.
Feminist movements have advertised and continued to campaign for women’s rights, including voting, holding public office, working, earning equal pay, owning property, receiving education, entering contracts, having equal rights within marriage, and maternity leave. According to an article published by harvard.edu, they discussed methods to stop gender stereotypes in the youth when being parents. One method they said is to create a bias-free home. Achieving this includes humans checking their own bias and being mindful of what they say and how their children receive it. Another is to divide chores evenly and not make them gender base like girls washing the dishes and boys taking out the trash. Another point of advice is made to teach the boys in the family to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to teach them it is okay to feel. It is okay to express empathy and teach young women to be leaders in a classroom, in clubs, and offer them. That way, men and women grow to their fullest potential and not be restricted by past biases. This article examines how we are taught and raised has stereotypes embedded into it, whether realized or not.
There is even stuff we as individuals can do to help the causes the big organizations are doing. One of the many ways to combat stereotypes is through self-evaluation. For example, pointing it out in like T.v shows, the internet, and other outlets and just simply starting a conversation with peers and start questioning the everyday life and question how the media influences such motives of unrealistic stereotypes. Another simple way to combat the cycle is being a living example, for example, being a model to peers and loved ones. Respect people regardless of their gender identity and create a safe place to express themselves how they want to be expressed. Also, another way is to speak up when peers are saying sexist, gender-stereotypical jokes and try to change their perspective on why that joke can be offensive or promote a narrative that we as a society should stray from. One of these little acts can be done to, in the long wrong, change and evolve for the better.
Even though gender stereotypes have been around quite some time and are deeply embedded in our ways of life, we have made tremendous change with the organizations and journal publications addressing the problem and stating that there is a problem. More importantly, starting a conversation. We have made tremendous growth with the LGBTQ+ community having more representation, woman’s right to vote, legalization of abortion… there is still work that needs to be done. We as a society must look within ourselves and others to understand the deformities that we have and start making changes. We might not be there to see the da where young men and women will not be tied down to gender stereotypes, but we will be there for the change and what to be.
Antonakis, John, et al. “The leadership quarterly: State of the journal.” The Leadership Quarterly 30.1 (2019): 1-9.
Cislaghi, Beniamino, and Lori Heise. “Gender norms and social norms: differences, similarities and why they matter in prevention science.” Sociology of health & illness 42.2 (2020): 407-422.
Dutka, Anna B. “Demographic trends in the labour force.” The changing U.S. labour market. Routledge, 2019. 15-32.
Engström, Olivia Emelie. “HeForShe Movement and Cultural Change: How Can the U.N. Universal Gender Equality Rhetoric Be Adapted to Local Cultural Practices?.” (2019).
Ellemers, Naomi. “Gender stereotypes.” Annual review of psychology 69 (2018): 275-298.
ETZ, KELLY. “Real Women Tell Us about Their Experience Working in a Male-Dominated Field.” NewsBreak, NewsBreak, 2 Aug. 2021, www.newsbreak.com/news/2328323387185/real-women-tell-us-about-their-experience-working-in-a-male-dominated-field. Accessed 18 Dec. 2021.
Iris Marion Young. “On Female Body Experience: ‘Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays.” Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2021, ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/on-female-body-experience-throwing-like-a-girl-and-other-essays/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2021.
Rosette, Ashleigh Shelby, et al. “Are Male Leaders Penalized for Seeking help? The Influence of Gender and Asking Behaviors on Competence Perceptions.” The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 5, Oct. 2015, pp. 749–762, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1048984315000223?via%3Dihub, 10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.02.001. Accessed 18 Dec. 2021.
Taylor, Christa L., et al. “Gender and Emotions at Work: Organizational Rank Has Greater Emotional Benefits for Men than Women.” Sex Roles (2021): 1-16.