Consider Your Gender Role

Across the world, children receive different messages about what it means to be a man or a woman. Every culture has its own definition of gender roles and identity. These have as much to do with the culture as they do to biological differences. These days, gender role identity is going through rapid change and is being challenged on many fronts.

In the 1990s I created a table that summarized general gender differences in US culture. I based the right side of the table on research about women from the Stone Center at Wellesley College. The material on the left side, about men, is based on my own observations and the research on the psychology of men in the USA.

Your Reflection
Look at the table and think about where you stand.
The table represents gender stereotypes. We are not all stereotypes. Some of us have more behaviors that are typical of the opposite sex than of our own sex. This is not good or bad. It is just a reality. Gender is a construct not a biological given.
Review the table and rank the descriptors 1-5 which best capture your mindset and approach.

Male Belief
Very much like me
Not Like Me
Not at all like Me
Traditional Female Belief
Develop independence, self-reliance, autonomy
Develop and maintain relationships
Place importance on following personal dreams, destiny and self-fulfillment
Place importance on connectedness to others
Emphasize learning the rules (what’s right or fair)
Emphasize learning empathy skills and relating
In a game, it’s winning that counts
In a game, it’s the personal relationships that count
Emphasize competition
Emphasize cooperation
Conceal feelings (except anger)
Express feelings (except anger)
Emphasize occupational growth
Emphasize family growth
See a problem and want to fix it
See a problem and want to talk about it

Once you are through ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you fall exactly into either of these gender stereotypes? Where are the areas where you may differ?
  • If you are from a different society than mainstream US, how different are the gender roles in your society? Are they more fluid or more rigid than in the USA?
  • If and when you have children, what gender roles do you want to teach them?

I’d be interested in seeing your responses.

For more information please refer to my book: Self-Aware: A Guide for Success in Work and Life.  I’d appreciate if you left a review on Amazon.
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