Kids and Gender Roles in Contemporary Society: How We Are Perpetuating Gender Inequality

Kids and Gender Roles in Contemporary Society: How We Are Perpetuating Gender Inequality

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After a drought of disposable income in my life from unemployment, I had witnessed some promising clouds forming on the horizon. I had been called into a job interview, and asked my mother if she thought my attire met professional standards. After a brief once-over, she said only “you need to put on more make-up if you want them to take you seriously. Put your best face forward.” Like my mother, many others, and every Google search on “interview tips” has ever said before, it is considered more professional of a woman to wear a moderate amount of makeup than it is to wear none at all—a standard not expected of men. It seems bizarre that this and many other separate rules exist, and yet few acknowledge it that it’s a problem. Our cavalier nature towards such different gender roles would suggest that it is something we grew accustomed to as children. These are normal attitudes, because that’s just the way it is. Or is this approach to gender inhibiting the advancement of true gender equality? Although many parents would disagree, there is mounting evidence to suggest that raising children to fulfill strict gender roles is a major contributor to continuing gender inequality in American society.
For the sake of clarity, let’s define the word “gender.” Socially, we associate the word “gender” very closely with the word “sex”, to the point where most people think the words are interchangeable. The word sex refers primarily to the external genitalia someone was born with. Gender, however, is a socially invented construct, in which American society in particular “…assumes that there are [only] two sexes, male and female, and flowing from those two sexes are two genders, masculine and feminine, and that all people fall into one of those...

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... Examining Gender Roles in Television Commercials Targeted at Children in India and the United States. Normal: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Barnett, Rosalind, and Caryl Rivers. "Children Do Not Naturally Segregate by Sex." Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs. Cambridge, MA: Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Berrigan, Frida. “Who Needs Gender Norms? Not Children—That’s For Sure.” Huffington Post for Parents. Huffington Post. 23 Aug. 2013. 30 April 2014.
Crozier, W. Patience. “Forcing Boys to be Boys: The Persecution of Gender Non-Conforming Youth.” BC. (2010): 123. Web.
Siegel, Deborah. “Born That Way.” TEDTalks. Chicago. 14 Mar. 2014. Lecture.
Witt, Susan. “Parental Influence on Children’s Socialization to Gender Roles.” Diss. California Polytechnic University, 2008. Web.

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