Gender roles accepted in society shape the lives of males and females according to different patterns. Since childhood, girls are expected to wear dresses and help their mothers with household chores, while boys are taught to be brave and get ready for their future careers. Although this traditional model, with women as housewives and men as breadwinners, is going out of date in the Western world, it is still prevalent in many cultures (Kretschmer, 2017). People become familiar with gender differences in childhood from their parents and the social environment, and it defines their lifestyles in the years ahead.
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Children learn many things about the world from their parents and their observations. Scholars have found out that, by the age of two, children can identify themselves as girls or boys; at four years, they realize that a person’s gender is fixed for life (Kambouri-Danos & Evans, 2019). By the age of five, they understand that, no matter what they wear or how they look, their gender remains the same (Kambouri-Danos & Evans, 2019).
Originally, children do not impose any behavioral restrictions related to gender on themselves (Kambouri-Danos & Evans, 2019). They learn gender stereotypes and proper behavioral models from their parents and society (Kambouri-Danos & Evans, 2019). For example, a girl does not know initially that she should wear dresses and play with dolls. She finds this out when her parents encourage and expect this behavior, and she starts following this pattern. Gender stereotypes imposed on children may lead to various negative outcomes and lost career opportunities in the future (Kambouri-Danos & Evans, 2019). For instance, if girls are convinced that their only role is to raise children, they may make no efforts toward building a career.
Until recently, gender differences were consistent around the globe. Women were supposed to be homemakers, and men were expected to support their families. Nowadays, Western societies have adopted egalitarian attitudes toward gender, emphasizing shared responsibilities for household and paid work (Kretschmer, 2017). However, in such cultures as Turkish or Eastern European, traditional gender differences persist.
It can be explained by these countries’ high religiosity because religion encourages traditional gender roles (Kretschmer, 2017). Furthermore, when people following certain behavioral patterns are not exposed to other systems of values, they tend to preserve their scheme of life (Kretschmer, 2017). Thus, cultures that are highly religious and so not interact with Western societies continue adhering to traditional gender role attitudes.
Kambouri-Danos, M., & Evans, A. (2019). Perceptions of gender roles: A case study. Early Years Educator, 20(11), 38-44. Web.
Kretschmer, D. (2017). Explaining differences in gender role attitudes among migrant and native adolescents in Germany: Intergenerational transmission, religiosity, and integration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(13), 2197-2218. Web.
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