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Gender Stigmas: From the Past to the Present

In the context of the 21st century, gender has become a construct, bringing together various elements of the puzzle that creates one’s identity. However, decades ago, the history of gender roles and their social perception underwent the phase of set rules predetermined for each gender, the violation of which caused major discrimination. These roles have later turned into stigmas, creating a row of negative assumptions concerning each gender. Researchers claim that stigmatization as a concept is aimed at identifying inequalities between men and women as flaws rather than distinctive and unique features (Campbell & Gibbs, 2016). The notion of gender stigma has recently extended significantly once transgender and gender non-conforming people claimed their role in society. Thus, although today’s world is moving towards stigma elimination, some negative assumptions on gender roles still interfere with human lives all over the world.

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If previously, women were not able to fulfill their career potential due to the predetermined roles of children rearing and stay-at-home housewives, the range of possibilities has significantly changed over the years. Feminism has introduced women to the ability to show their professional skills on equal terms with men, and the stigma of women having poorer cognitive abilities is almost eliminated today. However, the one gender stigma in terms of professionalism is still present. Employers are now often afraid to give women leading positions due to the fact they have children or are even planning to create a nuclear family. Such a fear could be explained by the stigma that the roles of an efficient employee and mother cannot coincide within one person. Thus, business owners do not fully realize the women’s potential for combining work and career.

The notion of masculine stigmatization in the workplace is not so common, as stereotypes expect men to have better cognitive skills and rational thinking. However, these assumptions often make men struggle with the mental stigmatization of being invincible to stress factors. Masculine employees, especially the ones who take management positions, are implicitly afraid of expressing their emotions in order to avoid vulnerability exposure (Dozier, 2017). Hence, in order to create an efficient team, employers have to bear in mind that gender roles and stigma cannot interfere with pure professionalism, as these notions have nothing in common.

Besides the misinterpreting of feminine and masculine gender roles, stigmatization also benefits the spreading of transphobia. Transgender people or people who do not identify themselves with a particular gender struggle with discrimination and disrespect because of superficial treatment. Quite frequently, they are not treated in a manner other people are, as society stigmatizes them as being “confused” rather than self-aware (Austin & Goodman, 2017). Over the past years, the transgender community has come a long way to appear in the place when they are free to introduce the pronouns they are willing to be called. However, while people seem to respect their withes, the idea itself is still perceived as a “phase” or a joke by the vast majority.

Taking everything into consideration, the notion of stigma is opposite to the idea modern society tries to convey to the world. People still struggle with negative assumptions and labels claimed by their surroundings on the basis of their gender affiliation or appearance. When it comes to gender stigmatization, it is difficult to say which gender is affected the most, as no people of the 21st century deserve this kind of treatment. The least people can do to combat this issue is to change personal attitudes towards others’ gender identity and self-perception.


Austin, A., & Goodman, R. (2017). The impact of social connectedness and internalized transphobic stigma on self-esteem among transgender and gender non-conforming adults. Journal of homosexuality, 64(6), 825-841.

Campbell, C., & Gibbs, A. (2016). Stigma, gender and HIV: case studies of inter-sectionality. In Gender and HIV/AIDS (pp. 29-46). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

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Dozier, R. (2017). Female masculinity at work: Managing stigma on the job. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 41(2), 197-209.

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