30 Aug 2022


Gender Roles in Society: Definition & Overview

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Social norms refer to the unwritten rules about how individuals are expected to carry themselves in terms of behavior. Some of these characteristics include how a person greets another, sits during a conference and even the amount of personal space between two people. On the other hand, gender roles are a smaller branch of social norms where expectations based on an individual’s behavior are observed. In the workplace, these roles are binary in that men are expected to do perceived masculine duties such as be on the management team, whereas women are expected to do the perceived feminine duties such as personal assistant and secretarial jobs. These roles are not defined accurately due to the fact that they are mere stereotypes. As a matter of fact, many men and women are doing jobs which are not socially accepted to belong to their gender (Huddleston, 2016). 

People may subconsciously develop certain stereotypes because of their experiences or regular behavioral patterns. Human beings find it difficult to forego the patterns that they are used to, thus prefer to base their judgments on these biases. Moreover, when these social norms are violated, people are likely to consider the action or behavior as incredible. As a result, they subconsciously try to realign the situation by making their perceived responses work. Regardless of the gender an individual belongs to, most people are ignorant about the social biases they possess. For instance in the work-place, the environment is more often than not structured in a masculine form. As a result, women are likely to face gender-based biasness unlike their male counterparts. This essay will examine both male and female gender roles and how they affect the gender roles in the society in both a positive or negative way (Huddleston, 2016). 

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In regards to gender roles, men are expected to be strong .This means that they are not socially allowed to have emotional breakdowns in public. Moreover, there is the expectation of rationality where men are required think with a sober mind before partaking any actions or rather decisions. Further, courage is another quality that society expects men to exhibit. No matter the circumstances, men should never show fear as it is portrayed as a sign of weakness. Self-reliance is an additional role whereby a man who depends on others for anything especially money is considered useless to the society. 

In terms of honor, the first characteristic expected from men is duty. They are expected to be hard-working because lack of success in men is assumed to mean laziness on their part. Moreover, men who are responsible for their actions such as how they raise their families are admired in the society. Other characteristics such as compassion, denial of self-pleasures for others, loyalty, compassion and the ability to generate income and ways of doing things are just among the few things that men are expected to fulfill. 

Lastly every man in the society is expected to have the power of action. This means that they should be able to cope with the ever competing work and social environment without despair. They should not shy away from taking risks for fear of losing. Men are required to be ambitious in such a manner that they set future plans and actions to implement these particular plans way ahead of time. Additionally, it is important for men to express the power of volition where they are self-driven in carrying out various tasks. 

Women on the other hand have gender-based roles. In regards to personality traits, women are expected to be passive and submissive. They are more often than not expected to follow the rules and decisions that their male counterparts make without question. Self- confidence and aggression are opposed by society as rude because they are not perceived as feminine. Moreover, women are expected to carry out household duties effectively such as raising children, cooking and cleaning. A woman who portrays inability to carry out these tasks is assumed to be lazy or rather manner less. In the occupation sector, it is evident until recently that some jobs are perceived to belong to women. Case in point, nurses, receptionists, secretaries and personal assistants are assumed to be female jobs unlike occupations like engineering and surgery which are expected to belong to the masculine gender. To add on that, female are expected to have small, petite features unlike their tall, masculine and broad-shouldered male counterparts. Unfortunately, due to this reason, women who do not possess the socially accepted female features lack acceptance and face self-esteem issues (Psychology of men, 2016). 

Social expectations of masculine and feminine gender roles and characteristics have led to hyper -femininity and hyper-masculinity. These characteristics refer to the exaggerated expression of female and male characteristics respectively believed to be socially acceptable. On the downside, hyper-femininity makes women or rather gay men believe that they should boost men’s egos by submitting to them and expressing soft, kind, nurturing and flirtatious behavior. On the other hand, hyper-masculinity makes men or lesbians believe that to be accepted in the society, they need to be strong, hard, aggressive and sexually experienced. These stereotypes are dangerous to relationships because they may lead to physical, sexual or even emotional abuse for the people involved (Identity, 2016). 

In conclusion, from the above essay, it clear to state that gender-based stereotypes do exist in terms of roles men and women are expected to play in the society. Despite the fact that some individuals have gone against the expectations of their gender, most people still believe in satisfying the society’s unwritten requirements. As a result, some people face emotional, physical and sexual abuse due hyper-femininity and hyper-masculinity. Individual’s should be comfortable in their own behaviors, personalities and characteristics, rather than succumb to what the society expects from them. 


Identity, G. (2016). Gender Identity Stereotypical Masculine & Feminine Traits : Plannedparenthood.org . Retrieved 26 April 2016, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sexual-orientation-gender/gender-gender-identity

Male Gender Role Psychology of Men . (2016). Psychologyofmen.org : Retrieved 26 April 2016, from http://www.psychologyofmen.org/male-gender-role/ 

Social Norms and Gendered Expectations . (2016). Kateheddleston.org : Retrieved 26 April 2016, from https://kateheddleston.org/social-norms-and-gendered-expectations . 

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