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GENDER ROLES. Sex refers to biological differences between males and females; Gender refers to the cultural expectations attached to feminine and masculine roles. The socio-biological view (Biological determinism).

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gender roles
  • Sex refers to biological differences between males and females;
  • Gender refers to the cultural expectations attached to feminine and masculine roles.
the socio biological view biological determinism
The socio-biological view (Biological determinism)
  • Gender roles are biologically determined and are, therefore, fixed and unchangeable.
  • Wilson: Males are genetically programmed to be more promiscuous; females are prone to remain loyal to one partner.
  • Fox - history shows that men are hunters, while women are nurturers.


down stereotypical

characteristics of men

and women

Goldberg - males have an in- built dominance tendency
  • NB. This view has gained increasing credibility in recent years (ref “Why men don’t iron).
consensus theory
Consensus theory
  • Parsons: In the family, men tend to perform the instrumental tasks (a concern with achieving a task or goal) and women perform expressive tasks (concerned with affection and emotion]
  • The consensus view is that these gender roles are natural, inevitable and functional.
the feminist view
The Feminist view
  • In most societies there is gender inequality and women tend to be the losers in terms of power, status and pay.
  • This system of gender inequality benefits men at the expense of women.
the feminist view6
The Feminist view
  • Friedan: It was not women’s biology that held them back from competing with men on equal terms, but the feminine mystique
  • This was an ideology that defined what it was to be truly feminine, e.g. sensitive, intuitive. BUT this implies that women are not naturally rational, logical and assertive.
the feminist view continuted
The feminist view (continuted)
  • Friedan argued that the feminine mystique prevented women from seeing their potential and kept them locked in their roles as as wives, mothers and carers.
  • Kate Millett: developed the concept of Patriarchy: male domination. She argued that the oppression and exploitation of women by men are build into every aspect of the way society is organised.
cross cultural evidence about gender social constructionism
Cross-cultural evidence about Gender (Social Constructionism)

Gender is based on ‘nurture’ – socialisation and social

environment- Each society creates its own set of gender

expectations. Can you think if any examples that

illustrate this?

  • Ann Oakley -the Mbuti Pygmies of the Congo have very little division of labour by sex; men and women hunt together and share responsibility for childcare.
  • Margaret Mead - differences in childrearing techniques in three New Guinea tribes – extract from soc in focus page 40.
gender as socially constructed
Gender as Socially constructed
  • On the basis of cross-cultural evidence, it is difficult to conclude that differences between women and men in social roles are purely the result of biology.
  • Sociologists have therefore explored the role of culture in shaping male and female gender identities.
  • In particular, the part played by gender socialisation.
gender role socialisation
  • Much of our identity and behaviour is the result of experiences of interaction with other people, especially during childhood.
  • Our gender identity is no exception. Gender expectations are transmitted to the next generation through gender role socialisation.
gender role socialisation the family
Gender role Socialisation:The Family
  • Gender identity stems from:
  • imitation of parental role models;
  • parents rewarding gender-appropriate behaviour (manipulation);
  • parents discouraging gender-inappropriate behaviour;
  • Parents adopting different modes of speech and terms of endearment depending on the gender of the child;
the family continued
The Family (continued)
  • Mothers’ preoccupation with female children’s appearance;
  • Parents giving children gender-specific toys, books and games (canalisation);
  • Children being dressed in gender-specific clothes and colours;
  • Parents assigning gender-specific household chores to children;
  • parents socially controlling the behaviour of girls more tightly than boys.
task the family gender role socialisation
  • Find the following studies and note down their evidence:
  • Moss (1970)
  • Will, Self and Datan (1984)
  • Oakley (1981)
  • Damon (1977)
  • Statham (1986)
gender role socialisation education
Gender role Socialisation: Education
  • Until the 1990s the hidden curriculum transmitted gender-stereotyped assumptions about feminine behaviour through teacher expectations, timetabling, career advice, textbook content etc..
  • There still remains gender differences in subject choices, especially in H.E.
  • Working class girls are still following traditional gender routes - leave school at 16, temporary jobs, marriage, motherhood.
education continued
Education (continued)
  • The hidden curriculum, through teacher expectations, may be resulting in working-class boys following traditional gender routes into manual jobs. Controlling masculine behaviour may become more important than ensuring boys receive a good education.
  • Young males may reject academic work because of equating learning with femininity.
task education and gender role socialisation
  • Find the following studies and note down their evidence:
  • Sue Sharpe (1976;1994)
  • Michelle Stanworth (1983)
  • Dale Spender (1983)
  • Lobban (1974)
  • Thomas (1990)
  • Christine Skelton (2002)
gender role socialisation the peer group
Gender role SocialisationThe Peer Group
  • Working class boys may reject the goals of schooling and set up anti-school subcultures (Paul Willis);
  • Mac An Ghaill - such subcultures may be a reaction to a ‘crisis in masculinity’, as working-class boys learn that traditional working-class jobs and roles such as breadwinner and head of household are in decline;
the peer group continued
The Peer Group (continued)
  • Membership of deviant subcultures may confer status on boys for exaggerating masculine values and norms while negatively sanctioning behaviour defined as feminine.
  • There is an assumption that men and women have different sexual personalities. If women behave in a similar way to men, they will be labelled and will ‘develop a reputation’ (Sue Lees)
gender role socialisation the mass media
Gender role socialisationThe Mass Media
  • Feminists are critical of a range of mass media that socialise females into either domestic or sexualised patterns of femininity:
  • Popular literature, especially fairy tales and children’s stories, portray females as the weaker sex and males as heroes;
  • Children’s books portray traditional gender roles;
the mass media continued
The Mass Media (continued)
  • Magazines for teenage adolescents encourage them to concentrate on appearance and romance rather than on education and careers;
  • Women’s magazine’s are apprentice manuals for motherhood and domesticity;
  • Adverts continue to show women disproportionately in domestic roles and emphasise their physical looks and sex appeal at the expense of ability and personality;
the mass media continued21
The Mass Media (continued)
  • ‘New lads’ magazines and pornography assert a very traditional view of masculinity organised around interpreting women as sexual objects, sport and drinking culture.
task the mass media and gender role socialisation
  • Find the following studies and note down their evidence:
  • Gay Tuchman (1981)
  • Angela McRobbie (1982)
  • Marjorie Ferguson (1983)
  • What does the biological determinism theory suggest about gender?
  • What is social constructionism?
  • What does the above approach suggest about gender roles?
  • Who did Margaret Mead study in 1935?
  • What is gender role socialisation?
  • What does Goldberg suggest about something being inbuilt in males?
  • What does consensus theory suggest about gender roles?
  • Download this powerpoint and find out details of the studies or any that I have missed out using your photocopied booklets.
  • Read pages 43-44 and make notes from the photocopied booklet.