Gender Stereotypes Interfere with Gender Equality

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Equality between gender is always a huge part of human rights that women and men should have fair opportunities to achieve their potential goals in jobs and life. Today, women are still chained by gender stereotypes, that they have less access to decision-making and higher education comparing to men, and they continuously face obstacles at the workplace and have higher safety risks. Liz Wolfson, the chief visionary officer of Girls Athletic Leadership Schools, sharing the story of her life being gripped by gender role and gender stereotypes, believes that women should rise up and confront this issue. Maintaining equal rights for both sexes is important, and as a woman in this modern world, fighting for our right is also necessary.

Gender roles usually are confused with gender stereotypes. A gender stereotype is defined as a narrow-minded way of thinking of how men or women are obligated to perform, and how their roles are different from each other in society. ‘That the prettiest girls were cheerleaders, and that getting dressed up meant dresses for me and suits for my brothers, and that boys were rough-and-tumble while girls were tickled for kicks and baked cookies and cakes,’ says by Wolfson in ‘The roots of embodied education’ (Wolfson 136).

Wolfson describes what she learned and experienced the different expectation between her and her brothers, or generally boys and girls, at her young age that she should do that girly stuff instead of following her dream to become athletes like her brothers and father. These are the norms that society lays on the shoulders of both genders, which makes them behave in a certain way. These types of stereotypes lead to certain jobs mainly categorized for either women or men, creating an even more sharp division between the genders. Gender stereotypes are generally based on the differences in natural characteristics like strength, thinking, and personality, as men are strong and secure, while women are weak and soft. In other words, men are superior, and women are their subordinates.

For example, women are always the nurturers for most of history, as they took care of their children, did the house chores, did some farming and some labor but never as much as the men. When more defined jobs came into play, women are still portrayed as a caregiver. Although the medical field was considered suitable for females, most women work as nurses, and most men work as doctors. We are now facing inequality problems as there is still a persistent gap for men and women to opportunities, but women have done many things to improve this issue.

Throughout history, women continuously fighting to reach equality. The Women’s Right Movement had pushed to break cultural and industrial barriers. In ‘Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture,’ Ariel Levy wrote, ‘We’d earned the right to look at Playboy; we were empowered enough to get Brazilian bikini waxes. Women had come so far, I learned, we no longer need to worry about objectification or misogyny’ (Levy 130).

After the movement, this is true that women have achieved many rights and authorities. They are not only allowed to wear sexy outfits to walk on the street but also can do and experience what ‘men can do” like going to strip clubs or reading porn magazines. In the workplace, women no longer need to primally focus on domestic responsibilities but can start working in places commonly kept for men. In this twenty-first century, it seems that the balance is already maintained considering how much women accomplished. However, this is untrue.

Now in this modern world, many positions in work have been opened to women, but the opportunity to reach those jobs are still far away. Taking a further look at women in the workplace, we still see the gap between men and women. Men always held most of the superior positions, such as men are doctors and women are nurses, or men are CEO while women are secretaries. We also see women’s lack of opportunity to get promoted, receiving lower pay for similar work, and a higher rate of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Some mostly-suitable-men jobs such as sports professions or military jobs require even more for women to achieve, and sometimes they cannot meet the standards of normal women that society expects. Wolfson, in her early age, weighed 135 pounds, and the whole family complained about her weight. She shares, ‘I remember two of my family members spending an entire car ride to school the next day discussing how they had had no idea I weighed so much. I remember wanting to die’ (Wolfson 138). Not only Wolfson but many women suffer the same thing, not meeting the social expectation and receiving pressure from the eyes of other people. The pressure also comes from fulfilling both domestic responsibilities and tasks form their jobs.

Women had fought for their rights to go to work, but they never escape the facts that they still stuck with house chores and caring for their children, which is stuff that men, considering by the social expectation, do not need to worry about. Stress from work and stress from home force many women to leave the workplace or to give up their dream job and find another suitable one.

Then, how do we make a change? To solve this problem, we should start from its root. Family is the cradle where we grow up, and it is also where we begin to aware of gender role. As the parents, we should not put the gender stereotypes onto our children like pink for little girls and blue for little boys, but let them be free with their choices, help them develop their own expression of personal femininity or masculinity. Wolfson states, ‘as girls and women, we should seek out fully embodied experiences whenever possible. They keep us free’ (Wolfson 139).

She means that the best way to escape the social expectation is creating a new way to express our gender, breaking the chains the backward, old-fashioned society laid on us. She also believes that we can build whole schools that teach this freedom as an organic part of growing up because education is the fastest way to lead new ideas to people. To achieve these hard tasks, the new generation needs our hands.


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Gender Stereotypes Interfere with Gender Equality. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/gender-stereotypes-interfere-with-gender-equality/

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