ROLES IN SOCIETY
Mrs. B. Rajalakshmi
Loyola College of Education,
Chennai –600 034.
presentation is regarding the Gender roles in society. This presentation covers how
traditionally the gender roles have been set in pupil minds and the impacts
that it is causing because of the gender roles in the society. How to eradicate
the issues caused by the pre determined gender roles.
to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as
norms, roles relationships of and between groups of women and men. It
varies from society to society and can be changed.
World Health Organization
“Gender refers to the cultural,
socially-constructed differences between the two sexes. It refers to the way a
society encourages and teaches the two sexes to behave in different ways
through socialization.” Browne, 1992
Robert Stroller, in the 1960’s has said
that ‘Gender’ to be used in
connection to the behaviour and cultural practices of men and women.
Gender roles in some societies are
much more rigid than those in more open-minded countries. In some Arab countries, for instance, a woman’s gender role is as the homemaker, they are obedient to men and are
not given certain freedoms such as driving.
Gender roles are the roles that men and women are expected to occupy based on
perspective on gender roles suggests that gender roles are created by the
interactions between individuals, communities, and their environments.
Thus Gender roles are the product of interactions between
individuals and their environment, and they give individual cues about what
sort of behaviour is believed to be appropriate for which sex.
Gender Roles can be linked to expectations of males and
females in realms outside of the family as well, such as work (Williams 1995)
Elderly people at home generally prefer to watch old
movies. In olden movies, Woman is always portrayed like obedient to husbands,
home maker, prepare dishes for entire family and takes care of everyone at
Men are portrayed like breadwinners of the family,
dominating women, doesn’t take care their own children, reads newspaper,
Not only in movies but life has operated like this for many
In olden days, gender roles are played in families like how
they showed in olden movies. But there is a drastic change in the present
society. Even men take part in taking care of household work, baby sitting,
asking for women’s decision. Lot of female employees are noticeable in any
sector of any types of organization.
1. The breadwinner
Traditionally speaking, it was
the man who had to ensure the financial aspects and stability of the family.
However, the gender roles have somewhat shifted in the modern era as more and
more women build themselves a career and they fulfil the financial needs of
2. Controls the relationship
Men just have to be in control,
right? In the past it may have worked for everything to be controlled by men,
but in our days women are just as efficient when it comes to handling problems
In the past it has been normal
for the man to be the dominant party in a relationship. Since then women have been
open and have found the strength to be the leaders of their family. As a matter
of fact, in many cases women seem to make better decisions than men.
4. The nurturer
You may have heard it many times
that the place of a woman is in the kitchen. They are supposed to care for the
children, their husband, and for the household without worrying about any of
the financial aspects.
5. Masculinity and feminity
Men are supposed to have short
hair and women are supposed to have long hair and wear dresses. However, since
the women role in society has changed greatly, the traditional markers of
masculinity and feminity don’t apply anymore, giving individuals more freedom.
Gender Roles – Do They Still Apply to Modern Society or They Do More Harm Than
Good to Today’s Relationships
1. The breadwinner and the
provider of the family
For sure you
have heard that the man is supposed to bring the money home. He has to work for
their family while the woman is supposed to stay home. However, the gender
roles have changed in the moment when women started working and building a
career for themselves. They can make just as much money or even more than their
partners. Although this is something that men should be happy about, in some
cases it could cause trouble in the family. As the breadwinner, a man had a
certain status in the family and in society and this has been taken from them.
The women role
in society has changed as well and many of them are more focused on their
career than on raising a family. This is something that some men find difficult
to accept. They may also feel threatened by a woman who makes more money than
them. This is because they might feel like their manliness is taken from them.
2. Controls the relationship
and everything else
about traditional gender roles in marriage, for sure you have heard the
expression “the head of the family”. Since men have been the head of the
family, they had the power to make all the decisions and control the relationship.
Traditionally women’s role has been a more submissive one. Nowadays, however,
the situation has shifted and it is common for women to make some of the
decisions, especially when it comes to money. Nonetheless, in order to have a
balanced relationship, it is best for the decisions to be made by both
this is a role that has been taken by men, in some cases they might not agree
with the woman having a word to say in the relationship. Like it or not, women
are demanding a change in the women role and they are willing to take more
responsibility. If you are an independent person, most probably you can’t
accept other people making decisions for you and this might lead to arguments
3. Dominance over the
This one of the
examples of traditional gender roles is closely related to the man being in
control of the relationship. As it has been mentioned before, in the past the
man has been the dominant party in the relationship while the woman has been
the submissive one. While the same structure might be found in numerous
relationships, more and more women get fed up with this woman role. They leave
their old relationships behind in search for a new one in which they would be
an equal party.
As open minded
as they might be, some men still have some episodes when they think they should
be the dominant party. This usually leads to arguments as women don’t want to
give up their new found power. The best thing you could do is to talk things
through and reach a compromise. You should give up some of your dominance and
so should the partner.
4. The nurturer of the family
your grandmother or great-grandmother has been a stay at home mom. She took
care of the children, looked after the household, and took care of her husband.
Although this can be a rewarding role, most modern women wish to shift away
from these traditional gender roles in America and they want to have a more
active life from a professional point of view. This is why it is common for
women not to have children so they can focus on their career. The more
traditional people might judge these women, but let’s not forget it’s their
If you come to
think of it, it is not fair for the woman to care for the family alone. If she
has a career, just like her husband, it would be only fair for the two of them
to share the chores. However, the truth is that most men feel like it’s not
their duty to do household chores and this could lead to numerous arguments.
Women might feel like they are working two shifts to perform at their job and
to keep their home clean.
Masculinity and feminity – all the traditional aspects:
numerous gender issues in society and one of the most common one is what the
two genders should look like. People expect women to have long hair, feminine
traits, and wear dresses or skirts. On the other hand men are supposed to have
short hair and wear trousers. But what happens when the two worlds collide?
What if women wear pants and men have long hair? While such an idea has been
considered preposterous in the past, luckily in our days these are accepted.
Still, there are
some men who consider their female ideal a woman having long hair and wearing
dresses with heels. While there are some women who feel comfortable that way, it
isn’t fair to expect it from all women.
Roles Are Learned?
Gender roles are passed on
through generations. From the age of three, children are able to start becoming
aware of the differences between girls and boys based on the actions of the
parents and the nature of their environment.
continually be dressed in pink, purple, and flowery outfits while boys are
given blue and gray ones.
When girls at
kindergarten picks up a truck to play with, her teacher may say, ‘That’s for
boys. I’ll get you a girl toy.’
As the children grow a few
years, they start learning what behaviour is appropriate and expected.
that their mother cooks for the family, so she pretends to cook for her dolls.
Boys get a toy
lawn mower to use in the den, so he can be like his daddy.
The behaviour is reinforced when
the parents praise or reward their children for their actions. They can also be
punished and challenged to change, if it’s considered inappropriate.
When a girl
pretends to cook, their mothers may tell them, ‘That’s great , one day you will
be a great cook for your family.’
girl takes a toy from her brother and he starts crying, his father may tell
him, ‘Now, stop that. Boys don’t cry.’
Children are also encouraged to
serve different roles in their interactions with the outside world. Boys are
often encouraged to exert themselves in physical activity, and girls are
typically given more attention to how they look and present themselves
Gender Roles in India:
Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in encyclopaedia of sexuality: “the
husbands are breadwinners; the women generally take care of the household
activities, besides bearing and rearing children.”
However, due to
widespread educational programmes and improvement of educational facilities for
girls, women nowadays are accepting jobs outside the home, and thus
contributing financially to the family budget.
in making women aware of their rights and importance of their involvement in
day-to-day family matters, the status of women has increased significantly. Due
to all these, women nowadays actively participate not only in family affairs,
but also in social and political activities in the communities.
and professional courses which were earlier monopolized by men are gradually
being shared by women.
Due to rapid
social and technological changes, it is observed that in the recent period,
traditional gender-role differentiation is breaking especially in the fields of
education and work
system of, the sati, dowry, child marriages were very much predominant in pre
independence period. However all these have changed in post independent period.
India has seen
many famous film stars, both male and female, achieve political prominence. In
1966, IndiraGandhi became prime minister of India, at a time when few western
nations would have accepted rural men have traditionally done heavy work such
as plowing, clearing trees, building homes, as well as planting and sowing,
while women have done the harvesting and gathering. Men often use sometimes
shoulder poles to carry things while women carry things on their head. And yet
India remains a very male – dominated society.
Gender Roles in Society:
Family is very
important in India. Since independence joint families have become smaller.
Parents strongly decide on the career and mairage for their children without
giving a choice to their words. Family obligations are strong. If their
children don’t have a proper career, parents support them until they move to
the next step.
Men and Women and Relations between Family
Rural men have
traditionally done heavy work such as plowing, clearing trees, building homes,
as well as planting and sowing, while women have done the harvesting and
gathering. Men often use sometimes shoulder poles to carry things while women
carry things on their head.
the bond between mother and son is very strong while that between husband and
wife is often relatively weak, in some cases below that of siblings. Daughters
and fathers have also traditionally had strong bonds. The relationship between
mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is often bad. The mother-in-law often orders
her son’s wife around, in part because the same thing happened to her when she
was a young wife.
the olden days they were following the Varna system.
It was divided into 4
varnas and each one was given their role of jobs.
Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.
Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
Shudras: labourers and service providers.
In India inter
caste marriages are not allowed. Even recently when a couple had done inter
caste marriage without parents’ permission, the girls dad had done the honour
killing of the couple in front of public. Where is the world heading to?
In rural areas
even today the caste system is prevailing predominantly were lower class people
are not allowed to enter into the streets of upper class people.
independence, the untouchability and caste are being abolished. Steps are taken
in such a way that Scheduled Castes gain access to education and government
India is a land
of diversity. There are various types of religions in India. Hence key belief
of each religion has its impact on gender roles which changes from time to
time. Some religions suppress women’s rights.
“Be a young
girl, young women, or even be an old one, nothing must be done independently.
In childhood a female will be obeying her father, after marriage should listen
to husband after child to her son- a woman is never allowed to be independent.
In the preamble
of the constitution of India, gender equality is ensured as an actual fundamental
Culture is shared by a
group of people, and all these traditions, values, ideas are transmitted across
generations. Gender role can change over time with within the culture and it is
different in different countries.
Media as an
entertainment as lot of influence on society’s way of thinking. It is in the
form of advertisements, commercials, and billboards.
advertisements, Women are shown as doing household woks or taking care of
children, Etc., whereas men will be watching TV, reading news paper.
Gender roles are
not biologically determined; they are culturalyproduced.Gender inequalities
results because men and women are socialized into different roles.
spreads through media or technology and one of the biggest concepts is “gender”.
Law and the state:
The Indian constitution provides rights to citizens as well as puts
forward definite rules and regulations which are binding on the citizens.
The rights that are provided are called the constitutional guarantees.
Some of the constitutional guarantees:
14: Equality before law
Ø Article 15: No
discrimination between citizens
Ø Article 16(1):
Equality of opportunities for all citizens relating to employment or
appointment to any office under the state.
Ø Article 16(2):
forbids discrimination in respect of any employment or office under the state
on grounds of caste, religion, race, sex etc.
As per constitutional guarantee all women enjoy same rights as men in
the society. Emphasis is given on equality, no discrimination and equal
How to eradicate
Children need to be given the proper general roles in society from
infant stage. Equal treatment of men and women has to be imbibed from
childhood. First step for this should be from the parents end when they both
respect each other and treat each other equally the child will also follow the
As teachers equal treatment of boys and girls needs to be done, equal
work to be allotted to the children.
All the laws should be aware by the common people as we are the
citizens of India.
One of the key aspects is significance of gender roles in
society. Eliminating the gender roles stereotype from infant stage will avoid
lot of issues that might arise. When at the initial stage the usage of gender
roles is defined clearly we will not be facing the other issues that are created
at present in the society. All the laws must be known to people of all grades.
Teachers are the stepping stones to success, hence will have to inculcate the
habit of treating both the gender kids equally thereby eradicating the acid
attacks , suicide cases, rape cases etc. and will thereby eliminate the social
evils of the society.
Williams Christine. 1995. Still a Man’s world: Men who do “Women
work” Berkeley university of California, Press.
“Are gender roles important to society?” Debate.org.
Debate.org, Inc. 2015. Web 10 Nov. 2015.
we mean by “sex” and “gender”?”. WHO.int.
World Health Organization. 2015. Archived from the original
on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
Blau, Francine D.; Kahn, Lawrence M. (2000).
“Differences in Pay”. The Journal of Economic Perspectives.
“The Social Construction of Gender.” personal.psu.edu. Pennsylvania
State University. 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
“Gender, School and Society.”
Gender, School and Society by Mrs.V.Anitha