Gender Roles Are Influenced by Family, Peers, Essay

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Gender roles are influenced by family, peers, culture and the media. Even fifty years ago, gender roles were much more rigidly defined and people were strongly influenced by their families and the communities in which they lived. The women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s eroded many long-held stereotypical views of what was once known as "the fairer sex." An important piece of legislation that resulted from the women's movement was Title IX, which created sports programs for girls that enabled them to have facilities, equipment and opportunities more comparable to those that had long been enjoyed only by boys. The gay pride movement, a more mobile society, and the proliferation of various media outlets also contributed greatly to the changing nature of gender roles. For the individual, gender identity is shaped from birth to adulthood by a combination of forces. The strength of various influences depends on a person's age and personal circumstances.

The first influence on gender roles is the parents, then siblings and extended family. Antill, Cunningham and Cotton (2003, p. 148) cited numerous studies demonstrating that adolescents and young adults resemble their parents in their own gender role attitudes. Children first learn about gender roles from their own parents' behavior.
Pappas (2010) points out that husbands and wives in today's young households are more apt to share chores than were their parents and grandparents -- although it is estimated that, with some exceptions, women do two-thirds more housework, even when they work outside the home the same number of hours as their male partners. That was true in my own home, where both of my parents were teachers. It was my mother, more often than not, who came home and cooked dinner, usually running the vacuum or putting a load of clothes in the wash in between stirring the pot. My father would sometimes cook, but that was a special occasion, such as when he saw a recipe in a magazine and wanted to give it a try. My father routinely helped out around the house, but that was exactly how it was described -- "helping out" -- as though the primary responsibilities were my mother's. My two older brothers, both married, seem to follow this traditional path in their own households.

Gender roles established in the home in the early years tend to be reinforced at school. In kindergarten, it is not unusual for boys to play with….....

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