Throughout history stereotypes have imposed a major role in society’s views of people. Today, gender remains one of the most common causes of stereotypical prejudice. Presenting an unfair standard for all to follow, gender roles taint people’s ideas of how someone should act and what someone should do. Believing these roles to be accurate, society casts negative opinions toward those who strive to do what others view as anomalous. Since the time that humans developed the ability to reason and communicate, gender roles have affected both men and women’s place in society.
Gender roles influence the actions of parents and, consequently, their children, strengthening the roots of stereotypes in the world. The effect of gender roles in society is most evident in the workplace, where women have never been equal to men in salary or status. While the trends of the last century lean toward an equal future, gender roles continue to affect the lives of men and women around the world. Gender roles create a significant disparity in the nature of the positions held by men and women.
In 1880, for example, “Only ten percent of women [in New York City ] held paying jobs,” and, “two-thirds [of those women] worked in the clothing trade” (#3)”. Based on this statistic, it is apparent that women of that era were greatly affected by the conservative ideas of women’s place in society. Because of gender roles, that era’s society anticipated that the hard work would be done by the men and that women would stay at home, raise their family, and be devoted housewives.
This chauvinistic theory also seems to be present in today’s society, where women and men still do not hold equally prominent positions in the workforce. In fact, only twenty-eight companies in the Fortune 1000 have a woman CEO (#2). That equates to 0. 28 % of the top one thousand corporations in America that have women at the helm. This ratio is obviously one that is hindered by the prevalent opinions of women’s abilities as leaders. Gender roles have made an obvious mark on women’s ability to attain jobs of notable status.
Gender roles create the opportunity for men to hold positions that are higher paying than those of women. However, the gap between men and women’s salaries has continued to decline in recent decades. In fact, a US Department of Labor survey shows that in 1980 the average woman aged 45-54 made 56. 9% of the salary that an average man of that age made. That same survey shows that in 2005 women made 74. 5% of the salary that men made (#4). The nearly 20% closing of the gap between men and women’s salaries is a sign of society’s realization that men are not born better humans than women.
Men are not naturally more physically adept than women nor are men born with higher IQ’s. As Fallows states in “Throwing like a Girl,” “There is no structural reason why men and women should [function] in different ways” (#1). This presents the fact that at birth, a girl is just as likely to become a professional athlete as a boy is. At birth, a girl is just as qualified as a boy to grow up and become president of the United States . There is no reason that men should automatically be assumed to be more qualified for a position than women.
The only reason for men’s superiority in society is that boys are raised differently than girls. Parents are afraid to tell their young boy to aspire to become a dancer because of the possibility that society will frown upon him. Parents are afraid to tell there daughter to become a CEO of a major corporation because they are afraid of the possibility of failure for their child. Instead, parents continue to impose what is deemed masculine upon their young son, or parents encourage what is viewed as feminine upon their daughter.
In order to eliminate assumed gender roles in society, people, more specifically parents, must be open-minded and realize that sex is not an automatic ruler when it comes to determining a child’s future. Also, parents must allow their children to do what they feel is right and give them the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they deem necessary. As evident in the workplace, gender roles play a prominent part in affecting opinions and decisions of all people. By following the accepted gender roles, both men and women limit their opportunities and conform to the expectations of society.
Gender roles affect the status of all people in the world, and they prolong the prejudicial opinions that cast negative effects across society. Until everybody can honestly look past gender when judging a person, the effects of gender roles will continue to harm people’s views of others. This will not be achieved until parents can accept that not everybody has to do what others think is right because parents are the ones who shape their children and, ultimately, a society’s future.
The world must continue to make positive steps toward equality between men and women and keep in mind the horrible consequences of narrow-minded gender roles. Works Cited 1. Fallows, James. “Throwing like a girl,” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings, 6th Edition, 2009. p. 386-392 2. “Women CEOs,” CNN Money, 2009. 15 Oct, 2009. 3. “Women in the workplace,” American History. ABC-Clio, 2009. Web. 12 Oct, 2009. 4. “Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, 2008. 14 Oct, 2009.