A stereotype is a broadly accepted bias or judgment about a group or a person. Gender-based stereotypes can cause inadequate and unfair treatment because of a person’s gender. A gender stereotype is a presumption about characteristics, or you can say the roles that must be influenced or accomplished by both male and the female. If the gender stereotype is of the level that it affects men’s and women’s ability to pursue their professions, to develop their personal abilities and even to make their life decisions, then it is very harmful and can have negative consequences.
How do gender stereotypes originate?
Gender stereotypes instigate from local culture and societies. Family, friends, media, and institutions such as religious groups and schools are responsible to make the children learn that what creates male and female behavior. Young people are most of the time exposed to thoughts about how they should behave, look and play. These unconsciously accepted social ideas start to form at a very young age. Overall, it adversely affects all genders.
Kinds of gender-based stereotypes
Gender-based stereotypes are of four kinds discussed below:-
Behavioral traits – Men are expected to be aggressive and self-confident while women, on the other hand, are usually expected to be emotional as well as obliging.
Professions and occupations – It is expected that women should mostly become teachers and nurses while it is considered as a norm that professions such as pilots, doctors, and engineers belong to men. For example “only 7% of engineering modern apprenticeships in the UK were filled by girls in 2016” According to E Jones and F Aldridge’s Understanding the underrepresentation of women in engineering apprenticeships. According to the Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, No. 8: 2017 Edition. Gov.scot, It was stated that only 10% of primary level teachers in schools (Scotland) are men. Therefore, this seems to be the practical proof of what the socio-cultural aspect is related to women.
Domestic comportments – Women are mostly expected to cook, clean and take care of the children, on the contrary, it is expected from men to take care of the money and home maintenances. The study, presented in J Olchawski. Parents, Work And Care: Striking the Balance. London: Fawcett Society; 2016:4, mentioned that that “38% of dads lie to their boss to take time off work to spend with their children”.
Physical appearance – To look thin and beautiful is expected from the women while men are expected to be tall and well built. Likewise applies to dress, makeup and hairstyles of both genders. It is proved by Girl Guiding UK. Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2014. London: Girl guiding; 2014:13 that “87% of women asked (aged 11–21) think that women are judged more for their looks than ability”.
How do gender stereotypes affect women?
Unfair gender stereotyping is a common cause of women’s discrimination. Rights that are violated due to such discrimination are the living standard, the right to health, right to get an education, marriage and onwards family relations, freedom to express oneself, freedom of movement or to go outside or drive, Yes even driving the car is considered as the stereotype that women can’t drive like men. Similarly, women have to face discrimination in work, and they cannot have the liberty from gender-based violence, etc. Further wrongful gender stereotypes have set a lot more examples.
Men consider women as sexual property and it is very difficult to declare forced sex after marriage as marital rape and the failure to efficiently investigate, impeach and sentence sexual violence against women for supposing the stereotype that women should dress modestly to protect themselves from sexual violence. Gender stereotypes along with other stereotypes have a lop-sided negative impression on certain women groups, like aboriginal groups, women from minority or disabled women or women with lower economic status, etc. It ultimately effects their mental, physical and emotional health, leaving zero self-confidence in personality. It becomes very hard for them to talk and to stand for themselves in such a torturing situation.
What should be done?
Chain of the gender stereotypes needs to break off early from childhood. Educate children about beliefs. Give your children the courage to act in ways that are “external to the gender box.” Give them the activities to learn to represent inner qualities and traits as well as presence and dress style that can be both suitable for males and females. Make them have close attention to the gender stereotypes in TV shows for example or books that they read. Organize talks in classrooms and schools about the stereotypes noticed by children.
This should be the first step in overcoming such wrong believes. On an adult level, women should be educated and economically empowered. They must be provided with the legal help and support to talk about their issues and problems openly and fearlessly that resulted from gender biasedness and wrongful gender stereotype thoughts and behaviors.
Awareness and education are the key aspects to consider fighting against wrong gender stereotypes. It affects women in different ways. It is utmost for all of us on our level to strengthen ourselves as women and to be the pillar for each other. Secondly, you should as a parent educate and give awareness to your children even if it is a boy or a girl. Learn to stand for the wrong and be the part of the resolution.