Explain cultural variations in gender roles
defines culture as a set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by
a group of people and communicated from one generation to the next though
cultural practices and language.
roles were based on biology alone it would be natural to assume that gender
roles are universal and based on evolution. For example, women have
traditionally done most of the household work and spent more time on
childcare than men, but does this indicate that housework and child caring
is based on women’s biology?
roles were based on culture it would be natural to assume that gender roles
vary across cultures according to a specific culture’s beliefs and
expectations with regard to men and women’s roles (gender role ideology). In
most cultures, women have had the major responsibility for taking care of
the children and house work.
(1987) social role theory suggests that gender stereotypes arise from the
different roles occupied by males and females. Women and men are seen as
best suited for the roles they occupy respectively and this gives rise to
beliefs about how women and men behave and feel respectively. Some of these
stereotypes may become cognitive schemas, which are resistant to change.
societies, physical strength is no longer the only way to assure “bread
winning”. Women and men are more likely to have the same jobs and share the
responsibility for the family.
(1977) predicted that gender roles will shift as societies shift from a belief
that gender roles are based on biological differences to a belief in general
Support for this
could be research on new male gender roles in Western cultures:
(2006) found that young fathers in Denmark find childcare important. Being a
father is an important part of their identity and they want to be close to
(1994) found that, if fathers participated in programs on parenting and
child development, they became more involved with their children.
compared gender roles in three New Guinean tribes.
She argued that
masculine and feminine roles are not related to biology but gender role
ideology. Cultural differences in gender roles are more likely to reflect
cultural expectations than biology.
I would like to
point out that societies that accept social inequality seem to accept not only
class differences but also social differences between men and women. In
societies where males control resources and dominate the political system, women
are more likely to conform to the stereotypical gender role.
may be the road to change in traditional stereotyped gender roles. The women’s
movement for social equality started in individualistic societies and ideas of
social equality of men and women have been adopted in most individualist