Gender refers to the classification of a person as either a male or a female. It is an issue of characteristics of an individual that distinguish the individual as either a male or a female. The features are purely biological. These characteristics are on their capacity factual or perceived.
The society expects one to be either feminine or masculine and ambiguity in the distinction of the two is always a critical subject that ends up in the media for one reason or another whenever cases arise. The issue of gender always seems to be inborn. Culture plays a significant role in determining duties which are considered feminine and masculine.
One might think that a child is born with the idea of how to behave in relation to gender while in the real sense; it is the cultivation of the society that moulds people to their sensitivity with respect to gender. This has affected the perception accorded to people of different genders regarding their responsibilities and roles in the society.
Attention has always been drawn to job positions, financial status, political positions, leadership and family roles as pertains to men and women. The revolutions in technologies and economies have brought concern in the society as some schools of thoughts think that the social structure is being compromised due to changes in gender roles.
This paper seeks to discuss the topic of gender roles with the aim of establishing whether [or otherwise?] gender roles should be defined and not compromised. The paper will look at the trend in gender roles, comparing the current situation and the cases in the past decades and centuries.
Gender Roles in Nineteenth Century
In the earlier days, a woman in the society was accorded the domestic role of building and nurturing the family. The model woman was seen as a wife to her husband and a mother to her children. She was the link between the man and the domestic matters at home. In America, for example, the role of the woman was to get married and have children.
According to Wayne, the industrial revolution that brought changes in the roles of women from homes, tending farms, to the industrial jobs had brought a shift in the woman’s domestic roles but the responsibility of child bearing and housekeeping was not compromised. Men had, however, adopted the role of working away from homes. The roles were also distinguished when it came to courtship and marriage.
The society had evolved from parental decisions over their children’s spouses. Religion, however, opened its boundaries for women participation in church activities. Women also started seeking education and were involved in the primary education of their children. Their education was, however, basic; to prepare them into handling their families rather than for jobs as was the case for men (Wayne 72).
Gender Roles as Viewed Today
There has been a shift in education in regard to gender. Women have currently been pursuing education not just for bringing up their families but for developing careers. Sudha in her research work argued that education has brought about significant changes in gender roles among women.
According to Sudha, education greatly influences women’s attitude towards their rights, personal developments, social status and ability to criticize gender based oppressions. She argued out that education has positively influenced women in the above mentioned aspects (Sudha 127).
It has been indicated that the gender roles have greatly changed over the years. Some of the roles that were unheard of among women are currently seen as normal practices. One of the roles that women have acquired is the participation in elective politics in which they were previously prohibited.
Women have also assumed the roles of managing their own income. More interesting roles have been assumed by women in various places such in corporate environment among others. One of the reasons for the change in the gender roles, according to the authors, is the changing economic environments (Sudha 127).
Roles in business
The role of women has also been shifting into the business arena. In a study on small businesses conducted by Bird and Sapp, it was revealed that females venture in small business in the United States and that over the years this trend has kept on increasing. A comparison between the nineteen seventies and the early years of the twenty first century indicates an improvement of women involvement in small business ventures.
The rise of women into various positions in the society has been attributed to the enlightenment that they have received. Enlightenment has helped women to take up positions which were previously reserved for men. Another emerging factor about the women enterprises that could in the future give them an upper hand to even outnumber men in the business arena is their seemingly long term objectivity in business.
The research by Bird and Sapp indicated that while men in the enterprises are more focused on the profit they make, women have their interest concentrated in building personal relations with their customers. In these trends, the female owned businesses will with time gain more stability than those owned by men.
In addition, the women are more likely to have a stable mass of customers than men, a fact that will give them the benefit of economy of scale and a higher profitability as compared to men. The aspect of women partnerships in business is also increasing their venture and success in the field. The results were however slightly different in rural areas (Bird and Sapp 20).
An independent research by Russo, Kelly and Deacon on career success based on gender revealed some significant facts about women. Women consider hard work and their capabilities in their positions to be their reasons for success. Women were also found to value personal attributes in carrying out businesses. Women were found to have more personal touch on whatever project they carried; an aspect which was not very clear in men (Russo, Kelly and Deacon 1).
According to the Norwegian equality ministry, the number of women in the political field has greatly improved in the country. With consideration to the national assembly, the number of women increased from about fifteen percent that was witnessed in the past thirty years to the current representation of about forty percent.
It was also notable that the choice of political candidates with respect to gender has not been based on the capacity of the candidates in terms of “competence, friendly attitude and goodwill” (Norway 1) but a sort of mentality that discriminate on women.
The rise against this kind of discriminative treatment to beat men in elections and increase their number in parliament is an indication of their capacity to success. The report also indicated that in Norway, more women pursue higher education than men (Norway 1).
The earlier society had a well-defined system and structure on which families were based. There were outlined duties and responsibilities that were to be fulfilled by either of the gender in a family of a society.
Analysis of the gender roles in the nineteenth century for example, illustrates the role of the woman as a domestic manager responsible for the daily activities of the home. Her roles included child bearing home keeping and taking care of the husband.
The man was on the otherhand the financial provider of the family. The environmental changes that included economic transformations and social revolutions have however led to the change from the traditional set up of a domestic woman to the current independent woman.
Her roles have changed from the home keeper to the leader who has influence in both political and economic arenas. Different research studies indicate that the full potential of women has not been achieved due to obstacles like discrimination. However, the trend of liberation is constantly increasing.
The involvements of women in economic and political matters have contributed positively to their individual families and society.The role of women in the society should therefore not be defined on the traditionalists’ guidelines as they were mostly discriminative and of little benefit in the current economic situation. The freedom enables women to build the society in a variety of ways.
Bird Sharon & Sapp Stephen.Understanding the Gender Gap.Soc, 2004.Web. 13 March, 2011.
Norway. Women in Politics.Norway, 2009.Web. 13 March, 2011.
Russo Nancy, Kelly Rita and Deacon Melinda.Gender and success-related attributions.Springer Link, 1991.Web. 13 March, 2011.
Sudha Daniel. Gender roles. New Delhi, India: APH Publishing, 2008. Print.
Wayne Weiten. Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2004. Print.