Gender Stereotypes

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It is important to discuss potential reasons behind the maintenance of gender stereotypes. An important influence on gender stereotypes arises from parents. From a young age parents might expect different things from their sons or daughters. For an example, sons may be encouraged to do well in the sciences or math, while daughters are encouraged to be creative. Furthermore, household chores may be divided, with sons handling outdoor work and daughters the indoor cleaning chores. Females often grow up in families where the mom stays at home to take care of them, while the father is away working. Thus, equalizing childcare and parental leave between both parents may lead to greater gender equality by enabling women to thrive in their career and enabling children to grow up with a role-model of an educated, career oriented and independent woman.

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An important reason behind certain “female attributes” that put women in a disadvantage to men may be the sexualization of the female body. As shown in the image below, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared in a sexist Ford advertisement where over-sexualized, bound women are depicted to be helpless in the back of a car. Culturally, women are also enjoyed for their bodies, not for their intellectual and mental abilities that make us all uniquely human. Perhaps, gender equality cannot fully exist while great majority of prostitutes are women, which is often viewed to be violence by men against women. Media depiction of women may also be a great contributor to the maintenance of gender stereotypes. There is not only a vast underrepresentation of women in media, with males appearing three times as much in prime-time television12, yet when women are portrayed in the media; stereotypical attributes are often assigned to them. Frequently women are portrayed as homemakers, passive, dependent on men, and physically more attractive than the population as a whole13.  The media can limit a child’s potential, just by sending unrealistic messages. In fact, with increased television viewing, children are more likely to hold sexist stereotypes on gender roles. From Disney movies to porn, gender stereotypes surround the media, while examples of strong, independent, and smart women are less often depicted.

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