Gender Socialization


1. In conservative, traditional homes, girls are raised to be homemakers and nurturers and educated. While this perspective is shifting, I was raised to help keep the house clean, assist with meal prep, and look after my siblings. My brothers were responsible for what were considered more masculine duties, taking out the trash, helping with home repairs, and being encouraged to participate in sports. These social constructs carry on through generations. It isn’t until recently that gender roles in relationships and homes have become shared. Role expectations for men and women are gradually becoming more egalitarian, with women often sharing in financial responsibilities and men sharing responsibilities for childcare and household work (McGoldrick et al., 2016).

These messages create a perspective, that men are superior and strong. Assigning tasks from a young age that require more endurance places emphasis on strength, and leadership. Also, for girls being raised they are considered soft, more vulnerable, sensitive, and the heartbeat of making sure everyone in the home is taken care of.


2. Gender socialization begins early in life, with boys and girls often raised and socialized differently based on gender norms. Boys are encouraged to engage in activities and play with toys that promote assertiveness, emotional suppression, and dominance, while girls are steered towards nurturing, cooperative, and appearance-focused behaviors (McGoldrick et al., 2015). These early socialization patterns shape adult functioning, impacting career aspirations, communication styles, emotional expression, body image, and roles within families and society.

As a result, men may struggle with emotional expression and mental health issues, while women may face challenges related to body image, career advancement, and balancing caregiving responsibilities. Challenging traditional gender norms and fostering more equitable socialization practices is crucial for promoting healthier development and maximizing individual potential across genders.

Growing up, my parents did follow traditional gender roles as far as what my brother and I played with. I played with dolls and had a play kitchen, and my brother had ninja turtles and played sports. However, regarding house duties and roles, we all had chores and had to clean and help. Moreover, my parents always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. I do not feel like any traditional job or role was forced on me. As a girl who grew up in a larger body, gender roles affected the way I felt about how I looked and felt about my body, as societal norms have always portrayed women as thin. I did not match the ideal but always had to wear little girl fashion, and I was more comfortable in baggier clothes and T-shirts. I believe this affected me throughout my childhood and into my adulthood.

I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother called me the responsible child. Assigned most chores to me, because I made sure things were clean. I made sure if one of my younger siblings was out of line, I reminded them about the house rules. My brother just a year younger than me, had very minimal chores, and very limited responsibilities and was allowed more free time to play and get dirty. The only responsibility my younger brothers had was maybe throwing out the trash. These responsibilities placed a lot of pressure on me to make sure I always showed up and got things done even at a young age. These pressures I am sure a lot of women can relate to. Therefore, women have more demands for nurturance made on them. (McGoldrick et al., 2016).

These messages did reflect traditional gender roles. Young girls learn how to cook, clean, and care for others. Boys are allowed more free time to play, assigned tasks that require lifting, and even trust them to venture out without worry. These messages insinuate that men are dominant, leaders, and are held to higher esteem. Male privilege is based on the idea that males are inherently superior to females and patriarchal masculinity is based largely on domination and control of all that is feminine and weak (McGoldrick et al., 2016).

Question: as you raise your own children, do you find yourselves teaching and maintaining traditional gender roles in your home?



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