We learned what a gender role as a young child by observing our family interactions and our community. Unfortunately, on the playground, we may break out of our defined gender role and face criticism like a girl is a tomboy or a boy shouldn't play with dolls. Recently, our society has been changing the definition of gender roles, moving them closer together, and people are speaking up about it.
The Definition of Gender Role
A gender role is a place you hold in a family, relationship or society as a whole because you are male or female.
The Oxford dictionary's definition is the role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms.
Historically, a man's gender role was the breadwinner, earning money to support the family through outside work. A woman's gender role was to care for the family and household, providing support for the man.
In the last few decades, however, the question, "What is a gender role?" has become harder to answer, as gender roles have grown increasingly closer together. More breadwinner wives are providing the majority or all of the household income thus enriching the economy. While more stay-at-home dads are proving that men are able to nurture and raise children.
Speaking Up is More Popular
Women are doing less housework and childcare (still more than men though) because they are delegating the work. Women understand that if they want to "do it all" they will need help.
When we all work together, doing jobs outside of our gender role, we are happier at home and feel less constricted. Asking for help is no longer a sign of weakness no matter what your gender role is.
Then at work, more women are speaking up more, too! They understand that if they want to make a difference they have to make their opinion known.
Also, if they want to get ahead in their job they have to be their best advocate.
Our Economy is Getting Stronger
At work, 70% of mothers in the US are showing up to work. If we want to afford a good lifestyle it's almost impossible on a single income. So because both parents are working our kids are seeing equally contributing to the wealth of the family.
Speaking of wealth, the goal to close the wage gap would benefit us all. UN Women says that the US women are paid "... on average 79 cents for every $1 that men earn and identify the gender pay gap as their primary workplace concern". Awareness of this problem has exploded with the message that it's not just a feminist issue, it's everyone's issue. The role that women play in the workforce is changing and hopefully, their pay will, too.
Family is Becoming More Important
Men are seeking work/life balance now more than ever. They miss the kids, too!. Mean want to be around the house more and be present just as much as women do.
The schools are asking for more involvement. Who should attend these events? Sometimes it's both parents that show up! No longer are school activities only for the moms because the dad wants to play an active role.
Because of the culture shift with more women in demanding jobs men are opting to stay home. This change is based on people's personalities and strengths, not their gender. When we play to our strengths we all win! So it's important for society to look past gender roles and examine the people involved.
Emotional Intelligence Affects Us All
With the rise of emotional intelligence it's no longer a crime to appear sensitive or empathetic. On the contrary it makes you more approachable and a better leader when you are in tune with your emotions. Gone are the days where men were tough bosses shouting orders and women nodding to appease them.
We will have a better chance for a satisfying life when we are in touch with our feelings. People are more focused on finding their purpose and setting goals.
We've discovered that if we feel happy about our job and our personal life we will work harder to succeed. Imagine that!
Let's Continue The Evolution
There will always be differences between men and women. Let's celebrate the natural variety of human existence! Due to popularity, we aren't as limited by a gender role when it comes to our career and family choices. Instead, we are encouraged to make decisions based on our personal strengths, interests and feelings.
When we break the mold of gender roles we are making the world a better place. Let's act as good role models showing our children that no one should be limited according to their gender role. All we want to be is a happy close-knit family who is happy. This calls for breaking the mold of historical gender roles and we're doing just that.
Source: UN Women
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory