Gender Roles’ Group Paper


Throughout the years, gender roles throughout the world have changed significantly. This change can be seen in economics, media, education, as well as many other things. Not only do gender roles change as time progresses, but they from culture to culture as well. The following papers will help demonstrate this change and help explain why and where these gender roles occur.

The economic empowerment and advancement of women across the world is of the most remarkable revolutions this world has ever seen. Within the past 50 years, woman have transformed into some of today’s highest economic icons. This change has not taken place everywhere in the world unfortunately. Woman in Thailand play a much different role in the work environment than woman in America’s work force. It did not always used to be like this, however. Women of these two cultures used to share a common bond by uniting within themselves to create a better ideology of workplace in their cultures. Woman in America today have transcended a long way into digging in the America’s labor force. On the other hand, woman in Thailand are still facing an extreme hardship in the working economy.

                Woman in Thailand have a very hard time getting well-paid jobs. According to the Third World Network, 80% of woman’s jobs are factory jobs. (Third World Network) A recent study has been conducted which shows that woman are transitioning into sex related jobs in order to survive. In a video I watched in Anthropology 201, Thailand woman made “Bart Simpson” dolls at an enormous factory. The factory paid the woman 157 baht a day. If a Taiwanese worker wanted to buy a doll, it would cost them 1000 baht at face value. There has always been a hardship for woman in Thailand’s culture. The reason that Thailand’s work environment is so bad can be linked to global economics. As long as corporations can keep labor low and keep demand for the low paying jobs high, they will always find employees. In the past, women have tried to create unions. These unions have failed miserably. The labor laws in Thailand do not work as the ones in American do. Employees threaten unemployment to their employees. Without employment, woman cannot pay rent and care for their children. Because Thailand’s economy is so bad, both spouses in the family are expected to work.

                American woman’s roles in America have changed drastically over the years. In 1900 woman held approximately 21 percent of jobs. These women only worked until they were married and then quit. In a study done by USA today in 2009, woman held 49.83% of the nation’s jobs. (USA Today) They run some of the world’s biggest companies, such as PepsiCo, Archer Daniels Midland and W.L. Gore according to The Economist (The Economist). One reason for increase females in the workplace can be linked to education. Education boosts their value on the job market and shifts their roles from stay-at-home mothers to successful professional women. Currently the unemployment rate of women is 8.6% and is 11.2% for men according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women employment is on the rise and statistically will continue to rise. Working class American woman are still subject to gender bias jobs. Some of these jobs are dental hygienists, teachers, and nurses. Men traditionally hold the upper level jobs in these fields which includes dentistry, deans, and doctors.

                American and Thailand female workers do share one thing in common. Most upper level management for both groups is predominantly men. Only 2% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are woman.  In addition, women make up less than 13% of board members in America. Woman in Thailand hold virtually no management positions. Because most companies are foreign to Thailand, most upper level management does not even work in the country. Another factor that results in little upper level management is lack of education.

                It can be concluded that gender roles for woman in the workplace is extremely different depending on what part of the world you look at. If the economic growth for females in America continues on the path it’s on, woman will soon hold more jobs than men. In Thailand on the other hand, woman continue to face hardship and low wage jobs. There has been hardly any improvement in the female work environment in the last 30 years. This trend is something that needs to be fixed, but it only can be fixed if countries like American and other global economic powers eliminate foreign factories.

             Throughout mass media, gender roles are portrayed and created in usually the same way. In most cases, women are shown as being less authoritative and feminine while as men are depicted as being more masculine. Through internet resources and personal experience, it will be illustrated how consistent the media is with showing stereotyped and unrealistic gender roles. In America, the media-television, magazines, and even children’s books- has seemed to have created fairly rigid gender roles for both men and women.

                Ever since the beginning of television broadcastings in the 1930’s with sitcoms and other shows, gender roles have been clearly portrayed.  In early broadcasts, men were regularly seen for news, talk shows and sitcoms where as women were brought in the sitcoms usually for comic relief. Older shows such as “Gun Smoke” and “I Love Lucy” are great examples of how media distinct differences of expectations for men and women. In “Gun Smoke”, the main character is a masculine sheriff named Marshal Matt Dillon who is always in charge, is respected and is not afraid of anything. Even his appearance makes a statement; he is a tall and muscular man that has a deep authoritative voice. In the show, Miss Kitty is Matt’s special someone. She is usually always at his beck and call and is dressed as in elaborate dresses, always looking flawless and beautiful. Indirectly, you can tell that Kitty is never at the same level as Matt. She usually submits to his authority. “I Love Lucy” is a more of a comedy, where the main character is a women but still is only so in a humorous and submissive way. Lucy is a married woman who is constantly getting into mischief because of her misunderstandings or crazy ideas. Most episodes end in her having to go to her husband and apologize for her mistake and admit that she should’ve listened to his warnings. This exemplifies a stereotype that says women can’t clearly make correct decisions and that a man is usually always right.

                In more recent times there are still many examples of gender roles expectations expressed in television. In a lot of prime time television shows such as CSI and Two and a Half Men both are shows that are male dominated- just like most television shows- and expose the media’s idea of gender roles. In Two and a Half Men the main characters’ actions articulate that women are simply sexual objects that can be conquered and used (Luft). It shows the “cool guy” as the one who can get almost any women he wants and that he is not sensitive to his own as well as anyone else’s emotions. Also, we frequently see Gays, men especially, often being shown merely for a joke and not taken seriously or simply just as the outcast (Verrall).  In all three of the CSI programs, the cast is a majority male and the person with the most power is also usually male. Also, in a crime, it is always seen as extremely scandalous if a man is caught in an affair with another man. Then man would be usually shown to be exceptionally guilty and feeling very shameful. Yet it is almost considered normal to have an affair with a woman.

                Most television shows, old and new, depict women as stay at home moms or women with lower status jobs that are obedient wives and must complete their domestic duty. For men, it is shown to be expected to be a “man’s man” with strength, power, money, confidence and success. If a man were to take on the stereotypical “mother’s role”, he would be made to look like a weak man or a joke.  What’s more is that if a woman takes on a “man’s duty” in the workplace with being successful, demanding, powerful,  and strong she would be most likely be called a “bitch” and be thought of as a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person. Whereas, if a man fulfilled those tasks, he would be called a “stud”.

                There are some who would say that today’s television has more diversity and doesn’t always have rigid and differentiated gender roles. For instance, “The Closer” is a shown in which the woman a detective and is in a position of power over a group of other male detectives. This does show a woman in a masculine viewed job as well as in authority, but she is constantly portrayed as being a very feminine woman. She is always dressed in nice, colorful, dresses or clothing and is always seen with a purse. She is polite and very charming.  There are shows out there that don’t have the stereotypical gender role expectations expressed but the majority of them, indeed, do have it.

                It is common to walk up to the line in the grocery store and see many different magazines bombarding your vision. All of them have people on them that look perfect. Magazines such asBetter Holmes, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, and Playboy are filled with pictures of masculine men and feminine women that very unrealistic along with articles that can further facilitate stereotypes.

 For women these magazines tell how to be a better cook, decorator, mother and sexual partner.  The magazines are filled with photos of women cooking, keeping the house in order and taking care of the children. Also, there are articles to read about how to pleasure your man or how to look sexy. There are celebrity magazines that give women images of the television beauties that they have seen on shows and strive to be like. Men are told how to have a more masculine body, do extreme activities, and are given pictures that present women as sexual objects. These magazines show what is cool and accepted for men and it is usually assumed that if someone doesn’t look like the men in those magazines it somehow makes them less significant. If you can’t bench press 300 pounds, you are not strong. If you do not have a job of seniority, you are not powerful. And if you are not wealthy, you are not successful. These are the kind of messages people infer from these magazines.

Magazines, overall, are geared either to women or to men not both. They tell men to be this way and do this and for women to be that way and do that. Even the advertisements inside of the magazines exhibit gender roles. An advertisement for a house cleaner will show a women while as an advertisement for beer will usually show men sitting around watching a sports game. This is another way media has kept its distinctive gender roles (Gender Roles and the Media).

The media has even represented gender roles in children’s books. Think of all of the Disney stories. A lot of them are pretty princesses that need a strong prince to come to their rescue. It shows girls to be passive, sweet, dependent and nurturing. Whereas, boys are to be independent, strong, active and adventurous. This already sets up the notion that girls need a boy in their life to solve problems. Also, in books girls always seem to be fixated on their appearance and play with dolls or play house or dress up. Boys are encouraged to play sports or cops and robbers (Al-Ghafari).

All in all, the mass media constructs gender roles expectations. Men have been portrayed as having to be very masculine and women as very feminine. Such rigid gender expectations are shown everywhere: in children’s books, magazines and on the television.  You have to ask yourself, “Am I conscious about what I am seeing in the media?” and further, “Do I realize when I mimicking what I have been shown?” Being aware of how gender roles are portrayed in the media is important to know. It is also imperative that you are able to step back and examine whether or not it is influencing you in a way you want to be affected.


  Throughout the history of the world, gender issue towards education has never been neglect by any culture in the world. Most people nowadays agree that male and female should get the equal opportunities to receive education. China has a culture that last more than 5000 years. The gender issue on education in China has changed from time to time.

         In ancient China, females are forbidden from receive any form of education, such as go to school, read books and orally education. Sewing skills, washing clothes, cooking meals, raising children and weaving are the most common skills that a typical ancient Chinese woman would possess. However, men can go to school as long as their family can support them. After graduation, they will take an examination. If someone luckily passes the exam, he will enter the political world and make a nice living out of it. One of the two main reasons for this kind of phenomenon is that in the feudal society, man is superior to woman. The patterns of gender roles orientation like "man is superior and woman inferior", have formed in the pre-Qin period. Men are in charged in most of the things, both outside and domestic. For example, men were intending to make big decision and receive education and women would be response for cooking and sewing.  

           According to Confucius, women were not equal to men and were not worthy to have literary and education(Pillai). This is the second reason. People were more focused on morality, people think read more book or gain more knowledge will make people’s mind more agile, especially for women. Reading will create many destabilizing factors. It will make people’s thoughts flooded, and then lose the control of intellect(檸檬の猪, 2007). So education was regarded as an extremely dangerous thing at that time. There are also exceptions, one kind is females from rich families or royalties can attend school and get educated. The other one is prostitute can get the opportunity to receive education.

           Due of the unequal treatment between man and woman, one woman in China took a huge step up attempting to stop, even reserve this situation. She is the famous Empress Wu, the only woman emperor throughout Chinese History who actually ruled the whole country for almost half of the century. Her father Wu Shihuo was one of the meritorious chancellors of the Tang Dynasty. Therefore when she was young, she read many books and received a good education from her father. The made the fundamental step of she being an empress. After she caught the eye of the emperor of that time, she became emperor Taizong’s concubine because of her beauty and intelligence. Of course she is not going to be satisfy with the status. Her ambition gets bigger and bigger and eventually became the empress of the nation. (PANDAJOJO, 2010)After she became the Empress, Wu Zetian Challenged the rule of Confucius, during her time, she elevated the position of women. The court scholars were asked to write biographies of famous women all over the world. (Anonymous, Chinese Acient Education, 2010)

           Empress has taken a giant leap in the gender equality. At the end of Qing-dynasty, as western culture invade into China, the obstinate thoughts of the Chinese people start to accept the concept of the western culture that man and woman should get the equal opportunities to get educated. The first change in women’s role in Chinese culture was during the public years. At that time, many cities were give opportunities for women to seek formal education, many women cherished this opportunity to study along side the males and this was a milestone for the women. The distinction between men and women is gradually eroding.(Anonymous, Women in Chinese Culture) In modern China, their are still have the prejudice that man would have the superior to woman, however, most people have the point of view that men and women are equal. No matter what gender one is, he or she would be treated the same to receive knowledge.

         In China, education towards gender roles has the tendency to be more and more equal. Everybody can enjoy a higher education nowadays without any gender prejudice. Even more, people can go abroad to improve themselves.

After extensive research, it can be concluded that gender roles are extremely different depending on era as well as location. Unfortunately, these gender roles are not fair nor are they chosen. They are a result of tradition and economic wealth. In order to help move gender roles in a more universalized direction, impoverished areas need to be improved. This improvement looks very vague because the world in which we live in is not fair. Gender roles are real and are discriminatory. Hopefully one day we will live in a world where all people are treated equal.


Annotated Bibliography

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