The essay focuses on Gender Role as the topic for the interview. I have chosen this topic owing to its immense contribution to the process of understanding the gendered social systems in different societies. In most societies in America and around the world, gender roles have been primarily personal and cultural. These roles determine how men and women should speak, dress, think, labor, and interact within the societal context (Sudha 126). Learning has been essential toward shaping the gender roles. Socializing agents such as parents, peers, teachers, music, movies, religion, and books play significant part of teaching and reinforcing gender roles all through the entire lifespan of humanity. However, parents are perhaps exerting the greatest influence considering that they intervene and mould the character together with the roles of male or female child throughout childhood, and even occasionally at adulthood (Sudha 126). Many of the parents involve themselves in actively shaping the gender roles and expectations of the youngsters conceivably because they were also at one time recipients of similar expectations.
Going by the traditional norms, fathers taught boys how to build and fix things, whereas the mothers taught their daughters how to sew, cook, and maintain the house. Once the children have conformed to the conventional gender expectations, they would then assume roles that were universally and culturally acceptable. Other socializing agents would then come in to strengthen further these assumptions particularly on the kind of roles expected on male children and those associated with females (Wayne 4). For instance, teachers, peers, and the media were critical to socialization and shaping up gender roles. Accordingly, the gender roles adopted at a time when the individual was very young continue into adulthood. The subject is also evident at different workplaces, as many organizations tend to design certain responsibilities specifically for particular gender. Various forms of gender stereotypes have arisen due to the widespread expectations associated with distinct gender or sex. Apparently, the culture along with upbringing highly influence gender roles and stereotypes based on gender (Wayne 10). In summary, gender role refers to a set of behavioral and social norms that are socially acceptable or appropriate for people of particular sex, within a definite society or culture. Gender role may also refer to a set of traits or characteristics that distinguish between men and women (or boys and girls), and determines the gender identity of an individual. Ordinarily, societies across the globe have two main genders namely the masculine (male) and feminine (female).
Description of the Interview
The 30-minute interview was conducted on June 6, 2013 between 1000 and 1030 hrs.
(i) What do you understand by the term Gender Role?
(ii). What is the traditional point of view on the subject of Gender Role?
(iii). Do parents or guardians anticipate different things from sons as compared to daughters?
(iv). Do you consider certain professions as meant for either males or females?
(v).Should boys and girls be brought up in absolutely different way?
(vi). Are men and women equal in their intelligence and physical ability?
(vii). What are the similarities and differences between gender roles, gender stereotypes, and gender identity?
(viii). Who do you believe should primarily provide for the family?
(ix). Do you believe gender roles exist at place of work?
Short Description of the Interviewee
The interviewee is a professional editor of the school newspaper. The editor (a female) has several years of experience as a journalist and expert in matters of gender and women in society. She had previously worked at a non-Governmental organization as a consultant on gender issues before taking up the role of researcher and newspaper editor of the school newspaper. She mainly focuses on just, impartial, and professional journalism particularly on matters touching on gender or sex of students, tutors, and the school community in entirety. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Mass Communication, and a Master in Gender Studies. She has had a successful career in the NGO world and earned promotions in different capacities.
In the same way, her determination and intelligent contributions has led to growth in popularity and readership of the school newspaper. Today, the demand for the newspaper by student fraternity, teachers, support staff, and those in the neighborhoods and beyond has increased tremendously. She has categorically influenced the way reporters and the editorial team present news to the readers by ensuring there is impartiality, fairness, and sensitiveness to the existing gender roles, gender identity, gender stereotypes, and sexual orientation within the school context and the society. Therefore, I was convinced this editor was the right person to interview to gain adequate insight on gender issues, particularly the gender roles.
Summary of Response to the Interview Questions
The newspaper editor provided a comprehensive response to every question I fronted. She acknowledged the fact that there are several definitions for gender role. In her view, the meaning and implication of gender role primarily depended on the standpoint as well as understanding of a group, ethnicity or society. Similarly, the definition would change taking into consideration the era or period of reference. She argues that gender role from the traditional perspective refers to the conformation to conventional expectations. In this regard, parents and close relatives played a vital role of teaching the male and female children what was expected of them culturally and universally (Wayne 4). Furthermore, she recognized the fundamental role that teachers and peers played in shaping the gender roles and sexual orientation of young people. Nevertheless, she asserted that the media (print, electronic, and new media) could influence the gender role and identity of individuals in a positive and negative manner.
On the aspect of parent expectations, the newspaper editor responded by stating that fathers expect their sons to take up roles similar to those they executed during childhood and adulthood. Similarly, mothers influence gender roles of their daughters by explaining to them roles they consider relevant and necessary for a girl child because they (the mothers) have been in one way or the other involved in discharging those roles or duties. Although the interviewee attested to the assumption of society that certain professions are meant for specific gender, she was quick to substantiate that modernity and globalization have changed the perception. In essence, men and women in the contemporary society are gradually embracing professions that were traditionally a preserve for members of particular gender.
Furthermore, she argued that the social environment and family set up highly influenced how boys and girls are brought up in the society. In terms of physical ability and intelligence, the interviewee avowed that the alleged differences are merely gender stereotypes. To her, the level of intelligence or even physical ability would depend on the individual regardless of gender (Wayne 4). The similarities and differences between gender role, gender stereotype, and gender identity would depend on the context, and society assumptions among other considerations.
On the issue of who should provide for the family, she believes that the spouse should collectively contribute to provide for the family. However, the man is conventionally the provider for the entire family. However, she believes that with modernity, the difference in terms of gender roles has diminished significantly. Thus, gender roles no longer exist at workplace.
Analysis of the Interview
From the interview, I have discovered that activities and responsibilities that were traditionally based on gender have diminished significantly. Today, nearly every individual irrespective of sex or gender can effectively perform any role provided they have relevant experience, academic and professional qualifications. Through the interview, I have come to realize that traditional gender roles largely determined how men and women looked and acted. In essence, gender roles corresponded to the respective behaviors and traits of each sex.
In some societies, especially the Modern West, gender role have been associated with the gender identity of the person. In effect, Western concepts such as ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ have emerged. Thus, individuals in these societies would take up roles depending on the type of gender they identify with (Wharton 3). In the same way, socially enforced values and norms influenced behavior of individuals. Gender stereotypes have also contributed substantially to the kind of roles traditionally associated with individuals of particular gender. Finally, gender typing as a process, has influenced children’s (males and females) acquiring the values, behaviors, and motives regarded as suitable within the culture and society.
Sudha, D K. Gender Roles. New Delhi: A.P.H. Pub. Corp, 2000. Print. 126
Wayne, Tiffany K. Women’s Roles in Nineteenth-Century America. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Print.
Wharton, Amy S. The Sociology of Gender: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Chichester [etc.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print.