Gender stereotypes are mostly taken for granted at a young age: girls are told to play with dolls and boys are told to play with trucks. But as children grow older they find themselves in a world where the reality of gender roles and stereotypes aren’t acknowledged, and the illusion of gender neutrality is commended. If gender roles are becoming more neutral, then it would follow that gender role stereotypes are also becoming more lax. However, in actuality this is not true.
Banerjee and Lintern (2000) examined the salience of children’s preference for toys in private and public settings. Their findings indicate that younger children hold more rigid ideas of what kinds of toys their gender should be playing with, and that children would present their toy preferences as being more gender influenced in public settings. Older children were found to have more flexible ideas of how gender should influence their toy preference, and showed a significantly lower rate of altering their toy selection when in public or group settings (Banerjee & Lintern, 2000). These findings indicate that the societal construction of gender is present from a young age, dictating what appropriate behavior is for boys and girls.
While the gender stereotypes children have loosen over time (Banerjee & Lintern, 2000), it cannot be said that as they grow older their perception of gender is stereotype-free. Gender itself is a social construction combining biological sex, culture, attachment experiences, and brain development (McKenzie, 2010). Going against gender roles can have relationship and social consequences. McKenzie (2010) describes a case study of a woman, Gail, who was in a heterosexual marriage for nearly 20 years before falling in love with a woman and deciding to pursue a path of more resistance: going against female gender norms. While her ex-husband and children accepted her decision, Gail received criticism and hostility from family members and close friends (McKenzie, 2010). Women with strong masculine traits often receive similar criticism; women are expected to behave differently than men. One study found that in professional business environments women were more likely to disclose chronic illness and find social support, while men were expected to maintain composure and not stray from the task at hand (Munir, Price, Haslam, Leka, & Griffiths, 2006). To further highlight this difference between genders on the disclosure of personal information, women who score high in feminine traits are more likely to become emotionally invested and disclose personal information about themselves in conversations with acquaintances (Shaffer, Pegalis, & Cornell, 2001).
Vinkenburg, van Engen, Eagly, and Johannesen-Schmidt (2011) found that gender differences in communication style norms can also impact advancement in careers. While the differences in group collaboration and leadership styles between men and women may be trivial, and perception of gender-based leadership...