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Gender Socialization Essay

1755 words - 8 pages

Gender role is defined as the social position and behavioral norm that is considered appropriate for an individual of a specific gender in the society (Liu, 2003). Every society has its unique culture and gender role is one of the products of a society’s history and culture. It is not set up by a single person within a short period, but by countless people in the society for thousands years. Parents started to shape their children’s gender by dressing and naming them according to their gender soon after birth. (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet) As children grow elder, they are exposed to a wider world and are then socialized by agents outside their family, such as schools and media companies. This ...view middle of the document...

Even today, many Chinese families do accept and follow the gender role of male being the heads of families and women’s responsibilities of taking care of children and households as this perception has been instilled into their minds at a very early age. To them, this division of work among two sexes is as normal as female should go to the toilet for female.
One socialization institution where children experience gender socialization is school. Bem (1993) pointed out that most children develop a gender schema between age 5 to 7. Children consolidate their knowledge with their misconceptions into a network of notion and expectations about male or female. Therefore, school being a place where knowledge is transmitted to children since their early year could play a particularly significant role in constructing children’s gender identity. A study conducted in school settings in Hong Kong found that stereotyped gender values are transmitted to children mainly through two socialization practices of teachers, namely gender segregation and perpetuation of gender stereotypes (Chen, 2010). Bigler (1995) suggested that adults should prevent grouping children by gender as children would easily develop gender stereotypes when their classification skills are limited. However, it is found that in kindergarten setting, class teachers frequently segregated children by gender and boys and girls are kept distant from each other during recess and toilet breaks. Although gender segregation is necessary during toilet time as boys and girls use different washrooms based on their gender, it is unnecessarily used as a grouping method in other learning and teaching activities. This practice reinforces the traditional idea that boys should avoid touching girls under normal circumstances (Sturgeon, 2009).
For perpetuation of gender stereotypes, teachers grant boys more attention and interact with boys more frequently than girls (Chen, 2010). The reason for this is that boys tend to misbehave more than girls. Kindergarten teachers often overlook the off-task behaviors of girls but are less tolerant to boys’ off-task behavior in classroom learning. They issue rewards for boys’ good conduct more easily and boys are frequently given more privilege of first priority without apparent reasons. Girls repeatedly observe the differential treatment would unconsciously lean about the idea of male-centeredness and think that they are more inferior than boys. At the same time, boys would experience gender inequality as the teachers frequently pick on their misbehaviors. As a result, the two gender socialization practice would impose negative influences upon the self-image of the Chinese boys and girls. Once this gender schema is developed and becomes rigid, it is difficult to dislodge children’s perception of gender roles
Another major socialization institution who promotes stereotyped values in all kinds in the contemporary society is media companies. Mass media serve functions of...

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