Gender Social Conditioning

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The Influence Of Education On Gender Socialization

The common misconception about gender nowadays is that it has the same meaning as sex, something innate and natural. However, since 1970s, increasingly more anthropologists like Margaret Mead agree that gender is something that can be conditioned and is prone to socialization. Since a young age, possibly around two to three years old when an infant begins to develop higher cognitive functions, society bombards them with different signals that slowly condition them into a specific gender role: male or female. By gender role, I am referring to a set of attitudes or behaviors that is encouraged or at least expected of a person based on his or her gender. This also means that gender is malleable and a product of socio-cultural and historical contingencies – a social construct. Normal traits that we associate with a specific gender like aggressiveness with men and gentility with women are not as natural as they seem. In fact, these seemingly normative behaviors have been slowly fortifying our own perspectives about gender roles but also help shape people into a gendered being. Therefore, boys are raised to conform to male gender role and girls are brought up to fit the female gender role. In a ‘Western Society’ for example the US or Europe, education becomes an integral part of a child’s livelihood from a very young age. The influences from education that condition children into specific gendered beings cannot be ignored as school time accounts for most of a child or teenager’s life. I am highlighting that this is common in ‘the West’ because family expectations or religious traditions might be the bigger factor or influence for gender socialization in communitarian or other types of societies. I would like to start with an observation I made about this particular issue while looking through an English language textbook for beginners. In a chapter about occupations, I noted that most jobs associated with the...
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