Understanding Gender and Women’s Studies

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Discrimination Pages: 5 (1425 words) Published: June 17, 2011
Gender issues have been plaguing our society for several centuries. Discrimination against women exists in every area of life in varying degrees and forms. Women continue to suffer as the most disadvantaged group in spite of the efforts taken by the reformers and the Government. Hence, the concept of gender and Women’s Studies need to be understood to facilitate the process of women empowerment. 1.2Gender

Refers to the roles and responsibilities of men and women that are created in our families, our societies and our cultures. The concept of gender also includes the expectations held about the characteristics, aptitudes and likely behaviours of both women and men (femininity and masculinity). 1.3Difference between Sex and Gender

Sex is the biological distinction between males and females, whereas, gender is the significance a society attaches to the biological categories of female and male i.e. "masculine and feminine". Biological ContextSocial Context

XX vs. XY chromosomesFamily roles
Estrogen vs. testosteroneGender segregation of jobs
Body size, shape, body hair, muscle developmentAggressiveness/tenderness

1.4Gender Role
Socially determined behaviors, tasks and responsibilities for women and men based on socially perceived differences that define how women and men should act. Gender roles change over time, through individual choices or with social or political changes such as economic crises, natural disasters and consequent emergencies, and post-war situations in which the decision-making power and responsibilities of women and men may vary. 1.5Gender Identity

It is a subjective, but continuous and persistent, sense of ourselves as masculine or feminine. 1.6Gender Stereotyping

The term gender stereotyping is a socially determined model which contains the cultural belief about what the gender roles should be. Gender stereotypes vary on four dimensions: traits, role behaviors, physical characteristics, and occupations, for example, whereas men are more likely to be perceived as aggressive and competitive, women are more likely to be viewed as passive and cooperative. Traditionally, men have been viewed as financial providers, whereas women have been viewed as caretakers.


Example of stereotypingWay of thinking encouraged by this stereotypeOther possible ways of thinking not shown by the stereotype Many advertisements show mothers serving meals to their families (but very few show fathers doing this).These advertisements seem to suggest that mothers do all the housework and cooking, and really enjoy this.Men should do more of the cooking. Some mothers hate doing housework.

Many newspaper photographs, films, advertisements and television programs show men engaged in physically active pastimes such as sport, rock-climbingThese kind of portrayals highlight men are more stronger when compared to women and hard core sports and other related activities are purely men’s domain

Women should portrayed as carrying out tougher jobs like their male counterparts.

1.7 Gender Discrimination

Gender discrimination is a condition where people of either gender are treated unfairly within society because of their gender. Examples: Lack of human rights for females in poverty, Prejudice with regard to male roles within the home and in childcare, stereotypes of men and women within the workplace. Men often feel pressure from society to be the breadwinners and are often not given the opportunity to help with bringing up children and loose self-confidence and self-esteem if they are out of work.

Hence, there are some areas of empowerment that are needed for women and girls to make sure that they can take responsibility for all matters affecting their lives, and can work with men on an equal basis. Following modes of empowerment will help in removing the concept of gender discrimination. Gender discrimination results in the...
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