gender role

(noun) “[S]ociety’s concept of how men and women should behave” (OpenStax College 2012).

Example: The idea that men are breadwinners (money makers) outside the home and women are homemakers that bake the bread and take care of children. Additionally, the idea that men as masculine people are aggressive, competitive, and violent and women as feminine people are gentle, passive, and nurturing.

Audio Pronunciation: (gen·der role)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: gender roles
  • Gender roles change according to society and culture for example hunting and gathering societies typically had fluid gender roles, a less stratified division of labor, and a more egalitarian authority structure.
  • Margaret Mead (1901-1978) studied gender roles in Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935). Mead completed ethnographic research on three tribes in the Southwest Pacific island of New Guinea: the Arapesh, Mundugumor, and Tchambuli. By using the example above as defining masculinity as aggressive, competitive, and violent and femininity as gentle, passive, and nurturing Mead compare and contrasted the tribes. Both men and women in the Arapesh tribe were feminine, both men and women in the Mundugumor tribe were masculine, and in the Tchambuli tribe women were masculine and males were feminine.

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