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gender role

Definition of Gender Role

(noun) The expected role determined by an individual’s sex and the associated attitudes, behaviors, norms, and values.

Examples of Gender Role

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

Gender Role Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: gen·der role

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈʤɛndər roʊl/
  • British English – /ˈʤɛndə rəʊl/

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.
  • Children are often assigned gender roles at birth when boys are wrapped in blue blankets and girls are wrapped in pink blankets.
  • Gender socialization is the process of learning your gender role.
  • 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 compared 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.

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

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Cite the Definition of Gender Role

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gender role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 15, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/gender-role/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

gender role. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/gender-role/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gender role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/gender-role/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“gender role.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/gender-role/>.