Gender stereotypes are over-generalizations about the inherent traits and behaviors attributed to and expected of men and women based on social and cultural norms. Despite the social progress in many countries, gender stereotypes persist. Women may still be labeled as caring, timid, and emotional, while men may be described as smart, strong, and stoic. The persistence and negative effects of gender stereotypes has prompted a gender-neutrality movement in which a concerted effort is made to avoid differentiating people by gender. You may have heard of gender-neutral parenting or you may have noticed that major retailers are selling gender-neutral clothing lines. While the movement has its critics, there is an increasing population of people who are concerned with how stereotypes harm men, women, and children. For example, young girls may be discouraged from exploring an interest in science because science is viewed as a masculine subject. Similarly, boys may be discouraged from expressing their emotions, which is perceived as a more feminine activity, and encounter difficulties in close relationships as an adult. How did gender stereotypes come to be and why do they continue to persist? In this discussion, you will explore gender theories that help to answer these questions. To Prepare: Review the article, Feminism and psychology: Analysis of a half-century of research on women and gender.Consider the factors that led to the emergence and evolution of gender theories and research. Review the section on stereotypes in the Encyclopedia of Gender in Media. Reflect on the meaning and implications of gender stereotypes. Read the remaining resources on gender. Pay particular attention to how gender stratification, gender schema, and moral reasoning theories account for the development of stereotypes. Identify one gender stereotype that exists. Think about how the theories and research you read about this week explain the development of this stereotype. Then consider the implications of the stereotype on men and women or boys and girls if it is perpetuated.
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