Posted by: rachelyoungldsp | October 4, 2016

Gender Role Development

All semester, we have been discussing the differences between men and women, particularly in the realm of leadership, but also in terms in behaviors and actions.  Gender roles start with gender stereotypes, which are what we find appropriate and representative of the characteristics for males and females.  Gender roles are how these gender stereotypes are reflected, by us as members of society,  in everyday behavior.  These gender roles affect children from before the day they are gone; their nursery is decorated in accordance of gender, their clothes are either pink or blue, and they either wear pants or skirts.

Gender roles are developed through many different mediums including parents and siblings.  Parents are the first people who have an impact on a child’s gender role and what it means to be either a boy or girl.  Children, like the sponges that they are, absorb all both their parent’s messages as well as what they observe from their parents in their adult roles of either a male or female.  It has been found that by the age of two, we can already see sex role differences in children.  Parents are the biggest advocates for gendered toys and activities; girls play with princesses and dolls, while boys play with trucks.  The affect that siblings have on gender roles depend on their birth order the six of the family.  Typically, same sex siblings engaged in “gender appropriate” actives while siblings of different genders tended to play the activities that the oldest child wanted to play.

Aside from the typical affects of families on gender role, it is found that atypical parenting styles tend to lead to more successful children.  These parents can be ones where the mothers work or the fathers do the laundry or cook dinner.  The children for non-stereotypical parents tend to be more flexible, have higher self-esteem and greater identity achievement. It has been seen that female girls with a working mother who enjoys her career is more likely to complete higher levels of school and work towards a career.

So, how does this effect leadership? Leadership is all of these gender roles and gender stereotypes, but it looks like we would benefit from more of the non-stereotypical parents that way the children grow up without the preconceived notions of gender.  Like we have talked about in class discussion, the end goal is not necessarily for gender equality but to end the concept of gendering ideas such as leadership.  If we as a society, or we as the world could somehow look at topics without looking at the masculine or feminine traits behind them, we would be far better off  than where we are now.

Unfortunately, as discussed above, gender roles play a large role in our daily life since before we are born and it is almost (if not) an unconscious action to organize ideas and concepts by gender as well as by other stereotyped criteria.  Because it is so ingrained in our daily life, it would take generations of time as well as constant awareness to think of ideas such as leadership or careers without associating them with a gender.



Berryman, Kristy, Sarah Hollis, and Rachael Power. “Gender Role Development.” Gender Role Development. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.



  1. This is an interesting post. I don’t know if I agree with everything that is said. From my personal experience, my mom and dad both had jobs and worked hard at them. They are both pharmaceutical reps, but for different companies. It has been that way for about 10+ years now. When I was younger (I am the oldest child), my mom was looking for an “adult job”. She was working at the Lowes down the street from us part time doing something with keys and locks. So I grew up with my mom being around and lot, and my dad being out of town more. After my mom started her job as a pharmaceutical rep she was still around more than my dad. He would be out of town almost every week for one night. So, I saw more of my mom doing everything around the house. Even though she was working and working hard she was still around more than my dad was. So my sisters and I saw her cooking more, cleaning more, and just taking care of us more in general. Which is the more stereotypical way a family is (even though my mom was working). I believe that I, and my sisters, have done very well in school. I mean, I’m in college! I know that I have very high expectations set for myself, as do my sisters. We also grew up knowing that we could do or be anything that we wanted. I loved to play with barbies, but at the same time, I always got the “boy toy” at McDonalds when they were gendered. I just think that it is hard saying that people are one way or the other because of the way they grew up. Everyone’s life as they grow up is very different. It isn’t just one way or the other. Not everyone grows up with seeing their mom do everything while only their dad works, or vice versa. It is a lot more complex than that, so I think it is hard to put them in two seperate categories.

  2. I think the research talking about the results of non-conforming-to-stereotype parents is extremely interesting. But I feel like there are a lot of details missing. It could be useful to know how many people were studied, what kinds of people, from what backgrounds, and in what culture. Culture would certainly have the biggest effect on this type of study. In America, the idea of parents who defy the stereotype of the mom staying at home and being domestic while the dad works is not uncommon. Especially in the last few decades. But some countries very very rarely see the stereotypes broken, so I feel like it may have a more harmful effect on the children rather than a positive one. There’s no way to know for sure, but I think this would be a really interesting thing to look into. This research could make the question more complex and diverse, and the results may be much more concrete and easier to use as a basis for societal change.

  3. I agree that the way a child is socialized does have a big impact on the behaviors that they will have. But I don’t think the home life has a big of an impact on how they will end up leading, I think that their style would be shaped more by the leaders they see. Most kids do not start to see themselves as leaders until they are older and normally they would have those non-conforming thoughts in their head. But unfortunately, if that is not what they see other leaders doing they might change themselves to leader based on what they have seen. And it they do have a style that breaks gender norms they are probably going to struggle more because they do not conform, their followers might not accept them or they may be forced to lead in a different way by peers. I also agree with the above statement that this idea may not work well outside of the U.S., there are many countries where girls going to school is radical. So making changes in gender behavior would be frowned upon and may even be dangerous for a leader to try. I feel that this un-gendered leadership would probably thrive in more western and more progressive areas, but in more traditional regions I see it struggling. But I think that for our society with all the challenges being made to tradtional leadership that as we move forward the will be more of a non-gendered leadership style.

  4. During my interview for our first paper, she discussed how her husband had to present her ideas as his own, not only because he was a male but because he was a West Virginia State Trooper. The men all loved her ideas. She was also criticized as a mother because she was not afraid to reprimand the children, while most of the women were uncomfortable doing that it would leave it up to the children. She said the family members who elected to the let the males reprimand the children set themselves up for failure when the children were teenagers, especially the boys. Her daughter has taken on her parenting style and she is grateful that she could be the role model for her daughter, and teach that it doesn’t take a man to be strong and do the hard things. She did subtly hint that there was a difference between one simply filling the shoes of an absent father figure, and trying to be the father figure. She said it is important that the children understand the role you play as a parent, and that they respect it, but more importantly the should not associate mommy with cookies and daddy with spankings, it simply isn’t fair to both male and females

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