Posted by: lkd1998 | January 30, 2020

Following Gender Norms From Dating to Leadership

It is ingrained in society that there should be certain expectations held for men versus women. This is based in stereotypes and norms that have been placed for ages on genders. Typically, men are supposed to be the tough, strong, hard working, money makers in a couple. Women are supposed to be dainty, delicate, weak, and the housekeepers of a family. However, when these norms aren’t met, even in this modern world, people become uncomfortable.

In a study I found titled, “Who pays for dates? Following versus challenging gender norms,” the researchers observed a shift towards gender equality; however, it was found that there was still considerable adherence to gender norms especially in one-on-one interactions between men and women such as dating. Though the majority of men women both contribute financially in a relationship, most of the expenses still fall on the man despite the rising average salary of a woman. According to the study, this is due to the historic notion of chivalry and men as the provider. But who is to say that women should not be ‘chivalrous’ and take on financial or other burdens?

The concept of gender norms connects to leadership trait theory. Trait theory assumes that leadership success is determined by individual traits suited to leadership. Masculine traits include aggression, dominance, assertiveness, and confidence and are often associated with successful leadership. Feminine traits typically include passivity, nurture, and empathy, traits that are often seen as weaknesses for leaders. This connects to the leadership placement of men and women in that women are not typically supposed to be dominant and/or assertive. Dominance/assertiveness are much needed aspects of leadership, as a leader should easily take charge and influence a crowd. However, some people feel uncomfortable if women are anything but meek. Leadership instead requires both masculine and feminine traits to truly be effective.

Further complicating the issue is the importance of biological differences. While it is completely respectable for men and women to strive for equality in the workplace, dating world, leadership opportunities, or other ventures, biologically, we are created differently for certain reasons. Should these norms continue to be held in place or should women also attempt to jump the biological hurdles to become equal in all aspects to men?

What do you think of these norms? Should they continue to be held? Should they completely dissolve? Or, should some norms be held for certain reasons (such as biological factors) while others are removed? Why?


  1. Throughout my time in college especially this class I have learned that while dating I very much allow myself to fall into gender norms and stereotypes. I laugh at bad jokes and let men explain to me things that I already know and often know more than them about. My question is, what is good dating etiquette and what is allowing the continuation of gender norms and stereotypes, and where do we draw the line? I am very conscious of the way I present myself around men, not being dominate and appearing the same level or lower intelligence than them. How do I stop continuing these gender norms and stereotypes while at the same time have a good dating life? This is a topic that I am very interested in, gender and dating. I would be interested in how men see gender stereotypes and norms.

  2. This topic is really interesting because I feel as though we are in a cultural shift where the chivalrous expectations are still steady while the new style of dating and views on gender norms are changing. I think a lot of this has to do with the way in which women are representing themselves differently from the stereotypical fair maiden who needs saving or just accepting the socially constructed role of being a typical American housewife. For example, with the crusade for women empowerment to be seen as equal to men, the image of independence outweighs the old image of dependence. I consider myself to be very independent, resilient, confident, and get excited when I learn really cool things. I have often wondered are men “scared” of an independent and knowledgeable woman? When really I should be looking at myself and saying why am I submitting to these older social norms? I should not be stubborn and rather change with the times.

    I admit to falling into this gendered social norm of believing that the man should pay on the first date or be the one to ask a woman out. However, I think the woman should definitely contribute to paying on future dates. At a restaurant where I work, we create special menus for the guests if they have a special occasion. I remember a woman had us write “Would you be my boyfriend?” on the menu. At first glance I thought with a negative connotation, “Wow that’s bold.” And then I quickly feared what would happen if he rejected her. Looking back on it, I should have thought “Good for her.” This woman literally took a chance and defied the gendered norms of chivalry.

    In regards to leadership, I think having the man and woman both take on a mix of masculine and feminine traits within a relationship could create a balance on this topic of equality in the dating realm. The article mentioned that men are in a bind because some women get upset when the man does not accept her offer to pay and other women mention they would like to contribute to paying to be seen as an equal. To some degree it is almost like a “show-off” of values contest, or battle between the old and new way of dating culture. I guess we will have to see if the gendered norms will completely change with upcoming generations.

  3. I definitely have found myself noticing the gender norms in dating. My parents are much older and have a more “traditional” view on dating and relationships. However, they definitely broke away from the norm in many ways. For example, my mother—although my father had his own business—made more money, my parents held off getting married until they both were on the career path they wanted, and when it was finally time to get engaged, my mom proposed to my dad. Today, with social media and the different female empowerment movements women have become empowered to “make the first move.” While my parents always taught me to find someone who loves and respects me, there is nothing wrong with not following the “norm” and making the first move. However, for those who follow and firmly believe in the “traditional” views of dating they are missing out on many opportunities.

    Connecting dating to leadership is a very interesting link. However, after reading your post I can definitely see where the lines are drawn. Unfortunately, there are still many people in our society that believe that the gender and biological norms severely impact one’s ability to lead. The reading we have assigned for class on Tuesday discusses Claire, a transgender woman, in her work environment. Muhr and Sullivan write, “we suggest that the leader’s body is regulated, supported and challenged by employees who rely on the heterosexual matrix to make sense of how leadership should be performed” (Muhr & Sullivan, 2013). I think this answers your question and relates really well to your post because the results of their study found that these challenges are still present. Their study found that employees rely on the male or female norms of leadership to judge how their leader is doing.

    I believe these norms, while unhelpful, are very difficult to completely remove from society. While some may claim that once the older generations are no longer around, we can move past them, they have still taught others. This means that the older generations have educated their children and grandchildren and passed down beliefs that are now engrained into younger generations. Therefore, they will still be around as long as they are passed down through generations.

  4. I have never thought of the correlation between gender norms in dating and in leadership before, but the two follow similar standards. Like mentioned, men in leadership positions are expected to be dominant, assertive, and confident. This is also seen in the traditional dating norms. The man is expected to ask women out which exerts confidence and pay for the meal which can almost be seen as an act of dominance. While often this is beneficial to women in the dating world, in the workplace this adds to their disadvantages. Women are still expected to be gentle, warm and not overly assertive so they express any of the more masculine traits they are likely to be disliked. Like mentioned leadership requires both the masculine and feminine traits and women are constantly facing the double bind both at work and in their daily lives.

    Additionally, the norms of dating are fairly ingrained into the majority of people’s minds. One of the most well known norms is the man paying on the first date. I definitely find myself falling into this gendered social norm of expecting the guy to pay for the first date. I do always offer to pay for part of the bill but find myself hoping they will reject my offer… Beyond the first date though I definitely mean it when I say I want to contribute or cover the whole bill. I think one reason that these gendered norms are still so prevalent is because of movies, tv shows, and books. Romantic movies often portray the man as the confident one making the first moves and often paying for the meals. While movies are beginning to shy away from these stereotypical roles they are still often represented.

    Overall, I think that the gender norms that are seen in dating are making it harder for women to make progress in the workplace. It will be difficult for all of society to move forward but if little by little people do I think it will be beneficial to not only women but men.

  5. This was a very interesting post to read. We often think of gender in relation to society and gender in relation to leadership. However, we never think of how social gender norms play a fact into leadership. As a woman who typically does more “masculine” jobs and tends to be more “strong” and “assertive” I often fo against the more feminine stereotypes placed upon me by society. It often makes people around me uncomfortable because they expect me to act a certain way because of my gender. When I do not fit into these norms they do not know how to feel.

    I have been very fortunate in my past relationships so both of us feel as if we can take equal responsibility for paying for things and being “chivalrous”. I have never understood why we except certain genders to pay or be more romantic than others. I feel like, in a relationship, both parties should be able to feel free to “spoil” the other person. Only until society as a whole accepts that all genders can be chivalrous and like it is okay to pay can gender expectations in relationships be overcome.

    Like I said earlier, I find it very fascinating that you connect dating expectations for different genders and show the correlation to leadership traits. It really got me thinking that, in order to change how women and leadership can progress, there needs to be a fundamental shift in society. We can only make progress with women in leadership roles if society moves past and overcomes harmful norms placed on all genders.

    As to your questions, I think these norms are harmful to society. They force people to act and behave in certain ways they may not need to solely because of their gender expression. People are conditioned to act in certain ways because if they do not follow them they will be viewed as outcasts. I do not think these norms should continue to be held. I think they should be dissolved completely. However, I am also realistic and understand that they are deeply rooted in society so it will take ages to overcome them. It is hard to overcome norms because as soon as one socially constructed norm is destroyed another one is created and put in its place.

  6. I think the norms around gender and dating are outdated and limiting and as a woman I know I personally work against conforming to these norms, but it is a conscious effort as opposed to what might be more comfortable. I personally think whoever initiates the date should pay, but I also don’t have an aversion to asking a man out, whereas some women prefer the more “chivalrous” approach in which a man makes the first move. This carries over to my leadership style as well though. I feel very aware of stereotypes and misconceptions and when possible go against them. For example, when we were talking in class the other day about “phone voices” it occurred to me that I also use a different tone, but that I actually lower my natural tone in hopes of being more commanding. The very idea that I feel the need to do this to be respected is demonstrative of how harmful gender norms are and how permeating they are to so many, if not all aspects of life

  7. I think it is definitely very important for women to also be able to take on these financial ‘burdens’ but I think one of the big reasons that they do not often do so is because they can be afraid to disrupt these gender norms.

    As a queer woman myself, I find that a lot of these gender norms are broken down in non-heterosexual relationships. Because the nature of the relationship or even a singular date is already removed from the norm, I feel as though both parties are able to be on a more level playing field in which it does not matter who pays or who texts first. While some gender norms can still be prevalent at times, I find that it is normally due to other factors, like which party is financially able to pay for the date. Especially in the case of dating non-binary or trans folks, these barriers and norms are broken down, and things are often split instead of one person paying for the entire thing.

    I think norms that do not harm either party are okay, but I do think that there should be more freedom in dating. While there are some biological differences between men and women, I do not believe that these should contribute to the norms that we see in dating. Like I said the other day in class, at the end of the day we are all just people.

  8. I very much agree that gender norms in relationships are outdated and should be reevaluated. I remember growing up in a household where my mom was the breadwinner, housekeeper, nurturer, yet strict parent. She encompassed all the traits that were usually split between the man and woman in a relationship, so I was never really exposed to gender norms in relationships until I started dating. I remember getting so annoyed by little statements made by past boyfriends, such as “ladies shouldn’t open their own doors”. I felt belittled, in a way, by statements like these because it seemed like they were saying that as a female, I am too weak to be opening doors for myself. What they saw as respect, I saw as them asserting dominance. In my current relationship, we see each other as human beings. Financially we support each other and don’t ask for anything in return, and certain gender stereotypes are never assumed. For example, if I’m having trouble opening a jar or can’t reach something high up, I’ll ask him to help. He will always help me, but what is important to me is that he never assumes I need help. Being in a healthy and complimentary relationship has made gender norms in our society even more visible to me; because I am secure in my relationship I see insecurities in our society more often in regards to gender norms. Being treated equally within relationships or even just male and female friendships causes one to be more secure in themselves and become a better version of themselves.

  9. As a woman who dates both men and women, I feel I am uniquely suited to comment on this issue. When dating men, I find myself conforming to gender norms, i.e. letting the man pay for the date, letting him open the door, etc. On the contrary, when dating women, I tend to split things evenly, splitting the bill or taking turns, whoever is closer to the door opening it, etc. I also find myself acting more natural when dating women, as when I am with men I find myself more aware of what I am saying and the tone I am using in an attempt to not offend or sound too aggressive/bossy.

  10. I think this topic of dating and how to approach it in our current time is very interesting. I will freely admit that I am a total diehard romantic and LOVE when a guy opens a door for me…it still leaves me a little starstruck when they offer to help me do something. Depending on who it is, it is either a really big insult or a really big compliment. For example, one of my best guy friends came to visit my house this summer and offered to pay for my meal when we were having lunch in DC. He did not assume that I could not pay for the meal, but he made it clear that it would be his honor to do so if I was okay with it. We actually ended up talking about this idea of “chivalry is dead” and how for some guys (who have the right intentions), it is frustrating that they cannot honor a woman by serving her in this way. I see both sides of the issue because I have experienced both. I love when my guy friends offer to do something for me, not because they think I am incapable, but because they want to be kind or thoughtful. However, if I know a guy is just trying to prove his masculinity or strength to impress me, I will not let this man pay for my meal or do a task that I can do for myself. I know how capable and intelligent I am, and I will not stand for any “mansplaining”, especially when I might know the topic better.

    At first glance, I can see how certain traditional and chivalrous acts are demeaning to women. I think it is the intention and the motivation behind it that matters; I never want a guy to assume what I can do but I am okay if he asks permission to pay for my meal, open the door, etc.. For many years, I refused help from my guy friends because I did not believe them to have good intentions. However, I have met some amazing guys in college and I KNOW that they are just trying to be kind. I am very adamant that I can do things by myself, but I also know that asking for help sometimes is not a bad thing.

    As for male and female leadership qualities, I think this is a socially-constructed entity in our society. We’ve talked about how at one point, pink was a man’s color because it was “bolder” and blue was for girls because it was the less intense color; now it is the complete opposite, simply because society says so. So why are certain characteristics established as “male” or “female”? I come from a long line of strong women and I can honestly say that none of them have a personality that totally matches up with a male or female’s personality. My dad’s mom was a single mom and raised him when she got divorced. She started working as one of the few women in a company that involved building computer programs. My mom’s mom was a Montessori school teacher for many years before she settled down and had five kids who she stayed at home with. I equally respect both of my grandmothers and how they lead our families, and yet neither of them is completely a “traditional” woman. For me, being a leader can look like anything the person wants it to look like. Society will always label and compartmentalize people, but a real leader can use their unique personality (whether male or female) effectively.

    This is an article I read about dating and what chivalry means now.

  11. What an appropriate topic with Valentine’s Day right around the corner! I agree that gender norms can be problematic, but they are so ingrained in our culture that it almost becomes second nature to expect that they be upheld. I think that gender norms are based on the existence of heteronormative, patriarchal power structures.The expectations placed on both men and women play into the biases and stereotypes associated with each gender (within each cultural and social constructs), and these can place really restricting binds on people who don’t adhere to them. Particularly in the dating world, there is constant debate over who should do what or pay for what outing, especially on social media. As the abstract from the article mentioned, “…how people are resisting or conforming to traditional gender norms [is] one telling aspect of dating that historically was related to the male’s displaying benevolent sexism, dominance, and ability to fulfill breadwinner role during courtship.” We are socially trained to react certain ways to men and women, and have certain expectations. For example, women should put more effort into their appearances and take care of the family/other people; men should put more time in impressing women, being in charge, and expressing control in all aspects of their lives. This also makes sense within the realm of leadership, as we have learned that people who break out of these gender roles struggle to present and express themselves without negative feedback and resistance. You are right that people need male and female characteristics to be the best leader, because both types of leadership styles can be beneficial in a variety of environments. Although there may be some biological differences, I feel that it shouldn’t mean that being an equal partner and equitable player in leadership and relationships is impossible.

  12. In consideration of the gender norms discussed in this blog post, I think it is important for me to consider the gender norms and expectations I myself hold while dating. I think in general, I often expect men to be willing to pay for the date and to engage in chivalrous acts, such as holding the door for me, buying me flowers, or escorting me to my front door. In contrast, I think I am willing to engage in those same behaviors in a dating relationship, but I don’t feel obligated to do so. In analyzing my own thoughts and feelings regarding dating expectations between genders, I think they clearly reflect the trend you stated earlier in the article: As a society, we are moving away from gender role and norm expectations, but we still use them in the dating context.

    In response to trait theory of leadership, I think it is interesting to consider typical female leadership traits in the context of dating. For example, you stated that women often express nurture and empathy while practicing leadership. Could it possibly be that the combination of women expressing empathy and care for their dating partner’s finances and society being more receptive to feminine leadership traits be causing a rise in women paying for dates more?

    In general, I believe dating relationships, as with all relationships involve power and influence, which are important dynamics in the leadership process. Elimination of gender role and norm expectations may be enabling more power and influence between both parties in a heterosexual relationship. It would be interesting to assess the different kind of power and influence each gender typically has in a dating relationship.

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