Authored by Robert Cooper

Gender Role Development

There are different socio-cultural factors that influence gender role development. To start with, the prevailing social roles of men and women have a substantial impact on gender role development. This impact is clearly reflected in the gender stereotypes of occupations. In this regard, boys rate men’s proficiency at masculine occupations on a higher ranking than they do on women in their occupations. From an early age of three years, children can associate pilots and auto mechanics as men’s jobs while secretaries and clothes designer with women’s jobs. Children adopt this stereotype from their environment, where most of the pilots and mechanics they come across are men. They also note that a majority of secretaries are women. Children, therefore, begin to fit into the stereotype of occupations as they develop their gender roles.

Secondly, according to the cognitive developmental theory, children from the age of six develop consciousness of gender and begin to distinguish themselves as either male or female. At this point in life, children realize that they will always be male or female (Santrock, 2009). This realization causes children to organize their world on the basis of their gender. Boys begin to gravitate towards fellow boys as playmates and select male role models while girls move towards fellow girls and female role models. From this point, children begin to take on different roles depending on their gender.

Thirdly, there is always a socio-cultural emphasis on gender-based standards in most societies. This emphasis is, however, more pronounced in the less developed world than in the developed economies. Children, therefore, develop an internal motivation to abide by these standards and stereotypes. Essentially, the development of gender roles is firmly rooted in different socio-cultural factors.

The article was prepared by Robert Cooper, a researcher at

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