Using the Internet and the Online Library, review a variety of media characters, analyzing how male and female characters are portrayed. Media can be videos, cartoons, comic books, movies, etc. What are some common themes and characteristics in these portrayals? What messages do these send to young children about gender roles? Critically evaluate the scientific evidence for gender differences in a variety of areas such as social roles, cognitive abilities, education, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
In addition, address the following:
Compile your responses in a 2- to 3-page Microsoft Word document. Cite all sources using APA format.
Social expectations for male and female gender norms have been prevalent in varying degrees over the course of history. Adult women have historically struggled with their desire to enter the workforce, as society has believed that home should be their focus. Conversely, adult males have historically battled balancing a desire to participate in family activities while trying to provide financial support. These norms have historically guided young people in conceptualizing their future roles and responsibilities as adults.
As we matured as a society, various events impacted and altered our views of traditional gender norms over time. For example, when the military draft occurred during World War II and most able-bodied US men traveled overseas to fight in the war, women went to work to fill in the jobs left behind. Job positions that had always been filled by men, such as welders, automobile mechanics, and factory workers, were filled by women during this time. As a result, traditional gender norms associated with men and women were challenged. Men were no longer considered sole breadwinners, and women were no longer viewed as homemakers unable to perform the physical labor tasks of men.
The impact of history on traditional gender norms can be seen clearly when considering the drastic changes that have occurred over time in the norms. It is fascinating to reflect upon different gender norms that were prevalent in your grandparents' generation in comparison to present-day norms
As we have seen, social influences include a multitude of factors, such as family members, peers, teachers, the popular media, and culture. Think about your gender. What social factors have influenced you? Which influence was the strongest? Which elements have had little impact on your development?
At an early age, children learn what it means to be a boy or a girl in our society. Through many activities and various forms of modeling, children experience gender role socialization. Children have been found to internalize parental messages regarding gender at an early age, with awareness of differences being found in children as young as two. Children at two-and-a-half years of age have been observed using gender stereotypes to negotiate their world, acting in roles they associate with their gender. Sociocultural influences continue as children experience school. Teachers, the media, and peers reinforce beliefs of what male and female should look like in our society.
Many parents are not aware that their behaviors contribute to children's gender role socialization. But think about it, do we treat our daughters differently from our sons?
A gender stereotype consists of beliefs about the psychological traits and characteristics of a male and a female. Gender roles are defined by behaviors, but gender stereotypes are defined by beliefs and attitudes. When people gender stereotype, they may overlook individual variations and exceptions and come to believe that the behavior is inevitably associated with one gender but not the other. Therefore, gender roles furnish the material for gender stereotypes.
Gender schema theory suggests that children develop naive mental schemas that help them organize their experiences in such a way that they will know what to attend to and how to interpret new information. According to this theory, we should expect individual differences in how gender-schematic children will be.
Think of ways we promote social forces that influence the development of gender orientation from the very beginning of life. Can we put a pink shirt on a baby boy? What color do you paint a child's room? How do cartoons and movies influence stereotypes?
Qualitative researchers aim to include contextual elements that highlight the phenomena they are studying, rather than just relying on numbers. They use several methods, including interviews, focus groups, case studies, and ethnography. Interviews seek to understand individual participant's experiences through examination of themes. Focus groups are used to examine the experiences of those in the group, as well as observing the reactions and interactions of group members related to a topic.
Case studies are typically used to study an individual from a specific population as a representative of that population, or an individual who is unique and does not fit into expected categories. Ethnography is used to study context of a phenomenon through the researcher immersing his or herself into the environment being studied in order to directly experience the context alongside other participants.
Qualitative research can help us to understand the whys that go with the whats and hows. For example, where quantitative research can tell us that most parents expect male children to behave in a masculine way, qualitative research can help us identify the underlying themes as to why parents tend to do this.
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