We all know those kind of sentences: "Man up", "She's so bossy" or "Stop acting like a girl" and we are all influenced by our family, cultural background, teachers, the media or peer groups about what it means to be a girl or a boy. The typical gender stereotypes:
On profession: police officer vs. stewardess
On characteristics: aggressive vs. compassionate
On physical appearance: broad shoulders vs. long hair
Without even willingly aiming for it, we are programmed to associate certain jobs, emotions or visual attributes with being rather feminine or masculine. Boys are competitive, good at sports, the money-maker or better driver, while women tend to smile more, are caring and love to cook (exaggerated, but it shows the point). A human being is placed in a category and that's it.
So, how do gender stereotypes effect people?
By living with gender stereotypes, we not only take away the beauty of diversity, but even encourage strong negative effects on women and men: women subordinating to men, men objectifying women, women insecure in their skills, men a stronger tendency on being aggressive in order to show 'masculinity'. While we already began to open up certain occupations to all genders, we still need to increase our awareness and start to realise how these expectations actually effect each and every one of us on a daily basis.
A look into the future: Children on gender stereotypes
If you're up to see how the perspective of our younger generation towards gender stereotypes looks like, check out this video by THE CUT showing New York based children from the age of 6 to 14, as a part of their series "How to raise a boy": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTvGSstKd5Y
In the end, it's about identifying humans for who they are. When we end these gender stereotypes in our environment, we can enable men to show fear without being judged as weak and open the eyes of more women to focus on their skills rather than their looks.
Text by Bernak Kharabi