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Gender Stereotypes: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Are Gender Stereotypes?
  • 1:07 Impact of Gender Stereotypes
  • 1:56 Sociological…
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ross Davis
Gender stereotypes are over-generalizations about the characteristics of an entire group based on gender. While gender stereotypes have been popularly perceived as having negative connotations, they can also have positive ones as well.

What Are Gender Stereotypes?

A man might say women aren't meant for combat, while a woman might say men do nothing but watch sports. Such expressions represent gender stereotypes, which are over-generalizations about the characteristics of an entire group based on gender. While women were barred from serving in military combat in Western nations until the latter half of the 20th century, in recent times they have served in combat roles as capably as men. And while many men may watch sports, not all men would necessarily do so.

Gender stereotypes can have negative connotations, like those above, but they can also have positive connotations, even though they're often over-generalized. For instance, the notion that women are better caregivers than men is a positive connotation, but it is a generalization and not necessarily true in all cases. This is similarly so for the notion that men are better providers than women, which while positive, can be disproved by looking at cases where men have abandoned their families and defaulted on child support.

Impact of Gender Stereotypes

The impact of gender stereotypes on people and society can vary. Consider this scenario:

A two-year-old girl wanders away from her playgroup and becomes lost outside. A man happens to drive by her. He thinks about going back to help the toddler get back home or wherever it is she belongs, but he drives on instead. Later on it turns out that the girl drowned in a garden pond. An investigation ensues, and the man who drove by the girl told authorities that the reason he had not stopped or gone back to assist her was because he did not want anyone to mistakenly think that he was a pedophile trying to abduct her.

The above true story illustrates the negative impact that stereotypes, even perceived ones, can have. The significance of stereotypes to each individual can depend on the way they look at stereotypes.

Sociological Perspectives & Stereotypes

Sociologists explain the different viewpoints on gender stereotypes by looking at sociological perspectives. Here are three perspectives and how they view these stereotypes:

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