Gender Stereotypes: Definition, Examples & Quiz

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.

Definition

A man can say 'women aren't meant for combat,' while on the other hand a woman can 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, as in women or men. 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 also have positive connotations, even though they're often over-generalized. For instance, the notion that women are better caregivers than men. This is not necessarily true in all cases, as some women may lose custody of children in court cases where neglect is proven. This is similarly so for the notion that men are better providers than women, particularly in cases where men have abandoned their families and back-owe on child support ('deadbeat dads').

Sociological Perspectives

A 2-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 get the toddler back home or where she belongs, but drives on. 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 impact that stereotypes, even perceived ones, have on someone based on his or her gender. The following sociological perspectives are highlights of the varying interpretations of such stereotypes.

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