Sample Essay on Gender Roles in the 19th and 21st Centuries

Gender roles in the 19th and 21st centuries

Gender issues have been covered in education for centuries since the struggle for gender equality has also been in existence for a long period. Gender roles are defined as the attitudes, behavior and values that the community deems as appropriate for different genders. Women and men have been given different roles by the society and the perception of these genders has been passed down from generation to generation. In the 19th century women were deemed as a lower gender compared to men. They were given roles and responsibilities which were mainly supportive in nature. Men on the other hand were expected to be the leaders and bread winners in their families. Gender roles have changed over the past few years because of education and globalization.

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Cognitive development theory stipulates that individuals learn behavior based on their environment. Children learn and adapt to the behavior of their parents (In Brainerd, 1983). The society teaches men and women how to act and what is expected of them from a young age. Girls in the past were nurtured to be home makers and take on jobs which do not put them above men. Parents would buy their girl children dolls to play with and miniature houses to clean and arrange. Boys on the other hand would be bought cars and toy guns to play with and help them understand that they are supposed to take on the hard chores. In addition, in the 19th century not many women held jobs and even those that held jobs they were lowly paid (Wayne, 2007). Women were expected to get married, give birth to children and take care of their husbands.

However, times have changed and women are now able to take up jobs and positions that were previously preserved for men. The advancement of education has made it possible for women to acquire college degrees and pursue careers of their choice. Careers such as those in medicine and physics among others which were previously held only by men now administer women. In addition, the pay gap between the men and women holding the same position has closed (Rostami-Poven & Povey, 2012). Many more women are in leadership positions in their organizations and this indicates that there is a shift in not only gender roles but also the way that society perceives both men and women.

Gender roles have also changed at homes since there are some men who opt to take care of the children and home while the woman is the bread winner. The changing trends in gender roles can be attributed to globalization. Due to globalization individuals can interact and share ideas on not only gender roles but also other issues that affect the community (Rostami-Povey & Povey, 2012). Therefore, based on the changing gender roles it is possible that in future there will be fluidity in gender roles.

Gender roles are the attitudes, behavior and values that the community expects of given genders. In the 19th century women were expected to be home makers. They would look after their families and take care of the home. Men on the other hand were supposed to be the bread winners and they would take leadership positions in organizations. However, in the 21st century gender roles are changing with many more women being employed and holding leadership positions. Some men on the other hand have taken on the responsibility of taking care of the family from home.


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Wayne, T. K. (2007). Women’s roles in nineteenth-century America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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Rostami-Povey, E., & Povey, T. (2012). Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century Iran. Ashgate Publishing Group. Top of Form

In Brainerd, C. J. (1983). Recent Advances in Cognitive-Developmental Theory: Progress in Cognitive Development Research. New York, NY: Springer New York.

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