Gender roles

An adaptation from the article written for CAREducation Trust’s WOW Campaign

Are you Bossy or the Boss?

Looking at gender roles, how we have tried to change them, how we have attempted to equalise them. Are we able to change society perceptions, judgements and norms?


What are your first reactions after watching this advert? Here is a discussion between two members of our team, can you guess if they are men or women or one of each?

Seeing these labels and stereotypes does not surprise me. I am not a sexist person nor am I discriminatory, however we are programmed by society and years of evolution. Traditionally a woman’s role and nature has been mothering, soft and caring. So now when there are women that do not fit that mould, men and women both almost defensively label them and see them in a negative light. I am not saying this is the right reaction, however it is human nature. I recently read about a study, the same CV was sent to recruiters twice, once with a male name and once with a female name. The results showed a strong male bias.

Seeing this video accentuates the way society reacts, the way we see men and women so differently. They can do the same things, strive for the same goals and yet be received so differently. We happily accept fathers to be strong and stable, and mothers as emotional and nurturing. Through centuries of struggling to uphold both of these stereotypical images, when one tries to do what “belongs” to the other, they are faced with ridicule. Will this ever change?

What is it like in women only firms or organisations? You get variation in men and women, there are those that are hardcore, less caring, more headstrong, and there are those that are more easy going and compromising. I think to make it up the ladder a woman has to be more hardcore, than a man, but by doing so they are perceived as less likable and hence receive more negativity.

What if there was a similar advert but showing a softer side, would a man be described as a pansy, or weak? Is he whipped, or not lad enough? And if these qualities were on a woman would they be sweet and considerate?

Women face labels when being strong; men face ridicule if they exhibit emotion. Labels are currently concrete in the world we live in. I think the woman feel they need to be more hardcore and ruthless to get their feminine voice heard. True equality could eliminate all this. Make both women and men work equally hard to get to the same position. Both sexes are victim to stereotypes and neither is acceptable. We would be ignorant to think women can do everything men can, or that men can do everything women can. We are biologically and physically different. It is about not discriminating because of these differences, but accepting them. For this change, we all have to change.  

There seems to be some consistency in both commentators and some differences, what is the right answer? Is it something that must change, or is is something that is deep within or evolutionary psychology.

By Nirav Shah & Dilisha Patel

@nirav999 @dilishabp