This is a generalized and simplistic view or opinion of the specific characteristics that a person has or should have based on their sex. Also, of the role that men or women assume or should assume. These are harmful when they are used to justify discrimination and when they privilege some people and subordinate others.
Based on these stereotypes, men are considered strong, brave, independent, ambitious, and are associated with jobs in the public sphere. In contrast, women are considered fragile, dependent, friendly, caregivers, and are associated with jobs in the private sphere. Women and girls are, thus, assigned roles and tasks that limit their full development, the opportunities they can access, the strengthening of their skills, and the independence to make autonomous decisions. For example, gender stereotypes uphold the fact that girls, adolescents, and women should perform domestic tasks instead of accessing education. This means less employment opportunities and, therefore, less access to resources. Essentially, this limits their well-being and autonomy.
Various gender stereotypes are also established during childhood. For example, when insisting that boys like cars and girls like princesses. These stereotypes are transmitted by adults, caregivers, peers, and society in general. For this reason, organizations, governments, and other development agents promote non-sexist education based on equal relations and rights in order to eradicate stereotypes from an early age.
Finally, gender stereotypes are reinforced by legal frameworks, institutional practices, mass media messages, social media, and even songs and popular sayings. As a result, these distorted messages regarding the meaning of being a man or a woman prevail among people.
The UN Women Training Centre’s Glossary is an online tool that provides concepts and definitions with gender perspective structured according to the thematic areas of UN Women. It includes gender concepts, as well international conferences, agendas, initiatives, and partnerships related to gender equality. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
Photo credit: Valery Sidelnykov