Explain the connection between gender roles and discrimination.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major connection between gender roles and discrimination is that people engage in discrimination against one sex or the other based on what they expect people of that sex to like to do and to be good at.  In other words, people are likely to favor women when hiring for “women’s” jobs and to favor men for “men’s” jobs.  The definition of which job is “right” for which sex comes out of our society’s views of gender roles.

One possible instance of discrimination that can be seen today is the “glass ceiling” for women in business.  It is not clear to what degree discrimination is responsible for this, but it is likely that it at least plays some role in the existence of the glass ceiling.  We can argue that gender roles help to cause this discrimination.

In our society, women are seen as the gentler and less assertive sex.  Women are supposed to be kind rather than aggressive, for example.  This kind of view of gender roles can help to create the glass ceiling.  People who are hiring for the top positions in firms may feel that women are not capable of being as aggressive and assertive as is necessary in such jobs.  They may discriminate against women on the basis of these views of gender roles.

In this way, our ideas about gender roles can lead us to discriminate against people who are applying for jobs that do not conform to what we think is appropriate for a person of their sex.

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