Gender Differences Paper

This essay has a total of 998 words and 5 pages.

Gender Differences

Recently, women have begun to see changes in their role in society. Although girls and
women are starting to receive messages about being strong, independent women, too often
they are also still receiving messages indicating women should be fragile and domestic. In
an article titled "Leader stereotypes match men more than women," Catherine Kleiman quotes
Alice Eagly, a psychology professor at Northwestern University who says that "it's bound
to be challenging for women because there's a built-in role conflict" (1998). The
contradicting ideas are conveyed in the media as well as in early childhood.

Women's new role in society is focused on independence. Society has found that women are
able to thrive without set limitations and expectations despite earlier notions. The media
no longer focuses primarily on superficial aspects of women but also on a more profound
basis. In Ever After, a modern version of Cinderella, Danielle is respected not only for
her beauty but also for her intelligence and distinct personality. She shares her
knowledge of democracy, education, and equality with Henry, the prince. Danielle's actions
represent the new forms of empowerment modern women strive for. Women are now encouraged
to educate themselves beyond the domestic elements. Advertisements share this idea of a
"new woman." Hamburger Helper ads typically present working women who are also able to
make dinner for the family. In "Beauty and the Beast of Advertising," Jean Kilbourne
recognizes that it is somewhat common to see a "liberated woman" with "independence and
self esteem"(2000, p. 239). Similar ideas of independence are portrayed in the business
world. New positions are shaped for strong-willed women who are able to take on more
responsibility. These new roles for women are continuing to gain acceptance.

Despite the modern views of women, the traditional concepts of what it means to be a woman
are still being taught in the early stages of development. Parents encourage outdated
roles in the way little girls are dressed, the toys they play with, and the books that are
read to them. The overall attitude of the parents is projected onto the child, as well. As
pointed out in "X: A Fabulous Child's Story" by Lois Gould, girls are treated a distinct
way. Usually cuddled and kissed, girls are treated as if they are dainty and almost
breakable. When a young girl is commented on, the comments usually describe the girl as
cute (1978, p. 383). As children, girls are typically offered girl toys, which usually
have to do with a domestic behavior such as baking or cleaning. For example it is common
for a young girl to have an Easy Bake Oven. Once girls are old enough to attend school,
the outdated ideas of women are taught in the institution. Girls are often separated from
boys in order to complete the "girls' skills" such as baking or painting flowers (Gould,
2000, p. 386). As a girl grows up, she is inspired by the actions of those around her, her
parents and teachers especially. If a girl's mother demonstrates the traditional role,
more than likely the girl will proceed in the same traditional manner. The archaic ideals
of conforming women are clinging to the minds of young girls.

As young girls develop into young women they are bombarded by stereotypes on television
primarily in advertising. Jean Kilbourne states in "Beauty and the Beast of Advertising"
that "women are shown almost exclusively as housewives or sex objects" (2000, p. 238). It
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