Culture Creates Gender: People Learn It
Physical characteristics between men and women have been used to create a clear
difference between men and women. Women have historically been taken as different as unequal
with men. Given this fact, gender roles have been granted based on the physical characteristics of
either men or women 1 . To this end, women are given gender roles that society has associated
with feminism, while men have been taught to assume masculine roles. In many cases, however,
most gender roles that have been associated with women have discriminated against them both
socially and economically. As a result, women have been discriminated against by gender and
other factors in society, all of which are created by culture. Therefore, women are victims of
gender roles and intersectionality, both of which construct culture.
Gender Roles and Ideology
The culture and community socially and historically constructed gender roles that a
person comes from. Therefore, gender is a set of social and cultural expectations which leads a
person to learn, assume and perform certain tasks less consciously 2 . Gender roles affect every
person in a certain way, either a positive and negative way. Still, women are the most affected in
many societies as they assume domestic duties that are not associated with making money or are
paid the least wages among all categories of jobs. Gender roles are backed by various religious
believes, such as Christianity. In the Christian system of beliefs, a woman should take care of her
husband and the family, while the husband is supposed to love and cherish their wives. In this
case, women take domestic roles to feed and take care of their families, while men need to work
1 Carla Freeman, "Designing Women: Corporate Discipline and Barbados's Off-Shore Pink-
Collar Sector," Cultural Anthropology 8, no. 2 (1993): 4, doi:10.1525/can.1993.8.2.02a00030.
2 Sherry B. Ortner, "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" Feminist Studies 1, no. 2
(1972): 4, doi:10.2307/3177638. Sherry B. Ortner, "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to
Culture?" Feminist Studies 1, no. 2 (1972): xx, doi:10.2307/3177638.
to provide for their families. Women, therefore, turn into caregivers while men turn into
providers. In conservative societies such as the Catholics in Mexico, these roles are well
established, that trying to make some changes in them is perceived a taboo. Therefore, people
stick to their gender role to maintain respect in society and get God's blessings.
Preparing women for the role of womanhood denies women opportunities that are readily
available to men. To some society, the greatest role that a woman can play in society is to be a
wife and reproduce. To these communities, reproduction is seen as important in the community
as it is the one that leads to the continuation of the community and its culture 3 . Therefore, women
are mainly trained on becoming wives taking care of their husbands and children, and
reproducing. These roles do not need education, and thus girls are denied formal education. Even
when they get educated, many of them just get basic education, which does not equip them with
some employable skills that would allow them to get better jobs. As a result of these
discriminatory cultural circumstances, women in places such as Barbados find it hard to find
well-paying jobs despite foreign direct investment in the area 4 . These international companies
believe in gender equality and wish to employ both men and women but face a major challenge.
Women are uneducated and do not have the skills required for high paying jobs. As a result,
these companies create pink color jobs to fit for unskilled women. To many men, these low wage
jobs have an annoying routine which is not fit for them. However, this is a golden opportunity
for the women to work beyond unpaid domestic work, which makes them happy 5 . These women
do not have much choice due to limited opportunities in the local market. Pink color jobs are the
only way that they can earn a living.
3 Kath Weston, "Do Clothes Make the Woman? Performing in and Out of Industrial
Time," Gender in Real-Time, 2018, xx, doi:10.4324/9781315865676-3.
4 Freeman, " Designing Women," 6.
5 , Freeman, " Designing Women," 5.
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Stereotypes that have been used historically to explain gender roles have also been
backed by science. Society is growing and changing daily, and people are leaning towards
science for evidence and explanations of various aspects of life. Males have been taken to be
generally good in mathematics and science. This has brought a mentality that women are not
good in these technical courses, and this has made many women grow thinking that they can
only perform in other courses and not the ones that have been associated with males. In this line,
even though science is meant to create solutions for society, but in this case, it has continued
with the same trend of gendered roles that the previous society held. Science has based its
argument that women are emotional, which makes them weak in science, grounded on pure facts.
This allegation is only true in certain conditions, and thus discriminating against all women
would be wrong 6 . According to research studies, when women are presented with threat
conditions, their mathematic and scientific tests' performance remains retrained. In contrast, in
tests where women were involved in tests with non-threat conditions, they performed better than
all groups, including men. The difference between the two tests is the thereat conditions where
women were given a simpler test in the first test than men. Thus their performance was
restrained to these standards, while in the second test, all people were assured that the test was
equally hard for all women who worked hard like everyone else. The culture of stereotyping
gender roles seems to take shape in science. With the roles that science plays in society, this
mentality could go a long way in setting new standards for gender roles in the future society.
Gender is among the forms of discrimination that many women face in their lives in a
globalized society. Women not only face challenges base on their genders but also due to their
6 , Freeman, " Designing Women," 19.
culturally constructed limitations. For women who migrate to western countries are
discriminated against due to their race and gender, among other factors. for example, for
Mexican migrants who move into the US, in their homes, they acquire feminine roles as mothers
and wives and submit to their husbands 7 . When they are in society, they are discriminated against
according to their race and denied equal access to jobs. Many white women in the west have
found some freedom in a society where they have been given some equality level. The white
women in western countries have moved into formal employment and thus leaving domesticated
jobs open. Homes have to be taken care of, and this calls for new domestic labor. For the less
skilled migrant women who do not have much of an option, they occupy the jobs that have been
left blank by their fellow women who are white and have a better opportunity. Even though
working in these jobs is an upgrade from working in their homes for free, it still lands them in
gendered roles 8 . This is evident as other migrant-men do not work in domestic jobs as they work
in manual blue color jobs, which are considered more masculine. Nevertheless, even though
these domestic jobs give them some financial freedom that is not available in their cultures, it
does give it in a gendered and the pay is not as good as that of the men who work in manual jobs 9
. Besides, these women work in other people’s homes and still work in their homes, making them
perform gendered responsibilities. This position that migrant women find themselves in is
creating the society back at home and in the west. Many cultures have associated manual work
with men, while household chores are associated with women.
7 Maid in America, directed by Prado Anayansi. (2005; Impacto Films, 2005), Film.
8 Maid in America
9 Freeman, " Designing Women," 10.
In a nutshell, gender is a key concept in the study of anthropology. In anthropology, sex
and gender are defined differently. Sex means the perceived physical differences, while gender
entails all cultural constructions that are learned, assumed, and performed in various societies.
Despite the differences between the two, sex has been used to assign gender roles in society.
Thus, some roles have been taken to be feminine or masculine, depending on the community's
culture. To this end, women have generally been assigned feminine roles that are either unpaid or
have low wages than men's jobs. For a long time, this has denied women financial freedom, and
thus they are made to depend on men for their providence. From a young age, girls are taught to
assume roles that are associated with womanhood. These roles are culturally constructed to make
a woman into nurturers, and wherever they go, these roles follow them. Despite being
discriminated against in gender roles, women are also discriminated against on other grounds,
which are also cultural constructions leading to intersectionality. Therefore, all effects that
gender has on women are created by culture and not their nature.
Freeman, Carla. "Designing Women: Corporate Discipline and Barbados's Off-Shore Pink-
Collar Sector." Cultural Anthropology 8, no. 2 (1993), 169-186.
Maid in America. Directed by Prado Anayansi. 2005. Impacto Films, 2005. Film.
Ortner, Sherry B. "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" Feminist Studies 1, no. 2 (1972),
Weston, Kath. "Do Clothes Make the Woman?: Performing In and Out of Industrial
Time." Gender in Real-Time, 2018, 56-89. doi:10.4324/9781315865676-3.