Adult Gender Socialization
Gender socialization continues as women and men complete their training or education and join the work force. Men and women re taught the “appropriate” type of conduct for persons of their sex in a particular job or occupation-both by their employers and by co-workers. However, men’s socialization usually docs not include a measure of whether their work can be successfully combined with having a family; it is often assumed that men can and will do both. Even today. however. the reason given for omen not entering some careers and professions is that this kind of work
is not suitable for women because of their assumed child-care responsibilities. Different gender socialization may occur as people reach their forties and enter “middle age:’ As discussed in Chapter 12 (“Aging And Inequality Based on Age”), a double standard of ging exists that affects women more than men. Often, men are considered to be at the height of their success as their hair turns ray and their face gains a few wrinkles. By contrast. not only do other people in society make middle-aged women feel as if they re “over the hill,” but mult million dollar advertising campaigns continually call attention to women’s every weakness. every pound gained, and every bit of flabby flesh, wrinkle, or gray hair.
A knowledge of how we develop a gender-related self-concept and learn to feel. think. and act in feminine or masculine ways is important for an understanding of ourselves. Examining gender socialization makes us aware of the impact of our parents, siblings, teachers. friends, and the media on our perspectives about gender. However. the gender socialization perspective has been criticized on several accounts. Childhood gender-role socialization may not affect people as much as some analysts have suggested. For example, the types of jobs that people take as adults may have less to do with how they were socialized in childhood than it does with how they are treated in the workplace. From this perspective, women and men will act in ways that bring the rewards and he most rewards and produce the fewest punishments (Reskin and Padavic, 2002). Also, gender socialization theories can be used to blame women for their own subordination. For example, if we assume that women’s problems can all be blamed on women themselves. existing social structures that perpetuate gender inequality will be overlooked. We will now examine a few of those structural forces