Outline the social factors that may influence gender roles

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  1. Outline the social factors that may influence gender roles

Parents may influence gender roles. This can be explained using operant conditioning- i.e. Parents would praise gender appropriate behaviour and punish gender inappropriate behaviour. For example, if a boy wanted to do ballet, his parents may ignore or shout at him for wanting to do ballet (punishment) and this could then discourage the child from doing ballet because he may think that he would get punished even more if he carried on doing it. Instead, the child may decide to do a more gender appropriate activity that his parents would approve of, such as playing football, in order to get rewarded by his parents. Parents may also influence gender roles as they may serve as role models. A child may observe what their parents are doing, then try to imitate them, and then that behaviour would be reinforced.
Peers could also influence gender roles. They could offer a model of how boys and girls should act. Boys may act in a boyish way, such as fighting and being aggressive, and girls may act in a feminine way, such as being calm and playing with dolls. So, for example, if a child was a girl, they would focus on what other girls are doing and then copy them in order to be liked by other girls, and then may lead them to avoiding doing anything that other boys are likely to do.
The media, particularly the television, could also influence gender roles. On the children’s programmes, boys are often portrayed as being aggressive and very heroic, whilst it seems that girls are often seen as house maids and cleaners etc... So, for example, if a boy was watching such programmes, he may pay attention and imitate what the boys in the programmes are doing, and this could then mean that the child would likely to only show those behaviours and he may ignore and avoid showing other behaviours that girls are more likely to show.
Education, to an extent, could also influence gender roles. Schools often offer a gendered curriculum. For example, usually girls are likely to do subjects such as Food technology and textiles, whilst the boys are likely to do sports. This may then divide the two sexes up- boys are likely to do what other boys do and behave in a way that other boys behave, and girls are likely to follow other girls and behave in a way that other girls behave.

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  1. Use research evidence to assess the influence of such factors on gender roles.

The idea that parents can influence gender roles could be explained by the research that was carried out by Lytton and Romney in 1991. It supports the idea that the parents reinforce gender appropriate behaviours. For example, Lytton and Romney found that in North American studies, girls were more likely to be encouraged to help with housework and boys with outdoor tasks. This shows that boys are encouraged by their parents to act in a way that they think other boys would act and girls ...

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