A person’s perception and construction of their gender primarily occurs through four channels:
Some families choose to raise their children following traditional gender stereotypes. They may give girls prams and dolls to play with and boys toy cars.
Other families may choose not to conform to gender norms or colour schemes and allow their children to make their own choices about toys, activities and clothing.
Families who are aware of this construct may try to avoid well-defined roles and treat children equally regardless of their sex. In many cases however, gender social construction can be sub-conscious based on family values, media perception of gender and habit.
Society expects boys not to cry, and girls to be less aggressive than males. Boys are often taught to protect girls and may be encouraged towards male team sports in the education system.
Co-workers and significant others can also have an impact in gender social construction. A woman working in an all-male environment could become more resilient in her behaviour. A woman who has a partner who expects her to be ultra-feminine would have a different gender construct to a woman whose partner expects help with DIY projects.
3) The school system
The way a school educates and integrates young people can either encourage or stifle equal development.
The school may focus on what they see as traditional opportunities such as encouraging girls towards feminine sports such as netball, or boys towards craft and hands on subjects like woodwork.
4) A person’s own sense of gender identity
A person’s internal gender construct is how they feel within.
Some may battle with gender identity feeling like a man raised in a woman’s body and vice versa.
Fitting into society as a male or a female can take some effort to break down pre-conceived norms. Is it relatively easy to break free from gender constructs in modern society?