Society used gender roles to define specific roles within society for centuries. In the recent past, these roles have been called into question more and more. With all the negative factors that result from these stereotypes, we should work to eradicate gender norms in our society.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have recently published a study regarding the effects of gender norms on adolescents.
The Global Early Adolescent Study found that children tend to be exposed to gender stereotypes at home and that they are reinforced afterward from repeated exposure. Researchers collected data from 15 countries including the United States and found that the norm of boys being strong and girls being weak was present across these countries and more.
Girls’ perceived weakness and vulnerability can put them at risk for a multitude of issues in the future such as dropping out of school and exposure to sexually-transmitted diseases. Boys’ perceived strength can increase risk of violence. Both groups can suffer from depression and higher risks of suicide.
It is easy to say the United States is more developed than many of the other countries where research was conducted (such as Bolivia and South Africa), yet gender inequality and roles are still present and harmful throughout the nation.
The LGBT Resource Center at the University of Georgia provides resources for educating students and faculty about gender issues and programs for discussing these issues. Attending sessions or even educating yourself can encourage more discussions and real changes at UGA and beyond.
Ultimately, exposure to gender norms from an early age have negative effects that stem into adulthood, and curtailing these patterns can improve mental health in generations to come. Making a concerted effort early on in children’s lives can help prevent the spread of negative stereotypes that can persist for years to come.