Gender roles are societal roles that represent a range of behaviors and attitudes that are considered acceptable and desirable for a person based on their gender. The role of women specifically has changed drastically from the 20th century. Women were expected to stay at home and raise their kids without access to education. Their role was to make sure that they were obedient wives and mothers without any identity of their own. Fortunately, we as a society have changed our views of women’s roles in society.
Today, women’s roles are no different from those of men. They are expected to work in any industry while having a co-parenting relationship with their spouse. In the past, father figures were not too involved in raising the children - it was primarily the responsibility of the mother to do so. Now, children can feel that they have a strong bond with both parents equally. And while this is prominent in the U.S., Asian societies are not quite there yet. Many wives are expected to stay at home and take care of the children and household. In the workforce, most of the women are in their 20’s and early 30’s where they work before getting married. Another path that some women take is not getting married and devoting their lives to their careers. It’s uncommon to see a woman in a high position who is also a wife and mother. And even if they are, they face a lot of backlash from their coworkers. They may feel that she should be at home raising their kids rather than working. It’s unfortunate that societal standards and expectations dictate how women should act, especially in Asian societies.
Because I am a second generation Korean American, I like to analyze the parallels of women’s roles in both U.S. and Asian culture. I enjoy listening to my parents talk about their experiences in Korea as well as learning about societal expectations, especially for women. My father always mentions how women should act and how he disapproves of the new trend that women in Korea are not getting married. I don’t blame my father for thinking the way he does because that’s the way he grew up. It’s interesting to learn about the differences between individualistic and collective cultures. I’m glad to know that Korea is becoming more individualistic where women are focusing more on their independence and happiness.
It’s important that we as a society teach the younger generation about healthy societal expectations. Young girls need to understand that they are their own person and that they have their own voice. They should not have to feel pressured or limited in any of their opportunities to grow as women. Fortunately, our society is progressing in the right direction. Soon, there will be no need to differentiate between men and women’s roles because we know that gender is no longer binary. There is a wide range of genders that people identify with because gender is a social construct. We can no longer say what women’s roles should be because there are no differences between genders in terms of skills and intelligence. All genders should be treated equally and should have the same expectations as human beings.
Blossfeld, H. & Kieman, K. (2019). The New Role Of Women: Family Formation In Modern Societies. New York, NY: Routledge.