Our thinking, behavior and who we become are ultimate products of socialization. Gender socialization starts the minute we are born, from the fundamental query “is it a girl or boy?” From the minute we are born, the society moulds us to what it expects us to be. It is through socialization that every individual in the society gets to know what is improper and appropriate for both genders.
Individuals in the society learn their gender roles through socialization agencies which function as the societal “teachers”. Some of the main agencies in most, if not all societies, are the peer groups, media, family and schools. Each of these agencies has the ability to underpin gender stereotypes. Gender disparities emanate as a result of the process of socialization, particularly during adolescence and childhood.
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During an individual’s earlier development in life, family in general and parents in specific play a vital role in gender role development. In the context of gender differences, unlike other agencies of socialization, the family is characterized by a given way of living through which it establishes gender differences via a process that is not only biological, but social and relational. According to (Coltrane, 1998) t he family is the symbolic and social place where the sexual differences not only play a central role but also are created. Within the family setting, parents’ individualities are reflected by the characterization of family gender. In effect the is hence a “gender relation”. Within the family, relation with the mother or father follows hence one vital significance in determining or defining gender belonging, since it is the initial experience of relating with females and males. Gender expectations and identities towards female and male roles established within the family through children-parent relationships.
The modern environment is media bound. In magazines, radio, television, newspapers movies, and the manner of dressing, the world influences, moulds and teaches every one of us on how to carry out our gendered behaviors. The societal cultural artifacts are the avenues where cultural sexism is displayed. Television programs, advertisements, cartoons all underpin gender roles. Despite some of the changes that have taken place, mothers are always doing the roles related to housework, or juggling between responsibilities like working and homemaking. Fathers are occupied with traditional male roles. Women are always displayed as weak and dependent hence requiring male assistance (Leeder, 2002).
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