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Gender Socialization in American Social Institutions Essay

Socialization refers to how people learn different cultures and learn to live with the various aspects of the cultures. For an individual, socialization provides an opportunity to gain various habits and skills that are necessary for participating and acting at various levels within the society. For the wider society, socialization enables different people to exchange moral norms, values, attitudes, social roles, languages, motives and so forth, thereby attaining a form of social and cultural stability (Sapiro, 1990).

Socialization is affected by many factors, which have contributed to factors such as social stratification with particular with reference to gender among various societies. Many social theories have suggested that gender is a core cause of social stratification in the American Society (Stone, 2001; Andersen & Taylor, 2005; Levinson, Cookson & Sadovnik, 2002; Giddens & Griffiths, 2006). Social stratification with respect to gender has been noted in many areas such as place of worship, schools, workplaces, and many other areas that involve social interactions.

According to Andersen and Taylor (2005), the various methods used in interaction in different institutions lead to stratification since males usually tend to dominate the social scene, thus creating a situation whereby females have to play a second role in socialization. This paper will evaluate the methods of socialization used by people in different American educational institutions with particular reference to the role of gender in the social scene.

The format of the paper will involve a brief discussion of the various aspects of socialization in the American context followed by a discussion of the methods of gender socialization in American social educational institutions. Gender socialization among Americans According to Stone (2001), the American society places a lot of importance in the role of the family as the basic social unit of the society. In fact, the evidence for this is shown by the abundance in most libraries of published materials regarding marriage and family life in the United States.

The interest in family life is instigated by the fact that there are various instances of gender interaction such as those involving children; between children and their parents; between parents; and between parents and their in-laws (Stone, 2001). An obvious gender interaction that is usually less mentioned is that between any parent and mother-in–law or father-in-law of the opposite sex. The aspect of mother in law in particular has been a problem to many couples in the American society.

In this context, Stone (2001) quotes Eppie Lederer who commented on the persistent problem associated with mothers-in-law by asking the question “Must we outlaw the mother in law? ” The products of family life, that is children, also socialise differently depending on where they are. Andersen and Taylor (2005) note that gender socialization among children is impacted upon by peers, parents, the media, schools, religious institutions and forth. It is at the child level that various paths of gender socialization are charted.

For instance, in schools girls usually get involved in communal games and like getting into groups whereas boys tend to put interest in games that are individualistic (Andersen & Taylor, 2005). The same authors also note that girls play more freely when they are involved in same sex groups. On the other hand, boys tend to wield power over girls when they play with them and have a tendency to create laws of play over girls. This is perhaps what leads to men’s dominance in scenes in later life (Andersen & Taylor, 2005; Stone, 2001).

Methods of gender socialization in American educational and religious institutions As is the case in all societies, socialization occurs at all stages of life, not just in childhood stages. The attributes displayed by children in their early days such as gender-typed forms of games are indicator of behavior that appear later during adult life. The aspects of competitive play displayed by boys prepare them for the kind socialization environment they encounter as adults.

Giddens and Griffiths (2006) note that boys engage in more aggressive socialization activities because in future they get active in activities such as sports; and the large groups they socialize with also teach them to cooperate and compete when working together later in life. Among girls, there is a slightly different approach to socialization. Andersen and Taylor (2005) note that learn in the same way as girls but they don’t tend to value the attributes such as highly as boys or men even though these attributes are no less important to them.

Thus, gender socialization in various American educational institutions is based on these attributes as discussed in the following sections. Gender socialization in schools Schools in have a distinct influence on gender socialization because of the considerable amount to time children spend them (Cookson, 1990). Teachers of either sex have different expectations for boys and girls. According to research findings, boys in American schools call out answers about eight times more than girls (Andersen & Taylor, 2005). This makes boys get more attention from their teachers than girls.

This point is emphasized by the fact that when teachers of either sex respond to the boys they increase the boys’ level of perceived importance. Another level of socialization in schools is the kind of books used in class. The kind of messages depicted in the books usually determine the kind of socialization that children have later in life or among themselves (Levinson, Cookson & Sadovnik, 2002). If a person of a certain gender is used as a central figure and is portrayed to be powerful or a genius, a mentality is developed among children that people of that gender are powerful in all dimensions.

Most of the characters depicted as such are men. Gender socialization and religion Religion is one of the aspects of gender socialization that is often overlooked in the American society. Different religious groups lay emphasis on different aspects of their culture such as gender differences. For instance, most Judeo-Christian religions found in the United States put much emphasis on gender, with a common perspective that men are superior to women. In religions that embrace Orthodox Judaism, men offer prayer to God thanking him for not having made a slave of woman for them.

In addition, many other religions in the United States exclude women from leadership in religious functions to signify that women hold a lower position in the society (Levinson, Cookson & Sadovnik, 2002). Aside from the religions that belittle gender, socialization in Christian and Muslim faiths encourages some form of gender equity (Cookson, 1990). Thus in both churches and mosques, women constantly use what they learn based on their faiths to question racist practices and other forms of unfair treatment by men.

Along this line, protestant and evangelical churches in the United States campaign for shared household roles and equal job opportunities as part of socialization between men and women (Stone, 2001). Gender socialization and the media Different forms of media such as magazines, film, television, music and many others have a lot of influence on the kind of socialization in the United States. Communication through the various forms of media is facilitated through features such as cartoons, narrations, messages in music and so forth.

Men and women play different roles in the media industry and this determines show they socialize at various levels. But a common tendency is that men are usually portrayed as more powerful figure in various media by their dominance in films, sports, and many other activities. This has changed how people view various forms of media and stratified the society (particularly learning institutions) in terms of popularity of some programs. Television in the United States has been criticized for portraying unrealistic images of women and men with respect to their appearance and age (Stone, 2001).

There is a common opinion that women are usually portrayed provocatively on television in dresses such as underwear, nightwear, swimsuits and so forth. Media images in social scenes such as social halls, school halls, colleges and other institutions in the United States and so on are criticized for depicting white men as exercising higher authority than white women as well as black men and black women. Many advertisements in social settings also have the same tendency of depicting the male gender as being superior to the female gender (Stone, 2001).

Gender socialization and employment in educational institutions Workplaces as schools are characterized by people of either gender playing different roles. The American system of job classification us characterized by hierarchical organizations which put men and women in different job capacities. For instance, most principals in schools and superintendents of colleges are men (Andersen & Taylor, 2005). This therefore creates an ill-advised notion that leaders in social institutions are always men. Conclusion

It is evident that various from of gender socialization in educational institutions such as schools, colleges, churches, social halls and so forth in the United States is greatly influenced by the kind of socialization that takes place in elementary levels of education such as junior schools. In addition, the kind of behavior that boys and girls are exposed to is carried into adult life. This is shown in many organizations that disseminate knowledge such as colleges, most of which portray men as being superior to women. References Andersen, M. L. and Taylor H. F. (2005).

Sociology: understanding a diverse society. New York: Cengage Learning. Cookson, L. Gender equity, social institutions and the future of fertility. Journal of Population Research, 17(1):1-14 Giddens, A & Griffiths, S. (2006). Sociology. New York: Polity Levinson, D. ; Cookson, P. W. & Sadovnik , A. R. (2002). Education and sociology: an encyclopedia. New York: Taylor & Francis. Sapiro, V. (1990) Women in American society: an introduction to women’s studies. New York: Mayfield Pub. Co. Stone, L. (2001). New directions in anthropological kinship. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.


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