Integrated alternative gender roles in society can be difficult. While virtually all human societies have ideas regarding the male and the female, there is a growing need to accept alternative gender options and roles. The differences between the two genders can be apparent, but for some, breaking gender roles can be difficult. This economic paper explores the role men and women play in economic environments.
Each gender plays a specific part in economies
Alternative gender roles play a unique role in many different cultures. As each and every individual has a particular set of characteristics, these characteristics differentiate us from one another. Men have, by and large, been accepted as the individuals that gather, hunt, and work, where women have been relegated to being the nurturers and the ones that take care of the family. The roles of men and women have often been switched in various societies (for example, women in America during WWII), and, because of this switching, the dynamic of the degree of separation between the two genders has widened. While some cultures have been able to maintain the traditional separation between the roles men and women, others have not given way to a fascinating dynamic between the genders worldwide. Three cultures that have been affected by the gender role switching are Asian, European and Middle Eastern societies.
How does gender impact economies?
Just as there are varieties in fruit strains, there is variety amongst people. Essentially, all life comes down to the genetic code. Among all people are some common natural characteristics. These characteristics are; the sun as the primary source of energy, oxygen use for respiration and the consumption of foods and liquids for daily nourishment. With the unifying similarities come disparities that make every human being different than every other. These characteristics include skin color, height, and weight, among other factors. With different characteristics, each person develops a skill or set of skills that match him or her. Because each person has their specific skills sets based on their characteristics, roles and specialization develop from these differences. The greatest division amongst people, even greater than that of race and ethnicity, has been that of gender. Across many cultures, the roles between men and women have been clearly separated, but the degree of separation is what differs. This paper examines alternative gender roles among three different cultures. Some cultures have fully integrated the male and female roles in society into one, whereas some have chosen to remain traditional. A brief review of human history will show why separation came to be in the first place.
Before the age of agriculture, manipulating the ground to produce crops, there existed an age of hunting and gathering. Hunting and gathering were a rigorous lifestyle close to nature that involved hunting animals and gathering resources essential for survival. The male and female bodies differ in various physical aspects, such as metabolism rates, muscle density and reproductive features (Wolchover, 2013). The given characteristics result in the given circumstances in which the male and female and society as a whole have to allocate their resources efficiently. The female naturally bears the child, and she typically nurtures it until it reaches an age of maturity. While the mother nurtures the child, the father goes out and gathers resources to provide
Women are stereotyped as caregivers. The female naturally bears the child, and she typically nurtures it until it reaches an age of maturity. While the mother nurtures the child, the father goes out and gathers resources to provide of his family and himself. To answer why it fits like this, one must ask what would happen if those roles were reversed. Imagine if the mother bore the child, left it for the father to care for and left to collect resources. Well, the male cannot breastfeed, so the mother will have to be at home to perform that function during the day while taking on the role of the male aggressively hunting for resources. By switching the roles, what results is an inefficient, misallocation of resources. The indisputable fact that the female is the child bearer, which includes birthing to nurturing, encourages the natural division of labor between male and female.
From the naturally existing division between males and females, divisions in societies can easily be noted, but to different extents, for example, gender inequality in the workplace. The natural order of life strongly encourages a certain order of roles amongst people. Over the course of time, the development of the standard of living of the people in a society resulted in differences between the male/female role disparities. This variance in the level of male and female roles disparities is observed for the purposes of this study are the Middle Eastern societies, the Asian societies, and the European societies. The living standards in these countries compared with the roles of men and women in these societies are predicted to show a correlation. This correlation is expected to show that the greater the standard of living in the country, the more integrated the roles between their male and female counterparts will be. The lower the standard of living in the country, the greater separation between typical male and female roles in society.
Standard of living
The gross domestic productivity (GDP) per capita and it is regarded as a fair indicator of the standard of living in each country. In terms of GDP, the Middle East ranks the lowest, followed by Asian countries and topped by the European Union (Mankiw, 2007). The Middle East is a region that is filled with important history and rich culture. Long known as a prominent region, it has undergone a terrible depression in the last century starting with the conclusion of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Further divided after world war two, the level of development in the Middle Eastern countries is far less than average. The GDP per capita in Egypt is $6,700, with surrounding countries not that much better off. (CIA, 2013) The result is a region-wide reputation for oppressing women and keeping their role at home as the child bearer.
The recently ousted Morsi regime was known for issuing statements such as
“wives should not have the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, daughters should not have the same inheritance rights as sons and…” (Halawa, 2013).
As it appears in this example, the Middle East has a low GDP capita, thus a low standard of living, consequentially leading to the distinct separation between male and female roles in society, or perhaps vice versa. Regardless of the order or causation, the correlation exists; low development, great separation.
Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle-east all differ greatly with regards to the extent that each region is accepting of alternative gender roles. This edited research paper that discusses how breaking traditional gender roles can lead to economic development and liberalization in society.
Gender roles in China
Countries in the Asian part of the world have undergone a tremendous amount of development in the past few decades. Starting with the economic liberalization of China, countries in south East Asia have experienced rapid economic growth through trade with the larger states. China currently holds the position as the world’s second largest single state economy falling behind only the United States (CIA, 2013). With the rapid development over the course of several decades, the beginning of integration between the roles of men and women can be observed. It is typically known that typically valued male children over female, resulting in the abandonment of many Chinese baby girls. The result has been a thick discrepancy of 108 male for every 100 female (Brandigan, 2011). But whereas China was in the midst of its own revolution in the second half of the twentieth century, they were quickly able to turn everything around.
They were able to do this in the 1970’s when they were able to let go of their traditions and establish relations with the United States. Even though the U.S. was supporting the leader in Taiwan, China managed to break through and establish relations with the U.S. and the world. The result is the economic miracle witnessed in the recent decade. And as some traditions were left and replaced with new ones, women in China are earning more respect and playing a more integrated role in the economy. With modernized factory jobs and whatnot, it’s not just the man that can go out and earn productivity. Having a slight disbandment of tradition has led to more integration of women in the society and, in this case, the greatest economic growth seen in the recent decades. Once again, the causation may be in question but the relationship is there. While China still has a long ways to go before all of their problems are solved, they are well along the path of modernization.
European gender roles
Europe has long been considered along the lines of “more” to “most” developed. Countries from the east are less developed as they go to the west to the most developed. The rainfall in the region allowed for surpluses of food and necessities to be produced. With abundance in necessities, citizens were able to specialize in other skills. Because of this, Europeans were able to achieve this through rapid technological advancement in the middle ages. Back during those times of development, men typically made the big decisions in the parliament and other governmental bodies. As time continued on and the event of history unfolded, women began playing an increasing role in the economy as it develops. Now it appears that the European Union is modernized and developed, and has fully integrated their economy between males and females. Anything a male can do, a female can do, vice versa.
An article published by the European Commission,Women In Economic Decision-Making in the EU explores the critical roles women play in the current economy. This includes gender balance facts and figures, legislative measures and voluntary initiatives that have been made to further the integration of women and the impacts they have (EC, 2012). As it can be seen from general observance, Europe practices a high level of integration amongst their men and women in society. Women in Germany can be lawyers whereas they are barely afforded the opportunity of education in the Middle East. And what can be seen is a great level of difference between their development, with average GDP per capita in Europe in the $30,000-$40,000 range while the Middle Eastern countries barely break $8,000 (see gender discrimination in the workplace). While it is unclear whether gender role biases cause poor economic development or poor economic development leads to less opportunities for men who have to fill those jobs first, it is clear that a relationship exists between the two in the way demonstrated using the previous three examples. It becomes evident that providing women with a more integral role in society, perhaps not in physical labor like wood splitting but in psychological labor like lawyering and engineering, the results can only be gain in the economy. Therefore, it is concluded that greater gender role integration places society in the best position to modernize and achieve substantial economic growth.
Reflecting on gender discrimination across the globe
In conclusion, gender role integration appears to significantly relate to the level of development in those countries, or perhaps vice versa; what is for certain is that there is a relationship. Countries that implement policies to keep women from learning and participating in the economy, like the traditional practice (although not always) by people in the Middle East, results in the sub-standard quality of life in these countries. As countries in the Asian part of the world begun letting go of their gender traditions and began opening up to integration, the economy benefits have been miraculous. Finally, in a system where women are traded as professionals and valued in decision-making, the European Union is just about the furthest developed economy on the planet. These are just relationships observed through empirical evidence, and causal factors are left out of the discussion. All that can be concluded is that greater participation by women better places the country on the path to great economic development. Using this information, countries can begin readjusting their policies to achieve their objectives in the most efficient manner.
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CIA. (2013). China. CIA World Factbook. Retrieved August 24, 2013, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.htmlhttp://
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Halawa, H. (2013). The State of Women’s Rights in the Middle East – The Takeaway. The Takeaway. Retrieved August 25, 2013, from http://www.thetakeaway.org/2013/mar/18/state-womens-rights-middle-east/
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Wolchover, N. (2011). Men vs. Women: Our Key Physical Differences Explained | LiveScience . Science News – Science Articles and Current Events | LiveScience . Retrieved August 25, 2013, from http://www.livescience.com/33513-men-vs-women-our-physical-differences-explained.html