Gender Socialization in Society and the Media

The blog post, Gender Socialization at University highlights one of the many gender norms one experiences at university; such as the different gym facilities. I would like to take this idea a step further and explore some other places within the society where social constructs affect gender differences.

            Queens offers a variety of specified programs such as engineering, computer science, psychology, nursing, fine arts and much more. These programs draw students from a wide cultural basis as far as Pakistan, Dubai and as close as Kingston. The Queen’s University Journal conducted a survey, which allowed them to break down the specific faculties by sexes. It is important to take into account that these ratios have a slight bias they come from the 2005 graduating class where almost 57% of their graduates were females. While taking this into account, the enrollment between females and males are still significantly different in some programs, which can be seen with the women to men ratio provided by The Journal. Some of the most significant differences can be seen in, English 3:1, French 5:1, psychology 8:1 and the most divergent is Nursing 81:2. 

One may then ask why does nursing present the most disparate enrollment between the sexes? When one hears the word nurse, the majority of people will immediately think of a woman. This is a prime example of genderization. This can also be seen with Ernest Hemmingway was seen wearing pink as a baby.  Presently, if a baby in our society would wear pink we would automatically assume that it is a girl and to be honest, probably 99% of the time we would be correct. The fact that the colour represents femininity is a social construct that our society has created. Just as though our society has created pink for girls, our society has created a social construct that nursing is a woman’s job. Accordingly, the woman to man ratio of the nursing program at Queens clearly reflects this social construct, as there are 81 females for every two males in the program.

This social construct reflects our values and gender roles in North America. In North America we view women to be the nurturers and caregivers of the household. Similarly, the job of a nurse is to care for individuals and nurse them back to health. A sexual script is the way we are suppose to behave and carry ourselves that is reflective of our gender. Accordingly, is it women’s sexual script to be the homemaker? Is this the cultural ideology within North America?

In contrast, in psychology 100 we learn that in the nation of Burburg, males are raised to take care of domestic duties and women are raised to pursue professional careers. As a result, it is evident that people of Burburg have different gender roles than most people in North America. Is it then accurate to assume that the majority of nurses in Burburg would be males? Or would this be an incorrect assumption. If the majority of nurses in North America are female because they are the caregivers of the household then I believe it would be quite accurate to assume that the majority of nurses would be men in the nation of Burburg. According to the gender roles of these places I believe this to be true, but I definitely do not agree with it.

Bringing this social construct to the outside world, we seldom to never see male nurses in media. If we take it a step further and talk about doctors there is a significant difference in gender roles. Currently, a lot more women are becoming doctors, making the male and female doctors almost a one-to-one ratio. If I think about doctors in the media I immediately think about the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s Anatomy is a fabulous show that highlights the lives of doctors in Seattle Grace Hospital. In Grey’s Anatomy there is approximately the same amount of male and female doctors. Although this is true, throughout the eight seasons it aired many of the main female doctors suffered from mental breakdowns. In season five we see Izzie Stevens suffer from a mental breakdown as she hallucinates seeing her deceased husband around the hospital. This distracts Izzie from her job and is the beginning of her downfall on the show. In season six we see Lexie Grey traumatized by a shooting coercing her into a an unstable mental state making her be admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric ward. Lastly, in season 7 we view the strongest character, Christina Yang suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder provoking her to quit her job at the hospital. It is quite problematic that only the women in this show suffer mental breakdowns from the hardships they have to endure throughout their careers and lives. I believe this creates a strong message to the audience about the capability of women doctors. As well this theme could be extrapolated to refer to the whole female gender in general. Although Grey’s seems to incorporate male and females equally they seem to create an androcentric perspective as the men can successfully achieve their work without having mental breakdowns. This is just one of many shows in pop culture that portrays gender roles, androcentrism and gender socialization. 

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