According to the Gender role theory the girls and boys learn to perform their biologically assigned gender roles through particular attitudes and behaviors. Social role theory says that the social structure is the basic reason that distinguishes genders. Furthermore it is the division of labor between two sexes in the society that drives the sex-differentiated behavior in the society and creates the perceived gender roles that lead to the particular social behavior that particular gender possess.Moreover it explains the impact of the environment on the roles of the gender and the impact of socialization on learning how to behave being a male or female.

So the men fulfill the tasks which require strength, speed and the ability to work away from home for extended time period. On the other hand, as women are mainly responsible for childbearing so they are more likely perform tasks which are related to the family and home. So, because of the differential social roles that are inhabited by both men and women on the basis of the division of labor the genderroles are developed with certain expectations about thebehaviors and the characteristics of men and women.

So the women are expected to perform the feminine gender role reflecting communal qualities and men are expected to perform the masculine genderrole reflecting more of agentic qualities. This is actually nothing to do with their sex but only the perceived social role.

Injunctiveand descriptive social norms are what helping to maintain the adherence to themen and women’s traditional gender roles. It is the descriptive norms that provide the information to the people that how similar people behave in particular situations. So, people look to the same-sex behaviors from others in order to determine the appropriate way to behave in particular situation, particularly the situations which are confusing or ambiguous.

The deviations from these descriptive norms may not be disapproved by the society but they often surprises people and might threat the social interaction. On the other hand, the expectations that how people should behave are the injunctive norms. They are the guidelines towards the behaviors which are not liked by the society or community and are shameful for community in light of the expectations. So, the women and men violating the injunctive norms that are associated to particular gender role like men are responsible for providing to their families would be more likely to face social disapproval. The descriptive and injunctive norms work together in helping maintain the adherence of the individuals to the traditional gender roles as deviations from those expected behaviors and normswould most likely produce uncomfortable social interactions.

Nowadays it is common for both men and women to violate those traditionally assigned gender rolesand norms and they are taking on social roles which were traditionally held by the other genders for example women leaders and male homemakers. They perceive that the gender roles they are taking are not related to their sex but rather to the social roles they perform.


Lisa A. Harrison and Amanda B. Lynch (2005). Social Role Theory and the Perceived Gender Role Orientation of Athletes. Sex Roles, Vol. 52, pp. 227-236. Retrieved from:

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