Gender norms can be defined as the sets of rules stating what the appropriate masculine and feminine behavior is in a given culture (Ryle, 2012).
Additionally, Gender norms are the standards of behaviors and manifestations that nourish the traits we expect from each gender. There are certain supposed standards of traits that define the line between the two genders.
Some of the norms that have persisted since a long time are:
- Men are supposed to be masculine and powerful, taking in charge of activities while women are supposed to be feminine and passive, supportive of men and yet sexy.
- Men are considered free to be explorative in terms of sexuality whereas women are supposed to protect their virginal sexuality.
- Men are the power holders in the society so they are expected to confide by these norms strictly while women, who hold relatively less power, may be freer to reinvent their realities, within limits (Raskoff, 2010).
Gender norms are not stagnant. They may change with times; the time frame may be different. It is crucial to have a general concept of the existing gender norms in order to thrive in an environment that requires coordinating of both the genders.
Gender norms at home carry a different perspective for males and females. Having a clear concept of the gender norms helps in better communicating and interacting at different areas of actions as follows:
Home comprises of different norms, and it is the place where we get the witness the most traditional to the most modern gender norms. One who can communicate well at home can also apply the same techniques at other places and succeed. But, correct knowledge and application of gender norms is mandatory.
The response differs from home to home as to the preconceived social statements like “It is much better for everyone if the man earns the main living and the woman takes care of the home” and “family and preschool children are likely to suffer if their mother is employed”.
Following the existing gender norms gives a better chance to communicate with the different members of the family, depending upon the roles they perceive of themselves.
It is expressed in various reports that although women’s hours of market work and simultaneous men’s contribution to household work have increased during the latest decades, women still do significantly more household work and less market work than men (Aronsson & Granlund, 2013). Additionally, evidences suggest that gender norms, or gender ideology are also important determinants of who succeeds in the workplace and by what degree.
Communicating with bosses of opposite genders in the modern times and also with employees, that have the same situation, is a crucial job to do. Gender norms give a clear direction as to what degree of friendliness or assertiveness one should follow in the workplace to deliver the desired message better.
The right degree of gender norms compliance is often the key to the success of managers. Gender norms provide a guideline as to what message, in what form and what time is to be communicated to your colleagues. If we apply wrong gender norms, we might offend the masculinity or feminism of the person we are communicating. Gender norms save these consequences of misunderstanding through miscommunication.
In Online Classrooms:
Online classroom is an interactive forum where people of different genders and so different backgrounds of gender norms accumulate. In this sense, it is essential for a student to apply gender norms, accruing to the background of the online peer.
Gender norms help prevent misunderstandings, create a better learning environment, create an atmosphere of ease and create a bonding that is not biased. It assists in easy interaction between members of the classroom, without establishing a sense of doubt. It also prevents verbal gender violence, which is against any gender norm.
Let us analyze the effects of the gender norms in terms of the four major communication skills that can be worked upon (SIL International, 1999). The communication skills that can be developed through gender norms are:
Gender norms help in the orientation of our thoughts regarding our own and the other gender. It helps to access the different thoughts that individuals develop two separate genders so as to put ourselves in their places and think accordingly. Gender norms are designed as to understand the orientation of thoughts that traditionally and inherently exist within genders, so it is easier to access the opinion and beliefs of opposite genders, and better decisions could be taken.
A variety of speech associated with a particular gender is sometimes called a gendered. Gender norms help to get perfection in this knowledge of gendered. It is necessary to access what to speak and how to speak in front of audiences of different genders, and to be able to hone the required perfectionist level of speaking.
- Non- Verbal:
While making efforts strengthen nonverbal communication with gender norms, it is important to understand that Men and Women are more alike than different. It has been proved in researches that women are more accurate in sending and receiving nonverbal signals. When we understand the norms that each particular gender follows, it is easier to use the nonverbal signs accordingly. It helps in accessing the fact that the way females receive nonverbal signs is much more effective and different than that of men. Gender norms help follow a trend in which one can communicate and get communicated better.
- Team Work:
Another important communication skills honed by Gender norms is effective team work. The norms help in building, shaping and finally using the team to achieve the objectives. With gender norms we can promote cooperation, mutual understanding and effective communication between members of a team, which may be of different genders.
Thus, studies suggest that the communication between women and men is the most effective when they understand the “invisible rules” unique to each gender. These invisible rules are the gender norms. A better compliance and understanding of the gender norms will definitely help in sharpening the communication skills of individuals whether at home, workplace or in classrooms ("Gender and Communication", n.d.).
Aronsson, T., & Granlund, D. (2013). Gender norms, work hours, and corrective taxation. Retrieved from Umeå: Univ., Dep. of Economics website: http://umu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:621038/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Gender and Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/uscg/gender_communication.htm
Raskoff, S. (2010, November 11). Everyday Sociology Blog: Dancing with Gender Norms. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2010/11/dancing-with-gender-norms.html
Ryle, R. (2012). How Do We Learn Gender? Gender and Socialization. In Questioning gender: A sociological exploration. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE/Pine Forge Press.
SIL International (1999). Four basic language skills. Retrieved from http://www-01.sil.org/lingualinks/LANGUAGELEARNING/OtherResources/GudlnsFrALnggAndCltrLrnngPrgrm/FourBasicLanguageSkills.htm