The culture impacts the value of women on leadership, career advancement, emotions, and gender perceptions
Culture impacts the value of women, defined as the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society, impacts both men and women. It starts very early with the pink or blue blankets we’re often wrapped in at birth, to what our parents, teachers, coaches, and friends teach us, to what we absorb from the cartoons, books, magazines, and movies we watch. It is a powerful, driving force that puts enormous pressure on us to conform to societal beliefs.
However, family culture impacts the value of women, based on our race or ethnicity, is equally as powerful and starts just as early. In many cultures, women are expected to be responsible for things that men are not. And, there are more pressures put on girls and women to look and behave in certain ways. It’s generally expected that older siblings should take care of younger siblings. But many Asian, Indian, Hispanic, and Latino cultures believe that girls (even if the youngest) should take care of the males in the family.
Time and time again, a family’s culture impacts the value of women shows as one of the biggest influences of our gender beliefs and gender roles – and seems to be ubiquitous across most races and ethnicities.
For example, the students represent Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Guatemalan, and Filipino cultures. All these have shared expectations regarding gender roles and the value of girls and women at home and in society.
Like, how a 90-year-old Indian grandmother had to cook and clean up after four adult men in the household, even though she had trouble getting around herself. A Mexican student expressed that she was expected to cook all meals and do laundry for her brothers who were never taught these skills. Her brothers were told they didn’t need to learn these skills because “that’s girls’ work.” A Korean student detailed her desire to play sports when she was young and begged her parents over and over, but her parents only allowed piano because that was “more suitable for girls.”
Another student who is Filipino-American shared that in high school she and her brother were supposed to prioritize schoolwork over things such as going out with friends or being in romantic relationships. She took this seriously because she was taught to follow expectations and not question her parents. No matter how many times her brother prioritized other parts of his life over school, he was forgiven. She remembers her parents saying that his behavior was due to him “being a boy.” She shared that these cultural expectations affected her communication skills because she now has difficulty speaking up for herself, especially in group settings when conflict or disagreements occur. She tends to avoid them by going along with the majority.
It’s often acceptable for boys to bend the rules whereas girls are expected to follow the rules. This double standard in how we treat boys and girls can restrict girls from speaking their minds, trying new things, and fighting for what they want. In addition, an inability to disappoint parents can cause girls to become people-pleasers and followers.
The bottom line is that strong culture impacts the value of women and family influences can impact the personality, success, and dreams of young women.
What can we do?
Gender roles at home can and should be blurred. We should be teaching all our children to cook, clean, do laundry and fix things around the house – essential life skills for any adult. We should also be aware of cultural impacts the value of women inconsistencies in how we treat girls and boys and the messages we are sending our daughters. We need to challenge cultural expectations that women should be responsible for things that men are not.
Women are equally capable as men to be successful and happy. Our childhood upbringing and culture should reflect that. Individual disparities in the desire for social freedom in women exist. This can be attributed to the hold of culture in our lives and the mental conditioning of women from an early age.