What are Gender Stereotypes

Gender differences in the adjectives used by men and women to describe themselves and others can be seen in two areas: adjectives may be ascribed differentially to other men and women, and adjectives may be endorsed differentially by men and women themselves. Ascription deals with sex-trait stereotypes, and endorsement concerns how these traits are incorporated into self and ideal-self descriptions, hence masculinity and femininity.

Stereotype traits reflect cognitive beliefs about differences between women and men that participants share with members of their culture. Stereotypes are not necessarily pernicious and may contain some elements of truth. They help predict others' behaviors, but they also fail to recognize individual differences and overlap between groups. For example, if one considers men to be more aggressive than women, this ignores individual differences and variation in aggression found in both gender groups. Some women are more aggressive than some men. Stereotypes make no allowance for variability and, when believed uncritically, they justify treating all men as more aggressive than all women.

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