Psychology professor discusses gender roles in the 21st century

By Jefri Nazri

Staff Writer

A workshop entitled ‘The Struggle for Equality; Gender Roles in the 21st Century’ was held on Monday, Mar. 23, as a part of the semester-long Leadership Workshop series, which features leadership skills and critical concerns. Jessica Gilbert, advisor to the Black and Latino Student Union, introduced Dr. Michelle Bannoura, an associate professor of psychology at Hudson Valley, to speak about this topic.

Dr. Bannoura explained different definitions such as gender, what it means psychologically and biologically to be a male or female, gender roles, and characteristics or expectations ‘assigned’ to each sex. He also discussed gender stereotypes, which are beliefs about individuals based on gender roles and how the individuals perceive sex. Another topic he talked about was sexism, which is prejudice and or discrimination against a person because of their perceived sex. Finally, he discussed feminism, the advocacy of women’s rights for political, social, and economic equality.

“We see this in job interviews a lot: when you fill out an application, it says ‘gender.’ What they really want to know is your sex. They really don’t care about how you identify, whether you are masculine or feminine, but in our society the word sex is scary because there is a verb version, so gender is considered the least emotionally charged word,” said Bannoura.

Bannoura explained that our gender identity is really one of the first places where we can make people uncomfortable. “As a society we like men to be a certain way, and women to be a certain way, and that would be our gender roles. This is what men should do, dress, act, and this is what women should do, dress, and act.”

She explained that although women are physically different than men, in certain situations people need to put that aside. “If a woman comes to apply for a job as a construction worker, then I would expect her to be able to lift the same 50-, 75-pound bag as would a guy, and if I were to have a guy come in to be a nurse, I would expect him to be just as caring and compassionate as any woman,” said Bannoura.

Tyler Mosely, a pyschology major, said, “I learned about this workshop through Ms. Gilbert. I’m an active member in the BLSU, so I work a lot with her. I thought it was really educational and influential. It opened up my mind because I study psychology, and I understand more about how women see things, and it also brought a positive argument about the male’s perspective too on the topic. It was good that the workshop has a panel where people can give their own input and be able to discuss these kinds of topics.”

 

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