Many and gender role expectations do not limit

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Many and gender role expectations do not limit

Many factors depend on an individual’s success, but the most
prominent is feeling restricted to doing as society expects you to do based on
your gender and class status and not as you want to. In the Seventeenth an
Eighteenth Centuries, success for males was strictly defined by their social
hierarchy status in society. Therefore, “Conducts Books for Boys” were not
advising males to become successful and prosperous, but rather to continue
being the “pillars in society” (Avery et al., 2005, pp. 1425). Females, on the
other hand, were household bound and were restricted to being skilled, but not
as highly skilled as their male counterparts of the same status that they would
be more successful than them. As it states in the “Conduct Books for Girls,” “The
trick for upper-class women, especially through the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, was to be accomplished-without being too accomplished” (Avery et
al., 2005, pp. 1432-3). Through generations though, the notion of gender
stereotypes has been challenged by both genders in response to the limitations
they have been given based on their gender as defined by society. More recently, individuals are taking a
stance and making it known that gender norms and gender role expectations do
not limit their abilities to become who they want to, and aspire to, become in
today’s world.            In her 1903
conduct book, “Don’t for Girls: A Manual of Mistakes,” Minna Thomas Antrim wrote,
“Don’t become masculine if you are a
college girl. Fit yourself for a vocation if you choose, but hold fast to your
girlish personality.” (pp. 1442). This advice to girls has been challenged by
many females as it is viewed as a gender stereotype, restricting females to
stay as feminine as possible. STEM occupations (Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Math) were previously male-dominated jobs. However, according
to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2009 females began
competing for STEM degrees, and were able to obtain a degree and then a job in
the fields of math and physical and life science. Although the statistic is
very close in the field of math, ten percent of females to six percent males,
change is slowly beginning to show as more females than males graduate with
Math degrees and work in the Math profession (Beede et al., 2009, pp.6).
Additionally, females have also dominated the physical and life science majors,
as more than half, 57 percent of female graduates with a STEM degree compared
to just 31 percent of male graduates with a STEM degree work in this field (Beede
et al., 2009, pp.6). Going forward, females will continue to fight for their
right to be included in “masculine” professions and fight for a change in the
way society sees them as the weaker gender.

            Additionally,
in 1740, when John Barnard wrote a guide to success for his son, he warned him
not to lose his high standing in society for as the higher he was in status,
the more successful he was. In A Present
for an Apprentice; or, A Sure Guide to Gain Both Esteem and an Estate, Barnard
wrote for his son to “be especially advised, not to have any familiarity with
the Maidservants of the family where you are” as they’ll “interpret it
affection, and make no difficulty to challenge you upon that account” (1740,
pp. 1429; 1740, pp. 1429). In other words, Barnard warned his son that if he
does have an affair with his servant, his life will be ruined and he will be
shunned by his family and other royals. This advice was also strictly a royal
rule; if you are a Prince, you must marry another royalty and stay within the
royal families. This advice from Barnard to his son had most recently been challenged
by Prince Harry of Wales, a British Royal, who is engaged to, and soon will
marry, Meghan Markle, an American citizen. Amid all the controversies with
Meghan Markle becoming part of the British royal family, Prince Harry had been
“pushing the royal boundaries” into assuring his British royal family, and
everyone else, that he should not be limited to only marrying within other
royal families, as there is nothing wrong with marrying a non-royal (Macatee,
2018). Prince Harry is trying to prove that he can be live just as successful
life with a non-Royal American citizen as he would with a British Royal.

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            The
next advice to females which has been reinvented by both genders is that of
Minna Thomas Antrim. Antrim’s advice to young girls was “Don’t neglect the domestic virtues” (1903, pp. 1442). Previously
more prominently than now, females were housewives and males were the breadwinners
of the family. Only males were allowed to work outside the house and bring money
home to support the family whereas, as this quote explains, a mother’s role was
to stay at home to take care of the kids, the house, and the husband when he
comes home from work. While going to work does not mean females are neglecting
their domestic virtues, it does take away the norm that females, not males,
nannies or maids, should be the caregivers to their children while also taking
care of household duties. Pew Research’s study on stay-at-home fathers in
comparison to stay-at-home mothers shows that from 1989 to 2012, females are six
percent less likely to be at home because they are becoming “more educated” (Livingston,
2014, pp. 10). With that said, more females
going to school and continuing their education past a Bachelor’s degree, they
are less likely to have the time to raise children or even do household chores.

            This
gender stereotype that mothers should stay at home coincides with the changing stereotype
that fathers are the supporters of the family. Among other advice which John
Barnard gave, he informed his son about money management. He wrote to his son how
much it cost financially to “set you fairly out” warning him to “balance your
expenses not by those of another person, but by your own abilities” for he knew
that males were supposed to be the head supporters of the family (Barnard, 1740,
pp. 1429). In the past decade, there has been a shift to more stay at home dads
who take on the domestic role, while the mother goes to become the breadwinners
of the family. A study from Pew Research Center comparing the number of
stay-at-home fathers throughout two consecutive decades ending in 2012
concluded that at-home fathers nearly doubled from 1.1 million in 1989 to 2
million in 2013. As twenty-one percent of these stay-at-home dads say, it was
their own choice to stay at home to take care of the household and kids. This
reasoning “represents a fourfold increase from 1989, when only 5%
of stay-at-home fathers said they were home primarily to care for family” (Livingston, 2014, pp. 6). Being at home, these fathers take on the female’s
role of housework responsibilities and raising children, which challenged Barnard’s
advice that males needed to earn money to support their family.  

            Although
change is an obstacle which does not always bring success at first, and
breaking gender and social class stereotypes is very challenging, there are still
numerous contemporary examples of individuals fighting to break these gender role
and class expectations. Females are beginning to change the norm that society
previously did not accept and looked down upon when a female’s admiration was
to go into what others refer to as a “male’s profession” or otherwise an
occupation dominated by males as it was “too masculine.” Females are becoming
more educated, beginning to work in male occupations, and are less concerned
with being bound to stay ladylike. Males too are challenging their gender roles
of being breadwinners of the household as there are more and more stay at home
dads nowadays than a decade or two ago which also intertwines with the
stereotype that females were to stay at home and do housework which females
have also challenged. Factors which lead to success, as proved by all of these
contemporary examples, is beginning to change. An individual no longer has to
follow in accordance to the society’s expectations in order to be successful in
life. 

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