Common ideas of how men and women ‘should’ act influence the types of roles they are expected to fulfil.
Gender norms can be particularly harmful for women, as traditional female roles are commonly less valued. When male power is the norm, violence, including harassment and verbal abuse, can be used to ‘punish’ women who step outside of their expected roles.
What are the solutions?
- Raise awareness of the negative impacts of gender stereotyping and increase community support for adults and children to act in ways or take on roles that defy gender stereotypes.
- Encourage and support children, young people and adults to develop personal identities not constrained by gender stereotypes.
- Build the capacity of children, young people and adults to reject rigid gender roles, and challenge aggressive, entitled, controlling constructions of masculinity and subordinate or sexualised constructions of femininity and girlhood.
- Increase social support for masculine norms, practices and behaviours that are healthy, safe, respectful and ethical at an individual level, and within organisations and institutions.
- Promote and support gender-equitable domestic and parenting practices, including through policy and legislation, early parenting programs and workplace initiatives.
- Develop positive ways to engage men and boys in the change process, encouraging them to challenge restrictive and rigid gender roles and identities for both men and women.
Resources and books
A set of posters that challenge gender stereotypes
The Mums Can, Dads Can Project, run by the Tangentyere Family Violence Prevention Program (TFVPP), aims to challenge rigid gender stereotypes regarding the parenting roles of men and women.
Books and resources promoting girls' and women's agency
This website lists children’s books, movies and toys that promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes.
A study on what it's like to be a young man in Australia
The Man Box: A study on being a young man in Australia is the first comprehensive study that focuses on the attitudes to manhood and the behaviours of young Australian men aged 18 to 30.