It’s critical to first comprehend gender roles in order to comprehend the connection between the economy and gender roles. Gender roles are merely a collection of socially accepted actions that represent how a particular gender should act. As a result, gender roles greatly influence the tasks that a certain gender may perform. Despite the fact that gender roles are profoundly ingrained in society expectations, they are negatively impacted by other elements like the economic system. In fact, it appears that changes to the economic system and gender roles coexist. This stems from the fact that economic system changes have direct implications on people’s livelihood and hence the overall state of the society.
An economic system exists to serve the purpose of determining how goods and services are to be produced, distributed and allocated within a given society. To achieve this, people have to distribute tasks geared towards sustenance of an economic system. More importantly, the allocation of tasks within a given society has to be in a manner that achieves maximum benefit. Attempts to achieve maximum benefit led people to focus on gender lines in allocating resources during the medieval era. As such, women were charged with the responsibility of maintaining the household including looking after children. Moreover, women could not own factors of production including land which left them out of the system for a long time (Sandy, 2007). Being a patriarchal system, men were chiefly the breadwinners and thus allocated tasks meant to sustain the family and the society at large. Although the overall implication of this system has been greatly criticized on the basis of gender inequality, its main purpose was to arguably attain maximum benefit for the society. In simpler terms, gender roles were crafted with the intent of matching the existing economic system.
Moreover, it is arguably impossible to ignore economic development as a measure of human advancement. As such, attempts to attain economic development necessitated the fashioning of a different economic system that consequently resulted in gender role changes. This is attributed to the realization that women were also capable of making significant and important contributions in attaining economic development. As such, the economic system became more liberal and accommodative to the participation of women in various tasks previously considered menial. Similarly, in modern day the economic system accommodates men participation in responsibilities formerly assigned to women such as household maintenance. For instance, an analysis of the U.S census revealed there were about 1.9 million stay-at-home dads in 2015 compared to only 6 identified in 1970 (Shifflett et al., 2015). This implies that although other factors may be in play, gender roles have greatly changed to accommodate economic system changes.
Conclusively, it is evident that economic system changes go hand in hand with gender roles changes. This is attributed to the fact that the economic system has direct impact on the society and hence the discussed effect on gender roles to fit the emerging changes. Additionally, economic progress is essential in the course of human development. As such, gender roles are prone to changes that are beneficial and aid in achieving economic progress.
. Bardsley, Sandy. Women’s Roles in the Middle Ages. Westport: Conn, 2007.
Shifflett, Shane et al. “The states with the most stay-at-home fathers.” The Huffington Post, 13 May 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/13/stay-at-home-fathers_n_7261020.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.