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Blurred Boundaries:

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There are unisex hairstyles, unisex clothing and,yes, even unisex bath-rooms. (Just ask the folksworking at the law firm oftelevision’s “Ally McBeal”where men and womencasually use the same bathroom.)Today, it is more accept-able for girls and youngwomen to shine in areassuch as math and science.More and more women arebreaking into the top ranksof corporate America,although they are seriouslyunderrepresented in the“line officer” jobs that leadto promotions.Likewise, it is moreacceptable for boys andyoung men to enroll incooking classes andexplore various humanitiescourses. It is “okay” forfathers not to be work-aholics, to take a greaterrole in parenting andchildrearing. In fact, youmight even know a stay-at-home dad.Sociologists say thatgender attitudes beganshifting when Americamoved from an industry-based economy to a moreservice-based economy. Aswomen entered the work-place, men learned to stepup their roles inside thehome. People began ques-tioning gender roles and,later, gender boundaries.Shaping and ReflectingCultural AttitudesWhen it comes to shap-ing and reflecting culturalattitudes and stereotypes,television is one of themost powerful forces inAmerica today. The revolution in thewomen’s workforce partic-ipation has been televised.In “I Love Lucy,” we saw awoman who was a stay-at-home wife and motherordan Smith walks into Old Navy andbuys a pair of pants. In another cornerof the same mall, another JordanSmith walks into the hair salon andgets a close-cropped cut. One Jordan is aWeb designer and a volunteer firefighter.The other works as a nurse and playslacrosse. Which Jordan is male and which is female? The answer: it could be either.Experts say that Americans are redefiningthe roles of men and women. As a culturewe are pushing and shifting gender rolesand boundaries. Evidence of our culture’sexploration of what it means to be male orfemale is all around us.JPriya Mehta ’012Blurred Boundaries:The Changing Roles ofwho longed to be some-thing more. Who could for-get Lucy’s crazy schemesto enter show business?Today’s “Ally McBeal”reflects the ambition,achievements and strug-gles of many professionals.From “Star Trek” to“Home Improvement,” wehave seen the roles of menslowly evolve. The crew ofStar Trek (primarily men)were explorers and scien-tists who took us to placeswhere no man had gonebefore. In Tim the ToolMan Taylor, we see a manwho works in a construc-tion business who is forcedto explore his feelingsabout his wife, his childrenand other issues. “Television — and themedia in general — is atool that sometimes shat-ters stereotypes of menand women,” observesjunior Andrew Johnson, aScientific Illustration major.“It can let us see women invalued positions and posi-tions of power. It some-times shows us men whoaren’t afraid to expresstheir emotions. Televisioncan also influence us withskewed perspectives,unhealthy stereotypes.”Johnson believes thatthe strongest and most per-vasive influence in shapingand changing roles is fami-ly. Johnson admits that hisown family is fairly tradi-tional. His father is the pri-mary wage earner whichallowed his mother tofocus on the family andhousehold. He also appre-ciates his mother’s pursuitof her own career once thechildren were grown.Revolution in the Workplace“Technology is having abig role in changing ourculture — including gen-der roles,” says Dr. JoanThompson, Co-chair andProfessor of PoliticalScience. “Working fromhome is something thatboth men and women doand that can change theirwork and family lives.Men and women canmaintain careers andremain at home to beactively involved in child-rearing and parenting.”More and more womenare breaking into the topranks of corporate Americaalthough obstacles remain,according to a survey bywomen’s research groupCatalyst. Women are mak-ing steady progress in theheadquarters of Fortune500 companies both inrank and compensation.Some 11.9 percent of the11,681 corporate officers inAmerica’s top 500 compa-nies are women (up from11.2 percent last year and8.7 in 1995).According to the survey,women say they are notperceived as tough enoughfor line jobs (those whorun the factories, head thesales staffs and supervisethe accounting). They’reseen as having “soft” skills,people skills, and arenudged into humanresources and public rela-tions. “Some has to dowith a good old-fashioneddash of discrimination,”says Susan Meisinger,Chief Operating Officer ofthe Society for HumanResource Management, aprofessional associationbased in Alexandria, Va.“There are preconceivednotions that they can’t putwomen in certain positionsbecause of familydemands, the belief theycan’t dedicate enoughenergy to the job.” This ischanging as more womensucceed in high-rankingpositions. Meanwhile, a growingnumber of young womenare graduating in fieldssuch as accounting, busi-ness management andtechnology, “a feedergroup” for line officer jobsin the future.Today’s Couples —Egalitarian TeamFor Tom and LorenSciascia, ’86 graduates,gender roles bend and flex.Together they manageGargoyle Communications,a thriving, home-basedgraphic design firm. Tom isthe graphic designer andLoren brings marketingand writing expertise tothe firm. Both work withclients and share in busi-ness decisions.“We started ourbusiness in 1991,” saysSciascia. “By the time westarted our family, we hadgotten the business off theground and established aclient base. We both knewthe hours and routinedemanded by the business.”Continued on page 4...In John Gray’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus itis important to remember that your partner is as different fromyou as someone from another planet. The author wants us to acknowledge that there are basic differences betweenmen and women. These differences — caused by our biology, parental influence,education, birth order, cultural conditioning by society, the media and history —are to be accepted and respected. In doing so, we will become better listeners,better communicators and better partners.Gray’s philosophy has created an empire: counseling centers, self help guidesand more. It has spurred a television show and a board game.Junior Andrew Johnson has the board game which pits men and womenagainst each other. “It certainly gets you riled up,” laughs Johnson. “In answeringquestions, we find out that we don’t know one another as well as we think we doand we sometimes make ridiculous assumptions

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