Talcott Parsons first analyzed the gender role of an individual in society in 1955 and came upon differing roles of the female gender and its male counterpart. He believed that the role of the female gender was "expressive" and she would perform internal functions of family like strengthening family ties. The man however performed "instrumental" or external functions like providing monetary support for the family.
Gender clashes between men and women are common. Those who believe in gender stereotypes of masculine and feminine tend to develop gender conceit or a certain bias against the opposite sex. This clash has a long history. The role of the female gender was limited to the kitchen while their men climbed the corporate ladder. But somewhere along the way feminist movement started and the men did not know what hit them. Thereafter it has been a virtual warzone in the homes about the decisions to be made from chores to be done to which shares to invest in.
Early Sociologists used to believe that gender was universally ascribed (by birth) but today are of the view that different elements of gender can be achieved. In either case, gender role must be within socially prescribed boundaries within which creative freedom is allowed. Therefore gender roles have been changing fast albeit within the confines of societal norms.
The female gender has taken giant strides. In education, women are taking up traditional male domains like science and engineering. Co-education ensures equality in opportunity for girls. Career and professional advancement have become equally important for the female gender. The gender role of housekeeping and child rearing is now shared with the males. Most of all, women have earned a say in decision making.
There is a debate on how the sexes acquire their gender identity and corresponding gender roles. Some point out that it is mainly through the socialization process that starts from birth and lasts through a lifetime. Social conditioning encourages members of female gender to play with dolls and learn cooking. One side of the the nature/nurture debate says that female gender is naturally inclined to housework. They believe that biological differences account for varied gender roles. Anthropological studies also observed that nurturing role of women limited their other roles.
Modern day feminists rejected this biological-gender role connection. But one recent study concluded that the "female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, while the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems." Whatever the case, today the female gender in modern societies enjoys equal status in work and plays so much so that one's gender role does not seem to be determined by one's sex.
In fact, gender bending identities have emerged in society. One example is the "sensitive new age guy" (SNAG), who is as sensitive and caring as a woman. Another is the metrosexual male who is exceedingly obsessed to be well groomed like a woman. On the side of the female gender is the Super Mom, who balances career and family and the New Age woman who shuns married life.
The gender role of the female gender has been culturally, socially, and politically altered from time to time. It is highly fluid and reflects the changing status of women in society. Ultimately it affects the nature of the social fabric as a whole as it is females who nurture society.