The gender stereotypes

Image: Clara Figueiredo, untitled, digitalized photomontage, 2017


Thoughts on the campaign CPB London

In recent years, companies are becoming increasingly sensitive to inclusion and gender equity. When facing the problem, difficulties arose, mentalities and legacies that were difficult to eradicate in a short time. We are talking about “gender bias”, prejudices and even difficulties related to gender diversity.

The fact can be framed in one of the four fundamental actions of the concept of social action, defined by the German sociologist Max Weber. The fact sets up a clear example of traditional action. For Weber, traditional action is that dictated by habits, customs and beliefs, transformed into second nature. Weber emphasizes that to act in accordance with tradition, actors do not need to conceive a goal, or a value, actors are simply led by reflexes rooted in long practice.

In this, in itself, the CPB London campaign exposes a critique of stereotypes and gender roles in the workplace – those that are historically, socially and culturally rooted in a general collective grounded in a traditional action, an action that naturalized over time . The criticism is contained in the following sentences: “Imagine someone…”, “Imagine a…” e “is it a woman, or a man?”.

We emphasize that gender stereotypes are mainly related to rigid expectations about male and female behavior within a sociocultural context. They are often inextricably rooted in gendered culture, to the point of helping to fuel a complex phenomenon like gender-based violence.


sex and gender

The meaning of the terms sex and gender are not overlapping. Sex corresponds to the biological characteristics with which one is born (the genitals are the first and most evident of these characteristics), gender, on the other hand, concerns the roles and responsibilities that are “assigned” to men and women by the cultural contexts of reference (families, colleagues, communities, institutions), therefore not pre-defined in nature. From this angle, as gender is the product of a process of sociocultural construction of the concepts of feminine and masculine, gender roles – that is, the set of behaviors that are expected based on the individual’s sex – can also change over time. time.

Let's agree that advances in equal opportunities for men and women show that there has been progress in the last century towards a redefinition of gender roles. Today, we know that dressing boys in blue or giving a girl a toy kitchen are choices dictated by culture and, as such, have symbolic implications.

By differentiating men and women based on social expectations about appearance and behavior, rigid gender roles can not only constitute a limit to people's identity and potential, but also contribute to generating unfair power hierarchies.

In this way, then, the Durkheimian expression 'division of sexual labor' does not apprehend the relations of inequality between the sexes, the delimitation of male and female social spaces is perceived as a founding aspect of an evolved society. Loaded with influences from social biologicism, the author uses the bodily differences between women and men to justify the delimitation of sexual boundaries in the social environment (MATIAS DOS SANTOS, 2007).


Social roles and stereotypes in today's society

However, gender roles can be so rigidly ingrained that they are considered the only right way to do things., maintaining a power – often unrecognized as persistent – ​​to influence expectations and behaviors, which can crystallize in gender stereotypes. These stereotypes can result in behaviors that are harmful to oneself and others, as in the case of “toxic masculinity”.

In this circumstance, we believe that the rooting of stereotypes about gender roles, on the one hand, and the attitude towards violent behavior, on the other, are the keys to understanding the cultural context in which violent relationships find their genesis and justification. . Examples are the episodes of violence resulting from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, or the verbal harassment that women suffer on the street from strangers, which are called “cantadas”.

We warn that, in recent years, we have witnessed a progressive increase in sensitivity to issues of diversity and gender equality, and more and more initiatives have begun to pave the way to reduce gender inequalities.

However, we observed that, however, women still face numerous obstacles on a daily basis, such as greater difficulties in reaching leadership positions in companies, fewer promotions than colleagues and the wage difference. These are just some of the difficulties and challenges faced by women in the world of work today. These points are well exemplified in the campaign proposed for analysis.


The campaign

The campaign is an invitation to reflect on what are the most widespread stereotypes in the dichotomy between men and women in the world of work, as an opportunity to understand the possible variables (succinctly) of gender inequality within companies.

However, in the meantime, it is important to remember that Comte's naturalization of sexual difference and inequality suggests that even when he appeared to be talking about “individuals” without regard to gender, he was actually talking about men. For example: although he defined “spontaneous speculative activity” as the main characteristic that separated “Man” from “lower animals”, he also emphasized the “relative inferiority of Woman” considering this as “mental work” (PEDERSEN, 2006).

In particular, in view of this, we recognize that, although today there is greater equality of rights, the stereotypes that have been consolidated over time in relation to women and the world of work struggle to be completely overcome.

However, we are aware that some prejudices are rooted in ourselves. Supported by this, although we apparently share ideas of equality and diversity, we are not always able to be totally neutral. We believe that the full awareness of this will help us to implement actions that neutralize unconscious reactions.

In our research, we found that companies that don't have a diverse workforce are missing out on a long range of advantages over those that do. And that's because diversity and inclusion breed productivity as the ability to learn and grow from one another expands exponentially.

The diverse exchange of ideas drives a richer generation of proposals, which in turn leads to greater innovation and creativity. We understand that when we talk about diversity, we should not just stay in the area better known as gender, but go much further and, in this sense, we refer to age, race, disability, religion, origin or family composition, among others. Many others.

We emphasize that different types of people are constantly being incorporated into the company's models. Each of these people has a set of knowledge, skills, attributes and abilities to contribute to a workplace and, more importantly, a diverse perspective to bring to bear in group projects and discussions.

However, as a result, an organization that does not recognize or value diverse perspectives will not see problems from all possible angles and make the best decisions, with the consequences that this can entail.

In this sense, diversity is an innovation accelerator, diverse companies attract better talent and diverse teams generate better products and services. Which helps break with the issue raised in the campaign. In addition, it is an opportunity for us to commit to promoting gender equality and diversity, creating a truly inclusive work environment. The great challenge is to make gender equality and diversity an issue for everyone.

Still on the provocation made by the campaign, it is important to understand that the evolution of women in companies – in various positions, from minors to senior positions, is an unstoppable fact, although the challenges to be achieved are still greater than the achievements achieved.

Today, promoting equality and diversity is not just a matter that depends only on companies, but a task that involves everyone, governments and society as a whole. A change in society's culture and global mindset in terms of social roles is needed.



In this text, the purpose was to analyze the CPB London campaign that highlights unconscious gender bias. The campaign is made up of a series of posters that invite the public to simply “imagine” the person taking on a specific role.

In the sequence, the posters ask if we are imagining a man or a woman in the role, as we commented above, the central objective of the campaign is to show how most people are still affected by unconscious gender bias. The theoretical analysis of the research is based on Comtean, Durkheimian and Weberian thoughts.

To this end, the analysis started from how the sexual and social division of labor reproduces gender inequalities, despite the insertion of women in the labor market, we also approach the criticism of stereotypes and gender roles in the workplace, diversity issues and gender equality, the importance of implementing actions that neutralize unconscious reactions and the promotion of gender equality and diversity in companies.

We found that, therefore, it is necessary to adopt more, new and different instruments to overcome, in fact, the effective inequalities. Among the issues on which to intervene, we also highlight gender compartmentalization in the labor market and equal opportunities for access to representative positions and top management in favor of men to the detriment of women. We note that it seems possible to state that, at the origin of this compartmentalization, there are above all cultural stereotypes, unfortunately well rooted, which still affect the attitude adopted in relation to female work and the position of women.

Finally, gender inequality is, on the other hand, a transversal phenomenon that, although in a differentiated way and with a strong dependence on elements of a historical, cultural and religious nature, can be found throughout the social dimension. There is no doubt, therefore, that an incessant “cultural work” is at the base of an indispensable change to weaken and combat this way of thinking.

*Vanderlei Tenorio is a journalist and is studying geography at the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL).

*Felipe Passos Gal is studying journalism at the School of Administration, Marketing and Communication, in Campinas (ESAMC).



ARON, Raymond. The stages of the sociological thinking. Translation by Sérgio Bath. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2003. 579 p.

BANDEIRA, Lourdes Maria. Gender violence: building a theoretical and research field. Society and State, Brasília, v. 29, no. 2, p. 449-469, Aug. 2014.

PEDERSEN, Jean Elizabeth. Sexual politics in Comte and Durkheim: feminism, history, and the French sociological tradition. Translation by Denise Lopes de Souza. Journal of Religious Studies, Sao Paulo, no. 1, p. 186-218, 2006.

MATIAS DOS SANTOS, Vivian. Division of Labour: Complementarity or Conflict?. Urutágua Magazine, Maringá, n.13, p. 01-11, Aug./Sept./Oct./Nov. 2007.

SOUSA, LPD; GUEDES, DR The unequal sexual division of labor: a look at the last decade. Advanced Studies, v. 30, no. 87, p. 123-139, 2016.

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