Gender Roles

  • Margaret S. Winchester


Gender roles are socially prescribed and constructed norms assigned to individuals in societies based on sex differences; these vary across time and place. Roles related to gender can encompass different types of behavior, such as familial, economic, and other societal functions. Gender roles are locally unique and historically situated. Some scholars argue that gender roles are rooted in biological and evolutionary differences between males and females. However, most contemporary scholars recognize that while there are differences between males and females, the corresponding roles for men and women are largely socially constructed. Gender roles are taught through familial, social, and educational instruction and reinforced through relationships, cultural practices, and media. In the context of HIV, culturally prescribed gender roles are important in transmission of infection, experiences of living with the illness, and patterns of help seeking and treatment.


Gender Role Concurrent Partnership Concurrent Sexual Partnership Educational Instruction Unequal Gender 
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Suggested Reading

  1. Bandali, S. (2011). Norms and practices within marriage which shape gender roles, HIV/AIDS risk and risk reduction strategies in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. AIDS Care, 23(9), 1171–1176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Suggested Resources

  1. Pan American Health Organization, & World Health Organization. (2005). Gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS. Available at

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioethics, School of MedicineCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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