Gender Roles in America and Abroad

April 7, 2009

Project Learn’s ESOL Conversations class is not your ordinary English For Speakers of Other Languages course. In this class, students already understand the English language, but need to work on their conversational skills.

It’s hard to interview for a job or make friends when you can’t engage in a conversation, but this class addresses these issues. We try to help the students become familiar with English idioms and get comfortable living in America by learning how to speak American English.

Below is a video of a few students discussing the roles of men and women in their home countries. From China to Puerto Rico, they discuss the roles and responsibilities of men and women in the home and abroad, the perceptions of an angry woman, and how men dress determine how they are perceived by others.


It was interesting to see that even though the students were instructed to answer questions based on their native countries, their answers were more similar to thoughts and ideas in America than different.

This may be my personal opinion, but I have noticed that in America:

  • Men who were pink are considered to have female qualities or thought of as “gay.”
  • Women are expected to keep care of the children and house, while men make money to take care of his family. In some cases, women take care of responsibilities at home in addition to working.
  • Women who appear angry in public are perceived more negatively than men. However, it is OK for women to cry in public. When men cry publicly, they are labeled as “soft” or too sensitive.
  • In my educational career, the majority of teachers in my elementary and middle schools were female. In college, I had more male teachers. This is similar to what Xi Gi observed in China.
  • Although it appears as if women talk much more than men, a recent study showed that men talk as much as women… depending on the topic. The study showed that both sexes speak about 16,000 words a day.

Although this may seem like a simple discussion, if English is not your native language, it’s pretty tough.  It’s easier for the students to talk about issues and topics that are familiar to them. By doing this, students are more likely to feel at ease when speaking in public and having conversations with fluent English speakers.

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