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Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

In the contemporary world the role of stereotypes and gender roles associated with the gender-related stereotypes are still quite strong. Nonetheless, many specialists attempt to analyze the recent social trends reveal the impact of such stereotypes on individuals’ behavior and psychology and find possible ways to minimize possible negative effects of these stereotypes. In this respect, it should be pointed out that the work of Gladwell seems to be particularly important since she attempts to rationalize the existing stereotypes and view gender roles critically. In such a situation, it seems to be quite important to discuss the currently existing gender roles and stereotypes, which are often imposed to the wide audience by means of the contemporary media, in the context of Gladwell’s concept of creativity.

First of all, it should be pointed out that in the modern world creativity is getting to be one of the key issues which is of a paramount importance for individuals’ development and their successful social life. It means that nowadays creativity becomes something more important than just a process of creative activity but it is also a tool that can define individuals’ behavior, influence their actions and change their views to the extent that they can overcome the existing biases, including such serious ones as gender roles and gender-related stereotypes.

At this point, it is worthy of mention that Gladwell defines creativity as being able to access the output of individuals automatic neurological processes. Moreover, according to the author it is the gut feeling, the haunch and the immediate decision people make without any collection of data that determines their actions (Gladwell 1999).

At the same time, it should be said that in the modern world such a concept of creativity seems to be dominating. As the numerous researches show the decisions people take or choices they make are often illogical or, at any rate, they are not rationally motivated. Instead, often people make their choices under the impact of emotions, feelings, or intuition that can be partially understood as creativity in Gladwell’s interpretation.

In actuality, it is quite to find evidences of such a trend. In this respect, it is worthy to refer to researches concerning the impact of advertising on females, their decision and choices. It is not a secret that many media, including magazines and television target at a concrete audience and, as Busby and Leichty (1993) underline, the female audience had become particularly important as a target audience of advertising since the mid-20th century. As a result, the advertisers attempt to influence the female audience by means of affecting their emotional conscience. In such a situation, advertisers simply create certain gender stereotypes or simply exaggerate the existing ones in order to predetermine the choices and preferences of the female audience by means of influencing their emotional sphere (Klassen et al 1993).

In this respect, the promotion of Barbie dolls may be viewed as one of the best examples of the successful advertising aiming at the female audience, which, actually, did not simply influenced female emotions through exploitation of the existing gender roles and stereotypes but also contributed dramatically to the development of new ones (Manganaro 1996). It is necessary to underline that the impact of media, especially advertising, is very strong and nowadays media and advertising the audience since the early ages of the development that can predetermine the further gender roles and stereotypes. For instance, Helga Dittmar (2006) emphasizes that the impact of Barbie dolls and their advertisement can produce a profound effect on the forming conscience of girls at very early age of 5 to 8.

In the result of the promotion and advertising of Barbie dolls girls can develop erroneous views on gender roles and womanhood at large. At the same time, it is necessary to indicate at the unconscious impact of such advertisement and its effect on emotional sphere since the advertisements and formed gender stereotypes are basically not evaluated rationally that is extremely important in views of Gladwell.

However, it is necessary to agree that the effect of advertising and creation of such icons’ as Barbie dolls can be different and depend on local culture and stereotypes dominating in a particular society. For instance, MacDougal underlines that even such a universally accepted icon’ as Barbie doll is viewed differently in Mexico and acquires local peculiarities (), though it is worthy of mention that the views differ in form but not in principle. It means that by means of promotion and advertising gender roles and stereotypes are equally strong in different countries and impose certain models of behavior and lifestyle but with slight peculiarities depending on the local culture. And again, such impact is rather unconscious or subconscious than rational.

Finally, it is necessary to say that many specialists (Furham and Bitar 1993, McAllister 1996) believe that the impact of media and advertising on the development stereotypes that define gender roles and the position of females as well as their self-perception is growing and involves different spheres and accompanies practically all aspects of the modern life and females are still in a disadvantageous position, to a significant extent, because of their primarily emotional perception than rational evaluation of the information they regularly perceive from the surrounding world.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the role of stereotypes in the formation of gender roles is still quite strong. These gender roles define the lifestyle and behavior of many females as often it is women that are the target of such stereotypes. Moreover, modern media and advertising affect females dramatically as they are the target audience and create new stereotypes and define gender roles which are perceived by females basically on the emotional level while rational sphere often remains uninvolved in the process of perception and critical evaluation of the external information which actually creates stereotypes and gender roles, which, in their turn, shape females’ conscience. In such a situation, it is extremely important that females would have managed to overcome the existing stereotypes and gender roles by means of the wider use of rational and critical approach to the perception of the surrounding reality at large and information from media and advertising in particular. In the result of the use of such approach they will be able to overcome the existing social biases.

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