I was raised in a American culture that values individuality and defined gender norms. Males are expected to be assertive, definitely not shy or experiencing social anxiety, and practice rough and tumble play (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). In western society, behavior is judged. If a male child behaves in a cautious way, they are often rejected by peers (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Males tend to have very specific gender norms that allow very little crossover. It is not considered acceptable to have a boy play with “girl only” toys (i.e. dolls, dresses, make up). This is changing, but the general society does promote gender specific toys and appearance.
Females on the other hand have a little more flexibility. Females have a little more fluidity in their appearance, ranging from feminine clothes (dresses), to more masculine clothes (jeans/tshirt). There can be some pushback from society, but most girls/women are not required to only wear specific articles of clothing. Also, society is more tolerant of girls that act tomboyish, i.e. joining sports and other physical activities. These types of play are often associated with males, who supposedly have superior gross motor skills, while females tend to have better fine motor skills (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
For both genders in western cultures, children are expected to “defend themselves, to negotiate, and to seek fairness for themselves, often with an adult acting as an arbitrator (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).” Essentially the children are expected to problem solve as a group under guidance. There is expected independence for both genders, regardless of societal expectations.
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2015). The life span: Human development for helping professionals. Harlow: Pearson Education.