By Itumeleng Lipala
A gender stereotype is a widely held belief or generalization about the behavior and characteristics attributed to women and men. Females are often portrayed as being the weaker sex; emotional and vulnerable while men are often characterized by traits such as strength, rational and career driven. Gender stereotypes are complex and exists everywhere in the world and are highly enforceable in the families and communities we live in. Many people grow up learning what constitutes female and male behavior and their respective roles from their families, friends, society, media and institutions like schools and religious bodies.
Gender stereotypes can have an adverse effect on children from a very tender age, young people find themselves often exposed to conversations about how boys and girls should look, behave, play and divide various chores in the household. Gender stereotypes shape self-perception, attitudes to relationship and influence participation in the workplace. The assumptions made about boys and girls may be conscious or unconscious and can result in those genders being treated differently or offered different opportunities based on their sex.
People should stop disseminating stereotypical ideas about men and women in the labour market; men are often associated with manual work, automobiles, business and politics, while women are slotted in areas of health care, social services, arts and personal care. However, more and more women are being unleashed in male dominated industries and occupying positions which were previously upheld by men. Research indicates that gender stereotypes may be moderated by cultural values and gender roles in most families. It really empowers young women seeing other women breaking this cycle and dare their stand.
The 21st century is working hard to ensure that there are female bricklayers’ electricians, HVCA workers, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics and taxi drivers. They aim to promote women empowerment and leadership, also breaking the generational mindset. Most women still need to be made aware that they are more than capable of handling the same tasks as men. They can provide for and protect their families as well as men do. “In the olden times, women did not do the kind of jobs mentioned because they deemed to require a lot energy and stamina which are traits attributed to men, society believed that those particular jobs were intended for men only but now we have machinery which assists and simplifies carry out such manual labour tasks. It was not even easy back then to handle those machines due to lack of education but now women are skilled and education in their fields of work. We have women in the carpentry businesses doing the most, absolutely brilliant in their fields.
Keneuoe Motšoari, a 25 years old young lady who was born and bred in Qoaling Maseru, a carpenter by profession. In an interview Motšoari explained that her dream is to become an engineer which is what she is currently studying towards. She is a Bachelor’s in Quantity Survey student in one of the Universities in South Africa. She went to Lerotholi Polytechnic, a technical and vocational school in Maseru to study Construction Management in 2015, Carpentry in 2019 and started working shortly after completing.
Word of advice to all the women out there; “strive for change, work even harder to earn your spot and break this generational cycle. Women need to learn to be supportive of each other, know their worth. Be brave enough to know that they can succeed in all fields despite of their gender and stop selling themselves short. The question I pose to the government of Lesotho and all the construction companies in the country; why are there no/few females in the construction field, do you think they are not good at their jobs or worthy of working there? I am asking this because there are lots of qualified yet unemployed women in construction, I mean even in construction companies leaded by a woman, why is that? Questioned Motšoari.