Gender norms

Gender norms are the often unspoken expectations of the social environment towards a person and include assumptions of difference between the sexes/genders. Since these norms are produced through everyday interpersonal interactions, sex/gender is understood as socially constructed. In addition to assumptions about difference, gender norms also include assumptions about a hierarchy in which men are usually ascribed a higher position than women. These constructed assumptions of inequality support hierarchical relations of power and domination between the sexes/genders which contradict the principle of equal treatment. They lead to unequal opportunities for participation between the sexes/genders and promote discrimination.


  • Heise L, Greene ME, Opper N, Stavropoulou M, Harper C, Nascimento M, et al. Gender inequality and restrictive gender norms: framing the challenges to health. Lancet (London, England). 2019;393(10189):2440-54.