A paradigm is a belief structure about the ways men and women should act and the roles they should perform (Gamble, p. 19). Although many paradigm shifts have occurred (i.e. it is more acceptable these days for a woman to ask a man on a date), gender norms are still evident almost everywhere you go. We discussed in class what artifacts influence our perceptions of what is appropriate for men and women, or our paradigm. An artifact which we may have become numb to, yet is hammered into our brains nearly every day, is the signs for the men and women’s bathrooms. Nearly every public restroom is identified as for men or women by a sign similar to the one posted below. Although the sign may look pretty gender neutral, it still defines women by what they wear because the female is distinguished by wearing a dress. Women’s appearances often define who they are, and our paradigms still include the idea that men and women should dress differently. Though modern women can wear pants, signs such as the bathroom identifications still enforce the idea that women are defined by the femininity of their outfits.


Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Link to restroom sign.