Hello ladies and gentlemen! How is it going? This week we´re going to talk about the changing roles of men an women in History, a topical issue. Women´s demand for equal rights began in the early 20th century, but it still continues. Imagine you have to talk about this in an exam. What´s your opinion about the roles of the sexes? What vocabulary do you know about that? Go on and read this post.


The roles of the sexes were clearly defined until the last century in the majority of the countries in the world. Generally speaking, women were considered inferior to men. They had to do the housework and bring up the children. Men were the breadwinners and they held important positions in society (they were politicians, scientists, lawyers, doctors, etc.)

However, women´s demand for equal rights is a recent phenomenon. It began when, thanks to the suffragists, they won the right to vote in the 20th century. Shortly after that, they began to go out to work and since the 1980´s has been a rise in the divorce rate as women are more independent financially.

Despite the advances, most people think that we still live in a male-dominated society and we have to fight against sexist comments and attitudes.

The thing is, what vocabulary can you use when talking about this topic in an exam? Go on, and read the following expressions.


*Breadwinner: the person who earn the money.

*Discrimination: treating one person or group worse than others.

*Divorce rate: the amount of divorces in relation to a unit of another thing.

*Feminine: to dress and behave like a woman.

*Feminist: a person who advocates for equal rights for women.

*Grumble: complain.

*Husband-to-be: future husband (= wife-to-be).

*Look after: take care of.

*Macho society: male-dominated society where sexism is common.

*Partner: a husband, wife or lover.

*Re-marry: marry again.

*Role: the proper function of a person.

*Sexism: the unfair treatment of people because of their sex.

*Tie the knot (informal): get married.

*X-years itch: a married person´s feeling of being bored with their partner after X years.


*Women´s demand for equal rights.

*Encouraged to be more politically correct.

*Do their share of the housework and childcare

*Be a victim of sexual discrimination.

*Suffer from discrimination.




*Clean the car.

*Walk the dog.

*Do the shopping.

*Sweep the floor.

*Mop the floor.



*Do the washing up.

*Dry the dishes.

*Lay the table.


*Make the bed.

*Tidy up.

*Do the laundry.


Jobs related to health care and children have been traditionally related to women. Here you have some examples:


*Au pair.



However, other jobs have been traditionally related to men. For example:





To specify the gender of the workers, you can use the words ‘male’ or ‘female’. For example: ‘female nurse’, ‘male nurse’, ‘female farmer’, ‘male farmer’. But gender can be specified in other ways. Look at the information below.

*Male: policeman, salesman, fireman, air steward, headmaster, post woman.

*Female: policewoman, saleswoman, air stewardess, headmistress, post man.

*Neutral: police officer, salesperson, firefighter, flight attendant, headteacher, mail deliver.

And here you have some words that can be considered offensive to women and a neutral alternative for each.

*Manpower: workforce.

*Undermanned: understaffed, without staff.

*Man-hours: working hours.

*Man-made: manufactured, artificial, synthetic.

*Mankind: human race, humanity, humankind.


And finally, let´s talk about idioms. Here you have some idioms related to men and women.

*’A woman´s work is never done’.

*’No use to man or beast’.

*’Every man for himself’.

*’As one man’.

*’Old wives tale’.



And that´s all for today. Isn´t this topic food for thought? What are the most male-dominated professions in your country? Which jobs, if any, do you feel women do better than men and vice versa?

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