The oxford English dictionary states that "the words gender and sex both have the sense 'the state of being male or female', but they are typically used in slightly different ways: sex tends to refer to biological differences, while gender tends to refer to cultural or social ones". This quote points out that while gender and sex are similar; and often the meanings are confused, they are developed in different ways.
Gender is important to a child's self image and identity; the gender role a child acquires depends heavily on the society the child matures in. In a modern western society media has a major influence on the development of children's understanding of gender roles and of their own gender identities. As Helen Ingham discusses on her report on children, television and gender roles television is the main source of media children receive, she points out that statistics say they watch up to 7 hours a day, and what they see can not only affect how they perceive themselves now but also the way they act and the way they expect others to act around and towards them.
Also media can dictate the roles adults have and could easily affect the expectations children have about their future adult role; if, for example, nurses on television are always female then this could dissuade boys from wanting to take on a nursing role as an adult because they do not believe it fits in with what society expects from them; they want to be seen in a more macho light. Perhaps if all nurses on television were male this point of view would change? Unfortunately, as Ingham also points out, television is not the only influence on gender expectations, or it could be far more easily monitored. Everything we come...