Gender as a construct has been the topic of a mass debate in recent years and has always been a topic in the world of art. Gender in the instance of this post is merely being discussed in the context of what the "roles" are and how they have been tackled in the realm of art. The genders of art have always had a canon, most notably in Ancient Egyptian art.
In Ancient Egypt, before and after the rule of Akhenaten in the 18th dynasty (which ended circa 1336 BC), the depiction of male pharaohs were blocky, with them having sharp and angular features. They were often rigid in a standing pose or in a pose that depicted power such as the pharaohs participating in the hunt or in war. The women were depicted with softer, more rounded features that were also more fluid. The period of Akhenaten's rule is considered an upheaval of old traditions and canons as the art portrayed men and women with soft, rounded features and in more fluid poses.
After the end of the 18th dynasty, canon returned to status quo and men and women began to be portrayed in different canons once more. These canons traversed the ages and are still prevalent in art today, though the canons have be subverted and inversed many a time in character design depending on the characters'...well character.
The performance and observance of gender roles is what led to the creation of canons in the art of not only Ancient Egypt, but other ancient civilizations as well. Women, while they took care of the home and families were seen as subservient and objects of desire and lust by the men and thus presented as such in the art of the time.
However, those roles as they were are not what they are now in entirety. In works, series and standalone pieces, of TV shows, movies, books, and comic books the gender roles of women have began to encompass much more than the maternal, subservient tropes. Women in media, and in real life, are portrayed as super heroines, lawyers, scholars, doctors, detectives, vigilantes, so forth and so on.
“Gender.” Ancient Egypt, www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/gender.htm.
Gordon, Aqualus. “The Stigma of Masculinity.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Oct. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-brothers-keeper/201410/the-stigma-masculinity.
Kranzberg, Nancy. “Portrayal Of Women In The Visual Arts Throughout The Ages.” St. Louis Public Radio, 6 June 2014, news.stlpublicradio.org/post/portrayal-women-visual-arts-throughout-ages#stream/0.
McLaughlin, Elise. “The Art of the Amarna Period.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 22 Sept. 2017, www.ancient.eu/article/1110/the-art-of-the-amarna-period/.