West and Zimmerman's definition of gender is a sociological one which relies on codes and conventions that are at the foundation of everyday activities. "doing gender" means to perform complex societal activities of perception, interaction and of micropolitics which define certain activities and pursuits and either masculine or feminine.
West and Zimmerman argue that gender is a series of traits nor a "role", but rather something which is performed, something which is "done" (hence "doing gender") in a continuing and context-related manner. Gender is established by mean of interaction and is displayed through it, and while appearing as "natural" it is in fact something which is created by an organized social performance.
In viewing gender as an accomplishment, its essence is diverted for intrinsic traits and features to something which is dependent on social interactions and contexts. Gender is also a result of institutionalized functions of society – indeed individuals are the one that are "doing gender", but they do it in the real or imagined presence of others.
Society, through media, particularly advertising, provides the codes by which boys and girls and men and women are taught to perform gender and conform to gendered codes. This is seeing most clearly in television advertising. Sut Jhally below, The Codes of Gender, below applies the late sociologist Erving Goffman's groundbreaking analysis of advertising to the contemporary commercial landscape, showing how one of American popular culture's most influential forms communicates normative ideas about masculinity and femininity. Jhally draws extensively on Goffman's seminal work, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.