Notions of masculinity and femininity are woven throughout the play. Walter, in particular, feels his socio-economic situation much more strongly given that he’s supposed to be the "man" of the family. He uses manhood as an argument for why his wife should support him, why his mother should give him money, and why he needs a better career. The play also represents various women: the traditional Mama, the supportive Ruth, and the progressive Beneatha, who are alternately praised or demeaned for their adherence or disobedience to traditional feminine standards.
Socially-enforced norms and expectations regarding masculinity cause Walter to feel inferior.