SOC 2280 Lecture Notes - Unpaid Work, Gender Inequality, Human Capital
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Gender Stratification in the US
• Gender Stratification refers to males’ and females’ unequal access to scarce societal resources (power,
wealth, and prestige) on the basis of sex; sociologists consider women to be a minority group because of
they possess far less of these valued resources than men.
• Gender Inequality in the Workplace
- Gender Segregated Work
- Gender Differences in Promotion and Authority
- The Gender Wage Gap in Earnings
• Gender Inequality in Education
• Gender Inequality in Politics and Government
• Gender Inequality in Other Social Realms
• Gender Wage Gap – the discrepancy between average earning of men and women; today, full-time
women earn, on average between 65 and 72 cents for every dollar earned by a man, even in the same
• Glass Ceiling – the hidden barriers that block the way to the top for women and racial minorities
Explaining Gender Stratification
1) The functionalist perspective of gendered inequality emphasizes the sex-linked requirements for
collective survival. Women and men are seen as performing necessary and complimentary roles.
• Traditional gender roles (men performing instrumental tasks and women performing expressive tasks)
are viewed as important not only for the individual but also for the economic and social order of society.
Failure to maintain the traditional division of labor is believed to lead to destruction of family life as well
as higher rates of crime, violence, and drug abuse.
2) Human capital theorists claim that sex differences in promotion rates are due to sex differences in
commitment, education, and experience; women are believed to have less to offer employers. Even if
these differences exist, this position ignores the fact that women are in a system of inequality, where
social expectations prevent them from having qualifications that are similar to men.
• Other neoclassical economic model attribute the wage gap to such factors as:
a) the different amounts of energy that men and women expend on their work
b) occupational choices made by men and women
c) the crowding of too many women into some occupations
3) The conflict perspective emphasizes men’s control over scarce resources. The gendered division of