GGR 124 Lecture notes: Gender and the Suburbs
Side 1 – How is gender connected to urban and suburban spaces?
Slide 2 – Gender revisited
What is gender?
• Gender is a set of social relations that organize people into society
• Gender is performed based on socially accepted ideas of masculinity and
Socially accepted ideas of:
Masculinity: short hair, facial hair, dress code, masculine language
Femininity: hair length and color, make-up, clothes, caring roles
We act out these ways of being based on a spectrum of ‘socially accepted’ideas of
femininity and masculinity.
These performances are not necessarily tied to your biological identity (sex) as male or
female. Therefore a man can act very feminine but his masculine identity maybe
questioned and he may be assumed to be queer since he doesn’t fit the normative role
what a male ought to act like.
The social construction of gender means that we often assume a normative gender code
based on how we should act in society.
Gender and scale
The construction of gender is a geographical one because gender takes place at varying
Example 1: the body: we use the scale/site of the body to perform our gender with the
clothes we wear, language we use, acts of sexuality
Example 2: the household: a key site/scale that reproduces ideas of masculinity and
femininity. This is the scale where normative gender roles takes place (women often take
on the caring roles and domestic work in the household)
Historically based on socially constructed gender norms, we have what is called a gender
contract which is the relationship that men and women have in order to maintain a
household. This is also known as the breadwinner model – where the man has
historically supported the household with paid work done outside of the home and
women supporting the household with the unpaid work done inside the home.
1 The scale of the household reproduces the idea that women’s roles (performances) are
tied to the domestic/unpaid work/ caring roles.
Slide 3 – Gender and the urban
This separation between gender roles discussed in the household is also called the
gendered division of labour.
At the scale of the urban, ideas about gender are also reproduced.
The city functions in part through the economy which requires production of surplus
value and requires labour (paid work)
-Surplus value/profits/income through paid work is historically associated with men’s
roles within a capitalist system
The city also functions because of the unpaid labour of women which we call social
-In order for production to take place (and income to be generated) workers need to be
made, fed, washed, reared and educated – this is how society and labour is reproduced,
through the unpaid labour of women
-The other half of the functioning capitalist city is often invisible, laboured for free,
mostly by women
Slide 4 – Gender and work
Overtime we’re seeing a modest increase in men’s participation in social reproduction
(unpaid work in the household)
However overall, men still spend more hours per day engaging in paid work than unpaid
work and women still conform to the gender contract, performing as many hours of
unpaid work as paid work
See the graph
Slide 5 – Gender and unpaid work
Overtime there is a pattern of men doing slightly more housework but no more childcare,
which is matched by the trend that women are still doing the same amount of childcare
and slightly less housework.
See the graph
2 Slide 6 –
As the distance from the city for a household increases (further from the central business
district and closer to the suburbs), the amount of unpaid housework increases too.
Likely because: houses are bigger which requires more domestic housework, families are
bigger which requires more childcare
See the graph
Slide 7 – Labour force participation
Labour force (LF) participation means that you are actively working or looking for work
Women are less likely to be in the LF than men primarily because the gender contract still
applies. More men are in the paid labour market while more women are at home doing
-Until 24 yrs old (before childrearing years) males and females have the same the same
LF rates. After 25yrs – 65+yrs there is about a ten percent difference in LF rates between
men and women
See the graph
Slide 8 – Distance to work
Other factors that influence women’s roles as caregivers is the location of work.
Women’s unpaid labour will affect her labour choices ability to be in the LF
Women are also likely to travel fewer kilometres to get to work because of childcare
responsibilities, daycare/school drop-off
Women’s mode of transportation is also going to affect her work options. In general,
women in Toronto have less access to a vehicle as a primary driver, and they’re more
likely to use public transportation than men which further limit their options for work
See the graph
Slide 9 – Women and pay
What is the result of the connections between women’s paid and unpaid work patterns?
Women earn less pay even for the same job and hours
• The wage gap between males and females was 21% in Canada in 2005
• Women aged 25 to 29 employed on a full-time, full-year basis earned 85
cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts
• Women aged 50 to 54, the ratio amounted to just 72 cents
Author of this week’s chapter, G Werkerle found that in Canada the difference is as low
as 64% of men’s earning