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Chapter 7-Gender Inequality-Economic and Political Aspects Nov 19 2008

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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New Society
Chapter 7: Gender Inequality- Economic and Political Aspects
y Social Roles: behaviours that are expected of people occupying particular social positions
Understanding Inequality
Gender Inequality Defined
refers to the
meaning associated with being a man or women, whereas
refers to the
characteristics of men and women
y Gender Stereotypes
y Through parental behaviour, television, movies, etc, children learn to define certain social
behaviours as inherent in being chromosomally male or female
y Gender Stereotypes: by virtue of your physical sex, possess different personality traits and,
as a result, may behave differently and experience the world in different ways
y 1) gender identities, and behaviours are not stable and fixed, 2) gender identities need not to
be congruent with the sex assigned to individuals at birth, 3) gender identities and
behaviours are not polar opposites
y Dimensions of Inequality
y Gender inequalities: hierarchical asymmetries between men and women with respect to the
distribution of power, material well being, prestige
y (1) Power: the capacity to impose you will onto others, regardless of any resistance they
might offer; the capacity to influence, manipulate, control others
y (2) Material Well Being: access to the economic resources necessary to pay for food,
clothing, housing, and other possessions and advantages (work related earning/accumulated
y (3) Prestige: the average evaluation of occupational activities and positions that are arranged
in a hierarchy; reflects degree of respect, honour
Explaining Gender Inequality
y Feminism: the body of thought on the cause and nature of womens disadvantages and
subordinate position in society and to efforts that minimize or eliminate the subordination
y Liberal Feminism: assumes that human beings are rational and will correct inequalities when
they know about them; a good society is one where men and women have equal rights and
opportunities; Gender inequalities are caused and perpetuated by gender stereotyping and
the division of ³women´ and ³mens´ jobs
y To achieve gender equality: (1) removing gender stereotyping and discrimination in
education and paid work force, (2) changing laws so that men and women have equal
opportunities in the labour force/politics
y Marxists Feminism: womens unpaid work in the home maintains and reproduces the labour
y To achieve gender inequality: once socialism replaces capitalism
y Socialist Feminism: gender inequality is caused by the gender division of labour and its
exploitation by capitalism
y (1) social relations oppress women, (2) patriarchy
y To achieve gender inequality: government subsidized maternal benefits and child care,
payment of equal wages and salaries to people who do equally valued work
y Multicultural Feminism: importance of race when understanding gender inequality
y Multiracial Feminism: (1) highlights differences among women in terms of gender inequality,
(2) women of specific races and in certain class locations are positions of power and
domination over other groups of women, (3) solutions; vary according to location
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Exercising Power
y Influence over others and power- twin processes of domination and subordination
y Power pervades all social relations, routine behaviours, and commonly accepted practices
y Sexual harassment is essentially a display of power in which one person attempts to control
and often succeeds in controlling another though sexual overtures
y SH is the result of general belief that men are superior to women and may impose their will
on them
y GI in power also combine with racial inequalities: minority women experience the most
harassment because they are both women and members of a minority group
Separate Spheres
y Late 1800s- 1900s: proper place for women= home
y Public sphere was viewed as the domain for men (head of households)
y Restricting women to the home reduces their access to power, prestige, and material well
y Societal evaluation of work done in the home is not high- ³just a housewife´
y Womens place in the home disadvantages women relative tom men in distribution of
power, prestige, and economic resources
y (1) ppl have tried to eliminate the devaluation of domestic labour, (2) recognition of womens
disadvantages emphasize the entry of women into the public sphere
y Labour Force Participation Rate: the proportion of women of working age who work full-time
for money, expressed %)
Sites of Work
Female Labour-Force Participation
y CDN women cont to work in the home
y Increasingly done work that is paid and usually performed outside the home
y nmarried women in workforce, and women with children
y Explaining the Increase
y Changes in Canadas economy that increased the demand for workers in service jobs
y Decrease in number of children born
y Increase in the financial pressures on families
y Canadas Changing Economy
y Early 1900s: most CDN jobs: agriculture/manufacturing
y 1920s: + jobs became available in firms that provided services, telephone communications,
financial assistance, med care, educational instruction, etc . . .
y Hiring women as teachers and secretaries was also appealing because they could be paid
lower wages than men on the strength of the belief that women were economically
supported by men in their households
y Fertility Decline and Labour Supply
y p fertility: depression 30/40s
y nwomen in the workforce
y Family Finances
y Womens employment had always been an important source of income for low income
y To meet economic needs, many working class women were employed in domestics and in
factories during the late 1800s, early 1900s
y Womens paid employment became an important source of family income for single parent
and two parent families
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