Gender Lecture SOC220F November 1, 13 – Study Notes
Despite this major change, it begs the question of whether or not women’s increased labour participation has led to
a reduction of income inequality between men and women?
Short answer: NO.
• Gender segregation in the labour market (cultural devaluation of women’s work)
• Differential pay for some jobs (discrimination and prejudice)
Discussion question: Will we ever see the gender wage gap close entirely?
• Women are moving into ‘male’ jobs, not the other way around
• (1) Would need to see an equal distribution of men and women in ALL occupations
• (2) Though policy initiatives, levels of pay would need to be adjusted in diff. industries
Gender versus sex? Why distinguish the two? Is being male or female an ascribed characteristic?
Sex is ascribed at birth
Gender and gender roles are socially constructed – roles that are considered ‘ideal’ or appropriate behaviour for a
man or woman (Change over time and across societies)
Simone de Bauvoire
o “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”
o Argued that women have been defined purely in relation to men and not as autonomous beings
o Her goal was the right of women to express themselves as individuals
Social construction: if gender is socially constructed it is amenable to change
o What we think are male and female traits are constructed by society
o gender ‘roles’ and ‘norms’ are social constructs, and subject to change
¤ The Bechdel Test: test of gender biases.
For a movie to pass this test, it must contain one scene in which:
1) two named women;
2) talk to each other;
3) about something besides a man;
Notable movies that fail: The social network; harry potter; avatar; the original star wars trilogy; lord of the rings
o 163 movies in 2012 failed the Bechdel test.
Why Gender Inequality Persists
¤ 3 perspectives: conservative, liberal, radical
o Conservative (biological determinism)
• Women are biologically inferior to men
• Skull size, intelligence, brain function
• Since the gender division of labour exists, it must serve some need for society
• This is biologically rooted
o Liberal view (culture is the cause)
• The effect of gender varies by culture
• The main source of gender inequality is socialization
Ex: parents treat their boys and girls differently
Men and women simply enact social roles that they are expected to fulfill
o Radical (structural and Marxists analysis)
• Gender is rooted in material conditions
• Patriarchy: rule by men
Men are the main beneficiaries It can be sustained by legal and cultural institutions
• There’s unequal power distribution in the classical family
• Marxism: the intersection of class and gender
Three levels to changing inequality
Level 1: To Acknowledge women
• Most early sociological theories and empirical work ignored women
General theory was actually gendered theory
o Empirical studies still often focus on men
o Focus on women today is seen as ‘special interest’ but is changing (slowly)
Level 2: Examine gender inequality
o Move beyond adding women to the analysis, to an attempt to theorize gender
o Does not abandon class, but looks at the interplay between class an gender
Three perspectives on this relationship:
1) Patriarchy and capitalism are not autonomous, not even interconnected, but the same system. “Class is
gendered, and gender is classed”
2) (1) societal structures produce gender inequality; (2) how does this structure influence capitalism?
3) As forms of ‘gendered class’; Gender exists; capitalism and labour markets exists; how do they intersect?
Level 3: Intersectionality
Intersectionality – the