Thinking about Gender & Work: The Basics
Structure and Agency
A simple way to put it is: Individual people make choices in their work lives, but under social conditions
that they themselves did not choose
structural factors play a huge role for the type of choices that are available to make. For example, the
state of the economy affects what choices you can make.
Individuals do have choice and agency, however, it is constrained.
For sociologists, the choice of an individual is not a satisfactory explanation for why someone is a cleaner
or a trader, a steel maker or a stay at home mom; or whether one is a temporary or a permanent
employee, or works part-time or full-time
constrained choices is basically making choices within a structure that constrain their options. This is the
interaction between structure and agency.
Sex versus Gender
Based on chromosomal differences, hormonal differences
based on physical appearance and observed behaviours
An example of this is that runner named Castro who was judged for her sex because she had too much
testosterone even though she identified herself as a female.
How others perceive you and treat you and based on that perception
How you behave based on gender identity and social perceptions
Social Construction, Interaction
o masculinity and femininity social constructions . example - the color pink was associated with
boy but now it is obviously for girls now. Secretary was male dominated but obviously not
anymore - changes because of social construction and institutionalization of gender
o We create gender,and a world of 2 sexes, it is embedded in our every day. Because it is
pervasive, it gets institutionalized. We naturalize assumptions.
o Gender is a performance.
o Institutionalization - implanted in jobs. When you think firefighter, you think male. How doing
gender get built into state, family, work.
WORK and GENDER- Unpaid and Paid
One’s gender makes a difference in all domains of one’s life
IE gender has effects in the workplace
In particular, it leads to gender inequality in aspects of work.This is the outcome of gender discrimination
What are the forms of gender inequality in the workplace?
What are the causes?
What can be done about it? (remedies)
Why are those remedies often resisted?
What can be done about overcoming the resistance to remedies for gender inequality?
IE gender has effects on how we think about the family and the division of household labour
In particular, it leads to inequalities in the division of household labour and childcare This is the outcome of i) the ways we construct gender and organize individuals based on gendered ideologies;
choices are also involved
1. How did paid work come to be defined as male?
2. Why do women continue to do the majority of housework/childcare even though the majority of women now
work for pay?
3. How do class and race/ethnicity intersect with gender to influence family forms, the division of housework,
and paid work?
Many young women believe that: Gender inequali