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Sociology 2140 Lecture Notes - Cirrhosis, Quid Pro Quo, Canadian Human Rights Act

Course Code
SOC 2140
Paul Whitehead

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Gender Inequality
Sexism- the belief that innate psychological, behavioural and/or intellectual differences
exist between women and men and that these differences connote the superiority of one
group and the inferiority of the other
Such attitudes often result in prejudice and discrimination at both the individual and
institutional levels
Double or triple jeopardy occurs when a person is a member of two or more minority
Gender refers to the social definitions and expectations associated with being female or
Sex- refers to one’s biological identity
The Global Context: The Status of Women and Men
Inequality is not simply conceptual, but a concrete structural denial of health care, food
and social status
Despite some progress, millions of women around the world remain victims of violence,
discrimination and abuse
One specific type of violence suffered by millions of women is female genital mutilation
(FGM), also referred to as female genital cutting (FGC)
In a clitorectomy, the entire glans and shaft of the clitoris are amputated
With infibulation, the two sides of the vulva are stitched together in infancy, leaving only
a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood
After marriage, the sealed opening is reopened to permit intercourse and delivery
FMG correlates with other practices
These include the refusal of condoms in some Roman Catholic communities and the
prevalence of males who have sex outside their marriages
Societies that practice clitorectomy and infibulation do so for a variety of economic,
social and religious reasons
Women’s oppression takes place in culturally complex circumstances; consequently,
women require complex means of challenging and reducing those inequalities
Inequality in Canada
Women have had to fight for equality: the right to vote, equal pay for comparable work,
quality education, entrance into male-dominated occupations, and legal equality
Women have lowers incomes; hold fewer prestigious jobs; remain concentrated in
traditionally female-dominated fields
Sociological Theories of Gender Inequality
Structural-Functionalist Perspective
Argue the pre-industrial society required a division of labour based on gender

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Women, out of biological necessity, remained in the home
Men, who were physically stronger were responsible for providing food, clothing and
This division of labour was functional for society
Criticized by feminists
Industrialization rendered the traditional division of labour less functional
More women work outside the home, and there is greater role variation in the division of
As the needs of society change, the associated institutional arrangements also change
Conflict Perspective
The relationship men and women have to the production process shapes male dominance
and female subordination
Men gained control of the modes of production while women remained in the home to
bear and care for children
Inheritance laws ensured that ownership would remain in men’s hands
World War II necessitated the entry of large numbers of women into the labour force
Many did not return home at war’s end
Although more women are entering into what have been male-dominated fields
Their wages remain lower on the whole
Argue that continued male dominance requires a belief system supporting gender
Two such beliefs are that (1) women are inferior outside the home, (2) women are more
valuable in the home
Conflict theorists hold that the subordinate position of women in society is a consequence
of social inducement rather than biological differences
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Through the socialization process, both females and males are taught the meanings
associated with being feminine and masculine
Gender assignment begins at birth
The learning of gender roles is a lifelong process
We learn gender roles through family, school and peer groups
Feminist Perspectives
Feminist thinking is developed out of and alongside the principles of Enlightenment
thought: autonomy and rights for all citizens, the triumph of reason over superstition and
prejudice, and the inherent value of human persons
Feminists showed that the benefits of women’s subordination accrue principally to men
Roles we are expected to perform as men or as women result from learning the social
expectations of the worlds into which we are born

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Queer Theory Perspectives
Queer scholars have been contesting approaches to gender that take as obvious two
genders and that the two must be defined in opposition to each other
Gender is a form of performance, something that people have to work at in order to
sustain socially meaningful positions as subjects; not something that we have but
something that we learn to do
Based in nothing concrete
Gender Stratification: Structural Sexism
Structural sexism, also known as “institutional sexism,” refers to the ways in which the
organization of society, and specifically its institutions, subordinates individuals and
groups based on their sex classification
Education and Structural Sexism
In Canada, the proportionate number of women with earned university education has
increased noticeably over the past decades
However, women’s representation in advanced graduate degrees remains extremely low
Women’s participation levels in mathematics, engineering and the physical and applied
sciences remain relatively low
Women are socialized to choose marriage and motherhood over long-term career
Men do not see a conflict between having children and having a demanding career
because they are not expected to be the primary caregivers in the family
Because many professions traditionally coded as “male” will pay more highly to those
men who pursue them, individual families will decide that it makes economic sense for
the woman to give up her career aspirations to care for children
Women seeking academic careers may also find that promotion in higher education is
more difficult than it is for men
Income and Structural Sexism
Earnings have increased steadily in each decade for women
More women are working, and more women are working longer hours
Since 1980, the proportion of women workers with a university degree has almost tripled
Even when men and women have identical levels of educational achievement and both
work full time, women, on the average, earn less than men
University-educated women aged 25 to 29 who worked full time all year in 2000 earned
81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts
Earnings can be increased or decreased in a given time period by working more hours or
Often when we look at earnings gaps between men and women, we find that women’s
reduced earnings are related to women’s reduced working hours
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