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Sociology Chapter 7.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2140
Paul Whitehead

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 groups  Gender refers to the social definitions and expectations associated with being female or male  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  Women, out of biological necessity, remained in the home  Men, who were physically stronger were responsible for providing food, clothing and shelter  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 labour  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 inequality  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 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 preparation  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 fewer  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  Wage gaps exist where there are actual differences in pay for men and women  While the wage gap narrows when women pursue occupations that are most commonly chosen by men, a gap still exists  Wage gap is widespread and exists in all occupational categories  The only occupation in which women earn more than men is in social work  When men works in fields dominated by women, with the exception of social work, they earn more than the women do  Devaluation hypothesis- women are paid less because the work they perform is socially defined as less valuable than the work performed by men  These jobs are undervalued in part because they include a significant amount of emotional labour: work that involves caring, negotiating and empathizing with people  Human capital hypothesis argues that female-male pay differences are a function of differences in women’s and men’s levels of education, skills, training, and work experience  More support for the devaluation hypothesis  Comparable worth refers to the belief that individuals in occupations, even in different occupations, should be paid equally if the job requires “comparable” levels of education, training and responsibility  Almost one-fifth of the wage gap reflected the fact that women generally have less experience than their male counterparts  Organizational variables (characteristics of the business, corporation, or industry) explain, in part, the gender income gap Work and Structural Sexism  Women are also more likely to hold positions of little or no authority within the work environment  No matter what the job, if a woman does it the work is likely to be valued less than if a man does it  Concentration of women in certain occupations and men in other occupations is referred to as occupational sex segregation  Men are more evenly distributed across a larger range of occupations  Women are still heavily represented in low-prestige, low-wage, pink-collar jobs  A glass ceiling- an invisible barrier that prevents women and other minorities from moving into top corporate positions- often victimizes even those women in higher paying jobs  Sex segregation in occupations continues for several reasons  First, cultural beliefs about what is an appropriate job for a man or a woman still exist  Men exhibited significantly more negative attitudes toward women as managers than did the women  Because of gender socialization, men and women learn different skills and acquire different aspirations  Opportunity structures and expectations for men and women also vary  Since family responsibilities remain primarily with women, working mothers may feel pressure to choose professions that permit flexible hours and career paths Politics and Structural Sexism  While the 1917 Wartime Election Act granted wives, sisters and mothers of servicemen the right to vote, it was not until 1918 that Canadian women won the right to vote in federal elections  These rights were first granted to white women; women from certain other ethnic groups did not receive the franchise until later  Women hold no more than 8% of ministerial positions in any developing country  In response to the underrepresentation of women in the political arena, some countries have institutionalized quotas  In general, the more important the political office, the lower the probability a woman will hold it  Running for office requires large sums of money, the political backing of powerfully individuals and interest groups, and a willingness of the voting public to elect women  Minority women have even greater structural barriers to election and, not surprisingly, represent an even smaller percentage of elected officials  In 1991, Zanana Akande was the first Black woman to be elected to the Ontario legislature Human Rig
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