Sociology of Gender and Work
Possible Questions for Mid-Term Exam
Below is a list of possible questions for the mid-term exam. Not all of these questions
will be on the mid-term, but I will choose questions for the mid-term from here. Please
note, the wording of the questions may change, but these are the general themes that will
You will be required to answer three questions from Part 1 and one from Part 2.
Possible Questions, Part I
1. What is meant by the term “sexual division of labour” ? Provide two different
explanations for what causes this division.
a. Sexual division of labour are used in recognition that, historically and
currently there are marked differences between women and men in
responsibilities for and the performance of the tasks necessary for daily
living in a family household.
i. After industrialisation, the ‘traditional’ domestic division of labour
is that in which the men have primary responsibility for the
necessary financial provision of their family; they work outside the
home for pay
ii. Women have primary responsibility for the management and
performance of housework and caring work; this work is unpaid
According to Jane Pilcher and Imelda Wehelehan the domestic or house hold
division of labour refers to the distribution between family members and
those responsibility and tasks necessary for the ongoing maintenance of
domestic home and of the people who live in it. sometimes the concepts of
sexual division of labour or the gendered division of labour are used in
recognition that historically and culturally especially in western industrial
societies there are market differences between women and men
responsibilities and for and the performance of the tasks necessary for daily
living in a family household.
According to M thea sincliar inequality between women’s and men’s position
result from and is perpetuated by a complex combination of factors. There
are interrelationships between the different factors. Such factors include not
only material variables such as wages but also range of ideological
determinants among which gender is particularly important. There are
various theories in regards to what causes this division.
First there are neo classical economic theories of the family which
argue that a traditional gendered division of labor is the most rational and
therefore efficient as far as the family is concerned.
Second there are sociological theories that argue that individual norms
or preferences are more significant in determining women’s employment
Drawing on theories of human capital economics have argued that women’s
choice to specialize in domestic work and men’s choice to specialize in
market work are economically rational as far as the family unit is concerned.
Others argue that major explanation of these male / female differences
can be explained based on their biological difference. as well as other people
who argue that Contemporary women’s employment patterns are
consequence of their individual choice rather than any constrains arising from
the nature of employment and or other structural factors .
2. According to Marxist feminists, what is the relationship between patriarchy and
a. Della Costa
i. Argued that domestic DOL benefits capitalism
1. How? Unpaid housework and caring work replenish labour
power on a daily and generational basis and in this way
contributing to the production of surplus value, sustain the
i. Argued that before the development of capitalism, a patriarchal
system was established in which men controlled the labour power
of women and children in the family. Through this, men learned
the techniques of hierarchical organisation and control which, as
capitalism developed they then used to segregate paid work to their
1. because women earn lower wages then men, it keeps
women dependent on because they encourage women to
marry. And once women get married they are required to
do domestic chores for their husbands, and this in turn
weakens women’s position in the labour market.
ii. Hartmann says there is a ‘mutual accommodation’ between
patriarchy and capitalism, which causes the ‘vicious circle’ of
disadvantage for women.
c. Delphy and Leonard (focus on patriarchy in their explanations of DDOL)
i. They claim that women’s continuing subordination in western
society is due in large measure to men’s exploitation of women’s
domestic labour and that women oppression is directly beneficial
to men and perhaps only indirectly beneficial to capitalism.
1. According to Delpy and Leonard, the work done by women
for men within family relationships take place within a
domestic or patriarchal ‘mode of production.’ Men exploit
women’s unpaid domestic labour and benefit directly from
i: they do not take responsibility for or perform much of the
routine and never-ending domestic work themselves; and
they by gain an advantage in the labour market.
Marxist feminist place gendered construction of reproductive labour at the
center of women’s oppression. They point out that the labor is performed
disproportionately by women and is essential to the industrial economy. yet
because it takes place mostly outside the market, it is invisible not
recognized as real work. Men benefit directly and indirectly from this
arrangement. directly in that they contribute less labor in the home while
enjoying the services women provide as wives, mothers and indirectly in that
freed of domestic labor they can concentrate their efforts in paid
employment and attain primacy in that area. thus the sexual division of
reproductive labor in the home interacts with and reinforces sexual division in
the labour market.
It is essential to keep in mind that the concept of reproductive labor
originated in karl Marx remark that every system of production involves both
the production of the necessities of life and reproduction of tools and labor
power necessary for production. Prior to industrialization both
production and reproduction were organized around the household level.
Women were responsible for most of what might be designated as
reproduction, but they were simultaneously engaged in the production of
foodstuffs, clothing, shoes ects. However, with industrialization production of
these basic goods gradually was taken over by capitalist industry production,
and resulted in the ideological separation between men’s productive labor
and women’s non market based activity. An idealize division of labor arose in
which men’s work was to follow production outside the home, while women’s
work was to remain centered in the household. Furthermore, all these
resulted that women stay at home and do the domestic work at home while
men work outside of home and earned income, eventually the fact that they
were the ones who earned income allowed them to enter higher level
positions and women were at the bottom.
3. What is the “glass ceiling”? What is the “glass escalator”? According to your
readings, what are some causes of these phenomena? Provide examples for each.
-Glass ceiling – women looking up at the glass ceiling without begin able
to move up, looking at men doing the jobs e.g., CEO
-Glass escalator – men being easily promoted compared; women cant get
ahead in male dominated jobs, but males can get ahead in female dominated
fields e.g., teaching
According to Rosemary cromption in “Gender and work “argue that
organization are far from being gender natural, organization are in fact
gendered. Furthermore, bureaucratic hierarchy are inherently masculine,
embodying qualities of dominance, hierarchy, and abstract rationality. Thus
feminine qualities are not appreciated or effective in regards to career
success in masculine organizational context. Furthermore, practices within
organizations maintain gendered hierarchy.
In addition, Christine Willimans in her article “ The Glass escalator : Hidden
advantages for men in the female profession argued that it is extremely rare
to find specific jobs where equal members of men and women are engaged in
Below is a list of possible questions for the mid-term exam. Not all of these questions will be on the mid-term, but i will choose questions for the mid-term from here. Please note, the wording of the questions may change, but these are the general themes that will be covered. You will be required to answer three questions from part 1 and one from part 2. According to m thea sincliar inequality between women"s and men"s position result from and is perpetuated by a complex combination of factors. Such factors include not only material variables such as wages but also range of ideological determinants among which gender is particularly important. There are various theories in regards to what causes this division. First there are neo classical economic theories of the family which argue that a traditional gendered division of labor is the most rational and therefore efficient as far as the family is concerned.