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SOC101Y1 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Gender Inequality, Wage Labour, Institutional Racism

Course Code
Robert Brym
Study Guide

of 56
Sociology Test #3
**This chapter has a lot of overlap from chapter 4 and 6**
Near 1920s, women’s rights were limited to household work (in extreme cases, women were merely
considered property of men)
Social Roles: Behaviours that are expected of people occupying particular social positions. In 1950s,
women’s social roles were those of wives and mothers.
Rapid change has occurred over time that has led to blurring the line between the powers of men and
Divorce laws revised in 1968 – Allowed women to divorce unfair husbands and led to increased
Feminist groups rise and consisting mainly of educated professional women, make strong
impact in making females realize their right to equality with men
However a changed world does not mean an equal world: gender inequality still exists and the
revolutions have not completely finished
Understanding Gender Inequality
Social scientists refer to inequalities between women and men as “gender inequalities” rather than “sex
Gender refers to the social meaning and is found in social roles, daily interactions and in
institutions, whereas sex refers to the biological meaning
Gender Stereotypes: oversimplified beliefs about how men and women, by virtue of their
physical sex, possess different personality traits and, as a result, may behave differently and
experience the world in different ways
However, gender stereotypes are largely constructed in the social realm of individual’s
lives where they are enforced in families, friends, schools, and workplace (i.e. boys get
to grow up with toys like monster trucks, and toolkits whereas girls grow with toys like
tea sets, and dolls)
Gender is largely learned through interactions and hence its content is constantly
renewed and altered through social interaction; this has three implications
Gender identities are not stable and fixed. What people take to be masculine or
feminine varies from one society to other; it also varies in a society over time
Gender identities (the internal sense of being a man/woman) and gender-specific
behaviour does not have to be congruent with the sex assigned to
individuals at birth
Just like sexuality and sex, gender identities and behaviours are not polar
opposites; the images of masculinity and femininity often emphasize opposites
but there are in fact degrees of masculinity and femininity (although male and
female can be considered as polar opposite, masculinity and femininity are not)
Contemporary studies show that people often still view women and men as
having different and opposite personality traits (and this does not have to be
necessarily true)
The persistence of stereotypical thinking about feminine and masculine
behaviours as being opposites has two implications
The idea of difference in very powerful and it is extremely difficult to
eradicate this idea
In these polarized depictions, feminine traits are viewed as less desirable
than masculine traits
Gender inequalities: Hierarchical asymmetries between men and
women with respect to the distribution of power, material well-being, and
Does not imply that men always have higher prestige, wealth, and
power than do women but it implies that on average men tend to
have higher wealth, power, and prestige than women
Dimensions of Inequality
1. Power: Capacity to impose your will on others regardless of any resistance. This involves your capacity
to influence, manipulate and control others
2. Material Wellbeing: Involves access to economic resources required to pay for necessities of life and
other possessions and advantages
3. Prestige: the average evaluation of occupational activities and positions that are arranged in a
Prestige reflects the degree of respect, honour, or deference generally accorded to a person occupying
a given position
Explaining Gender Inequality
Feminism: Theory developed by women to explain gender inequality and its persistence. Feminism
refers to the body of thought that speculates about causes and nature of women’s disadvantages and
subordinate position in society. It also refers to efforts made (often involving political action) to minimize
or eliminate that subordination
There are many feminist theories, three are very popular:
Liberal Feminism:
Assumes that human beings are rational and will correct inequalities when they know
about them
Gender inequalities are caused and perpetuated by gender stereotyping and the division
of work into “women’s” and “men’s” jobs.
Two main ways to achieve gender inequality are:
Removing gender stereotyping and discrimination in education and paid work
Changing laws to allow for equal opportunities for men and women in paid labour
force and politics
Marxist Feminism
Women’s unpaid work in the home maintains and reproduces the labour force
Women benefit the Capitalists through their social role of being wives/mothers
They ensure that male workers are refreshed and ready to work each day
They raise children to become future labourers
They act as “secondary” or “reserve” labour that can be hired and fired if not enough
males are available
Gender inequality can only be achieved when socialism replaces this capitalist approach
Socialist Feminism
Agree with Marxist feminism in their belief that gender inequality is caused by the gendered
division of labour and its exploitation by capitalism
However classes constitute only one set of social relations that oppress women
There is a second set of oppressive social relations, namely patriarchy
Patriarchy is the system of male dominance over women
Generally, childbearing and the sexual activities of women are the foundation of
gender inequality (because they are done for free)
To decrease gender inequality
State-subsidies need to be provided for maternal benefits and child care
Equal pay must be provided for equal work
Removing inequality altogether requires the eradication of male
The ability to control and influence others, or in other words, using power on others implies domination
of one and subordination of another
Power relations between men and women are hence described as male domination and female
subordination (this means that males tend to have the greater ability in being able to control and
influences females)