Gender Inequality

46 views13 pages
9 Feb 2011
Sociology January 13th, 2011.
Gender Inequality
Reading: NS ch. 7, SiQ ch. 5 @ p. 55
New Society
Social roles – the behaviours that are expected of people occupying particular
social positions
1950s: womens roles – wives & mothers, mens roles (“Provider” and “Head of
household” – paying jobs, responsibilities included meeting family’s needs for
food, clothing, and shelter
1968 divorce laws revised , rise in divorce, signaling that fewer women and men
would have a single spouse for their adult lives
Changes blurring line b/w work at home and work in labour force : Men were
starting to become more involved in household maintenance and child rearing, and
more women were joining paid labour force
2000s : people see themselves as eventually have spouse and raising children,
however unlike 1950s, also see themselves sharing domestic responsibilities
Gender inequalities – inequalities b/w men and women. Social scientists favour
‘gender’ than ‘sex inequalities’ because refers to social meanings rather than
biological characteristics
Gender found in social roles, institutions, and daily interactions
Through parental behaviour, T.V., movies, and print media (schoolbooks), children
learnt to define certain social behaviours as inherent in being chromosomally male
or female
In adulthood, have already adopted, identified with ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine
personality traits/behaviours
And so likely to treat others through lenses of their own identities and
understandings of masculinity and femininity conceptualizations are gender
stereotypes – over simplified beliefs about how men/women possess different
personality traits, and, as a result, may behave differently and experience the
world in different ways
Fact that gender is largely learned and that its content is continually altered
through social interact had three implications:
1.Gender identities and behaviours are not stable and fixed. What people take to be
masculine/feminine varies b/w societies, and within any given society, over time
2.Gender identities—internalized sense of being man/woman—and gender specific
behaviours need not be congruent with the sex assigned to individuals at birth
3.Just like sexuality and sex, gender identities and behaviours are not polar
opposites. There are degrees of masculinity and femininity
Sociologists define gender inequalities as hierarchical asymmetries b/w men and
women with respect to the distribution of power, mater well being, and prestige 
ONLY on AVERAGE men have more wealth, greater power, and positions
accorded with higher prestige
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 13 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
Sociology January 13th, 2011.
Three Dimensions of Inequality
Power – the capacity to impose your will on others, regardless of any resistance
they might offer. Refers to the capacity to influence, manipulate, and control
Material well being – involves access to economic resources necessary to pay for
food, clothing, housing, and other possessions and advantages. 2 important
sources of material well being: work related earnings and accumulated wealth
Prestige – average evaluation of occupational activities and positions that are
arranged in a hierarchy. Reflect degree of respect, honour, or deference generally
accorded to a person occupying a give position
Gender inequality is social stratification based on gender
Feminism – the body of thought on the cause and nature of womens
disadvantages and subordinate position in society and to efforts to minimize or
eliminate that subordination
Feminist Theories
1.Liberal feminism is rooted in liberalism of 1700s
Assumes that human beings are rational and will correct inequalities when they
know about them
Assumes that a good society is one in which men and women enjoy equal rights
and opportunities
According to liberal feminism, gender inequalities are caused and perpetuated by
gender stereotypes and the division of work into “womens andmens jobs
2 main ways to achieve gender equality are: (1) removing gender stereotyping and
discrimination in education and paid work, and (2) changing laws so that men and
women have equal opportunities in the labour force and in politics
2.Marxism derived from Karl Marx
Womens unpaid work in the home maintains and reproduces the labour force
Capitalists benefit because they obtain refreshed workers at the beginning of each
day and mothers raise children who will become future labourers
Capitalists also benefit from womens unpaid work because women in paid labour
force, like men, help capitalists earn profit and because they act as a “reserve
army of labour” that can be hired and fired as labour demands change
Marxist feminists believe that gender equality is possible once socialism replaces
3.Socialist feminism builds on Marxist feminism
Agree that gender inequality is cause by the gendered division of labour and its
exploitation by capitalism
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 13 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
Sociology January 13th, 2011.
Argue that classes constitute only one set of social relations that oppress women
2nd set of social relations is patriarchy – the system of male domination over
Patriarchy predates capitalism
Generally, childbearing and the sexual activities of women are the foundation of
gender inequality
Because domestic and public spheres interact, inequalities in one sphere can
create disadvantages for women in the other sphere (“public sphere refers to
govt and the world of paid work)
Steps required to decrease gender inequality include gov’t-subsidized maternal
benefits and child care, and the payment of equal wages and salaries to people
who do equally valued work
Removing inequality requires the eradication of male dominance as expressed in
legal system, the education system, the family, and the economy
Multiracial emphasize importance of race in understanding gender inequality
Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins – race, class, and gender combine to form a
matrix of domination
Because all 3 intersect, the way that people experience gender inequality depends
on their location within class and racially defined structures
Multiracial feminism’s contribution to understanding gender inequality:
1.It highlights difference among women in terms of gender inequality
2.It points out that women of specific races and in certain class locations are in
positions of power and domination over other groups of women
3.It emphasizes that solutions to gender inequality vary according to the location of
groups of women in the matrix of domination
The ability to use power/control/influence others indicates twin processes of
domination/subordination Power relation b/w men & women are male
domination and female subordination
Power is a system of dominance and exploitation
Sexual harassment is result of general belief that men are superior to women and
may impost their will on them
Because of society’s high eval of men, and low eval of women, men are more
likely to be employed in positions which they are the bosses and women are
supervised by them
Gender inequalities combine w/ racial inequalities minority women experience
most harassment because they are both women and minority group
Power relations imp because power, prestige, and material well-being interrelated,
e.g. wealth & high income bestow power, power normally enhances the capacity
to be wealthy & earn high income
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 13 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in

Get OneClass Grade+

Unlimited access to all notes and study guides.

Grade+All Inclusive
$10 USD/m
You will be charged $120 USD upfront and auto renewed at the end of each cycle. You may cancel anytime under Payment Settings. For more information, see our Terms and Privacy.
Payments are encrypted using 256-bit SSL. Powered by Stripe.