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Reading Lec 10 - Gender Inequality

3 pages31 viewsWinter 2011

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Sheldon Ungar

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Sociology January 13th, 2011.
Gender Inequality
New Society – Ch. 7
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 w/in any given society, over time
2.Gender identities—internalized sense of being man/woman—and gender specific
behaviours need not be congruent w/ 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
Three Dimensions of Inequality: Power; 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; and Prestige
Social scarificationclassification of persons into groups based on shared socio-
economic conditions leads to gender inequality
Feminist Theories
Marxism derived from Karl Marx
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, help capitalists earn profit because they act as a “reserve army of labour
that can be hired and fired as labour demands change
Gender equality is possible once socialism replaces capitalism
Socialist feminism builds on Marxist feminism
Agree that gender inequality is cause by the gendered division of labour and its
exploitation by capitalism
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
Glass ceiling effect – women face invisible barriers that prevent them from
penetrating the highest levels of organizations where power is concentrated and
Impersonal discrimination “statistical discrimination – process whereby
employers make decisions about whether to hire and how much to pay any given
Sociology January 13th, 2011.
women on the basis of the employers’ perceptions of the average characteristics of
all women
Womens movement – social movement that takes action to improve the status of
women—feminism important part of womens movement
Womens groups still lobby gov’t, but from 1980s on 3 factors changed womens
groups and govts:
1.Electoral success of more conservative parties
2.Federal gov’ts calls for economic restraint and increased provincial/territorial and
private-sector responsibility
3.The dissatisfaction w/in womens advocacy groups on agendas reflecting the
concerns of white, largely middle-class women
Voting Rights
Suffrage movement in English Canada was factor in winning the vote for women
Vote granted on the premise that women would use it only to improve the quality
of home life and that enfranchisement would not divert women from their “natural
and sacred” duties in domestic sphere
Such sex stereotyping of women led to expectation that women should not be
interested in politics
Men believed women would not vote at the same rate as men
Men believe women would vote in a politically naïve and parochial (narrow-
minded) way as a result of being isolated at home
Political agendas of men and women differ but not because womens views are
Gender differences in voting due to fact that men and women operate in different
political cultures and have different opportunities to participate in politics
Explaining the Political Participation of Women:
1.Sex-role stereotypes – certain characteristics of women keep them from
participating in politics. Women less assertive then men, more oriented to family
than politics, and conditioned through childhood socialization to view politics as
an inappropriate activity
2.Explanation for underrepresentation of women in Canadian politics reverses the
emphasis by arguing that culture of politics ismale” and therefore hostile to the
participation of women.
3.Gatekeeping – by controlling the nomination of candidates for elected office,
political parties influence the gender composition of their electoral state and the
ridings that nominees represent.
4.Insufficient resources – money imp resource for winning nominations and
mounting publicity campaigns. Women may be at disadvantage to the extent that
they earn less than male candidates and consequently have less to put into a
Sociology January 13th, 2011.
5.Clash b/w family and political life influences participation of some women in
2 areas of policy development that bear on gender inequality in the labour
force: employment equity (including affirmative action), and pay equity (as
expressed in principle of equal pay for work of equal value or “work of
comparable worth”)
Affirmative action – policies that take factors including race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group
Society in Question – Ch. 5
Gender socializations leads women to blame themselves for sexual harassment and
dismiss experiences as unimportant
Sexual harassment involves 2 forms of behaviour: quid pro quo harassment and
hostile environment sexual harassment
Quid pro quo harassment involves sexual threats or bribery linked to getting job,
keeping job or receiving promotion or training opportunity
Hostile environment sexual harassment includes sexual jokes, comments, and
touching that may create sexualized environment or one that degrades women
Gender socialization focuses on how we learn to become male/female according to
cultural standards of social collectivities to which we belong
Result of social learning, men learn treat women as sexual objects, women learn
to believe being treated this way is normal
Womens gender socializations affect how the interpret their experiences and
makes decisions about how to respond to it
Result of gender socialization – women take on passive role when confronting
uncomfortable and unpleasant situations, leads most women to blame themselves
Factors that affect the capacity of women to define sexual harassment as
such: the nature of the workplace culture, the authority of the harasser, the lack of
Canadian citizenship, and the intervention of trained support personnel

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