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Chapter 8

SOC 275 Chapter 8: notes

Course Code
Hae Yeon Choo

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Chapter 8: Separate and Unequal
The Changing Gender Composition of Labour Force
Twentieth century, the percentage of both women and men entering the labour
force increased, but womens rate of increase far outpaced mens.
In recent years, women with children at home have been one of the fastest-
growing groups in the labour force.
Womens entry into the labour force has taken place at every level, from low-
paid clerical and sales work through all the major professions
The Persistence of Gender Ideologies
Many North Americans still believe in the ‘traditional male
breadwinner/female housewife model even if our own lives no longer reflect
Working enabled men to confirm their manhood as breadwinners and family
The workplace was a site of homosocial reproduction’- a place where men
created themselves as men.
Proving oneself in the workplace can be lonely, insecure, and incompletely
Masculinity may no longer be tied to being the only worker, tied to making the
most money to support the family.
Deviance neutralization: rationalization strategies engaged in to minimize the
extent to which one deviates from a real or perceived norm
Gender ideologies about breadwinning are currently in much flux
Given the demands of corporate or factory life, men rarely, if ever, experience
any ability to discuss their inner lives, their feelings, their needs
Because men conflate masculinity with workplace success, they remain
unaware that the work they are doing is also producing and reproducing
gender dynamics; they see it as just ‘work’
Women performed what sociologist Arlie Hochschild calls ‘emotion work’,
making sure that the masculine workplace was well-oiled and functioning
Men say they are bewildered and angered by the changes in workplace policy
that make them feel like they are ‘walking on eggshells’, fearful of making
any kind of remark to a woman lest they be hauled into court for sexual
Persistence of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
Chief obstacle facing women who sought to enter the labour force was sex
Discrimination occurs when we treat people who are similar in different ways,
or sometimes, when we treat people who are different in similar ways
Discrimination on the basis of gender is permissible, but only under the most
exceptional of circumstances.
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oDiscrimination must be based on a ‘bona fide occupational
requirement (BFOR) - is a true requirement of a job that merits a
possibly discriminatory effect
Meiorin test: a stringent and multi-part test that employers can apply to
ascertain whether a potentially discriminatory requirement is a BFOR
Most legal cases of workplace discrimination have involved women bringing
suit to enter formerly all-male workplaces
Sex Segregation
Sex segregation: ‘refers to women’s and mens concentration in different
occupations, industries, jobs, and levels in workplace hierarchies
Vertical segregation refers to segregation associated with differences of
education, experience, and skill within the same field.
Horizontal segregation refers to segregation within occupations in different
fields that are roughly similar in terms of educational and skill requirements
Sex segregation in the workplace is so pervasive that it appears to be the
natural order of things, the simple expression of women and mens natural
Womens paid work remains less diverse than that of men
Job segregation by sex is the single largest cause of the pay gap between the
Because of differential socialization, women and men are likely to seek
different kinds of jobs for different reasons
Need to think of sex segregation as the outcome of several factors the
differential socialization of young men and women, sex-typed tracking in the
educational system, and sex-linked social control at the workplace, at the
hiring stage and beyond
William Bielby and James Baron write, ‘men’s jobs are rewarded according to
their standing within the hierarchy of mens work, and women’s jobs are
rewarded according to their standing within the hierarchy of womens work
Precarious Employment
Another way in which the sexes are segregated is in the very nature of their
employment relationships
precarious employment: work that does not conform with the typical
understanding of a stable, full-time job in which one works full-time on the
employer’s premises with some degree of job security.
Standard employment relationship: job will pay a reasonable, basic job
security, employment benefits
Employment has always been seen as adjunct and marginal to male earnings.
This has allowed employers to hire women on terms that would be
unacceptable to most men, because female work was ‘just for pin money -
small amounts of money that can be used for discretionary or frivolous
Precarious employment is characterized by uncertainty; lack of control over
working conditions; lack of regulatory protection; and low income
Tolerance of precarious employment relies on gendered (and racialized) ideas,
that women are working not to support families but to earn ‘extra money
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