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Chapter 7

SOC101Y1 - New Society - Sixth Edition - Chapter 7 Notes.docx

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Adam Green

SOCIOLOGY REVIEW CHAPTER 7: GENDER INEQUALITY – ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ASPECTS INTRODUCTION:  SOCIAL ROLES are the behaviours that are expected of people occupying particular social positions  A changed world does not mean an equal world  The revolution is not finished  Gender inequality still exists GENDER INEQUALITY DEFINED:  Social scientists usually refer to inequalities between men and women as gender inequalities because “gender” refers to the social meanings associated with being a man or a women, as opposed to “sex” which refers to the biological characteristics  Images of masculinity and femininity influence how people see themselves and how they experience the world  A male child is likely to receive stuffed animals, trucks, and play toolkits rather than the dolls, play dishes, and play makeup that are likely to be given a girl  Through parental behaviour, television, movies, and print media, children learn to define certain social behaviours as inherent in being chromosomally male or female  As adults, they have adopted and identified with many masculine or feminine personality traits and behaviours  They are likely to treat others through the lenses of their own identities and understandings of masculinity and femininity ; called GENDER STEREOTYPES and are oversimplified beliefs  Gender learning and social interaction has these implications: 1. Gender identities and behaviours are not stable and fixed; they can vary from one society to the next, and even over time 2. Gender identities and gender-specific behaviours need not be congruent with the sex assigned to individuals at birth 3. Gender identities and behaviours are not polar opposites; they often emphasize opposites, but there are degrees of masculinity and femininity  There is a fixation on the allegedly opposed characteristics of men and women (Ex: evident in the phrases “opposite sex” and “vive la difference”  Gender stereotypes lead us to conclude that most people think of men and women as opposites  Contemporary studies show that people often still view women and men as having different and opposite personality traits  The persistence of stereotypical thinking about feminine and masculine characteristics as polar opposites should sensitize you to the idea of difference as a powerful one and is hard to dispel and that feminine traits are viewed as less desirable than masculine ones  Sociologists usually define gender inequalities as hierarchical asymmetries between men and women with respect to the distribution of power, material well-being, and prestige (these are the dimensions of inequality)  It does imply that on average, men have more wealth, greater power, and positions that are accorded higher prestige  POWER is the capacity to impose your will on others; refers to the capacity to influence, manipulate and control others; is exercised in the overt imposition of the will of one individual on others and in the control or support by groups or organizations  MATERIAL WELL-BEING involves access to the economic resources needed to pay for food, clothing, housing and other possessions and advantages (Ex: work-related earnings and accumulated wealth)  PRESTIGE is the average evaluation of occupational activities and positions that are arranged in a hierarchy; reflects the degree of respect, honour or deference accorded to a person occupying a given position  Gender inequality is social stratification based on gender EXPLAINING GENDER INEQUALITY:  It was mainly women who developed these theories  FEMINISM refers to the body of thought on the cause and nature of women’s disadvantages and subordinate position in society and to efforts to minimize or eliminate that subordination  Popular theories in Canada’s economy and polity include liberal, Marxist and socialist feminism  Liberal feminism: - is rooted in the liberalism of the 1700s - it 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 - gender inequalities are caused and perpetuated by gender stereotyping and the division of work into women’s and men’s jobs - gender equality can be achieved by removing gender stereotyping and discrimination in education and paid work and by changing laws so that men and women have equal opportunities in the labour force and in politics  Marxist feminism: - Women’s unpaid work in the home maintains and reproduces the labour force - Capitalist benefit because they obtain refreshed workers and mothers raise children who will become future labourers - They also benefit from women’s paid work because women in the paid labour force help capitalists earn profit - Gender equality is possible once socialism replaces capitalism  Socialist feminism: - Agrees with Marxist feminism that gender inequality is caused by the gendered division of labour and its exploitation by capitalism - Argues that classes constitute only one set of social relations that oppress women; the second set is patriarchy - Patriarchy predates capitalism - Childbearing and the sexual activities of women are the foundation of gender inequality - Because domestic and public spheres intersect, inequalities in one sphere can create disadvantages for women in the other sphere - The steps required to decrease gender inequality include government-subsidized maternal benefits and child care, and the payment of equal wages and salaries to people who do equally valued work - The eradication of male dominance as expressed in the legal system, the educational system, the family, and the economy is needed  Multiracial feminism: - Emphasizes the importance of race - Modifies the socialist feminist perspective by observing that hierarchical systems of domination incorporate race - Contributes to our understanding of gender inequality by …  highlighting differences among women in terms of gender inequality  pointing out that women of specific races or class locations are in positions of power and domination over other groups of women  emphasizing that solutions to gender inequality vary according to the location of groups of women in the matrix of domination EXERCISING POWER:  Most sociologists describe the power relations between men and women as those of male domination and female subordination  Male influence and control over women is broadly defined  Power pervades all social relations, routine behaviours, and commonly accepted practices  Power is evident in day-to-day situations (Ex: being subjected to sexual innuendos)  Sexual harassment is essentially a display of power in which one person attempts to control another through sexual overtures  In most cases of sexual harassment, it is the man who makes the sexual overtures  A SYSTEM OF DOMINANCE AND EXPLOITATION is when the capacity or incapacity to control and influence becomes routine and patterned  Sexual harassment is the result of the general belief that men are superior to women and may impose their will on them; is also the outcome of patterned ways of behaving that are based on this belief and that serve to reinforce it  Gender inequalities in power also combine with racial inequalities; therefore, minority women experience the most harassment because they are both women and members of a minority group SEPARATE SPHERES:  In seeking to understand gender inequalities, researchers point out that historically, women have been excluded from certain types of activities that create opportunities for acquiring power, prestige, and wealth  During the late 1800s and 1900s, the proper place of Canadian women was thought to be in the home, where they would be responsible for producing and raising the next generation  Women were not expected to participate in politics, to enact legislation or to be employed  The denial of voting rights for women until the end of WWI and the existence of legislation that limited the hours and times when women could be employed limited their participation in the public sphere  The consequences of the separation of the public sphere for men and the private sphere for women: - The amount of skill, effort, and energy expended is not widely noticed because most housework is not done in the presence of husbands - Adding to the devaluation of work in the home is the tendency to view nurturing and caregiving activities as biologically determined traits rather than acquired skills - Restricting women to the home reduces their access to power, prestige, and material well-being - The women is dependent on the person who hands over the money - Economic dependency is likely to produce asymmetries in power between the woman and the income earner - If all her activities are limited to the private sphere, a woman cannot obtain direct access to power through political representation, political office, or favourable laws - Societal evaluation of work done in the home is not high - Sociological research shows that many activities done in the home are not high in prestige - Housework generates few financial rewards; it is unimportant for the community; a job at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy  The belief that a woman’s place is in the home disadvantages women relative to men in the distribution of prestige, power, and economic resources  Recognition of these disadvantages has elicited two main responses: 1. Some people have tried to eliminate the devaluation of domestic labour by having women’s unpaid work recognized officially and having a dollar value assigned to it - assigning a dollar value to women’s unpaid work was raised in feminist discussions in the 1970s and there is still interest in measuring the value of the unpaid work today 2. Emphasizes the entry of women into the public sphere - the fact that women are now part of the public sphere of paid work and politics does not mean that gender equality exists - women’s labour-force participation rate (the proportion of women of working age who work full-time for money, expressed as a percentage) is still lower than men’s - women are still less likely to become elected politicians than men SITES OF WORK: A. FEMALE LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION - In the past, most work done by women was unpaid domestic labour - In the early days of Canadian settlement by Europeans, women processed food, wove fabric, sewed clothing, tended the sick, and produced the next generation of labourers - Women also took in boarders, did laundry, and prepared meals for others in their homes - Over the years, women have increasingly done work that is paid and usually performed outside the home - The marital status of the female labour force participants also changed dramatically during the 20 th century - Until the 1960s, the typical female worker in the paid labour force was a never-married woman, but today married women constitute the majority - The labour-force participation rate of women with young children has also increased - Three factors caused these changes in the women’s labour-force participation rate: 1.Changes in Canada’s economy that increased the demand for workers in service jobs  In the early 1900s, most jobs were in agriculture or manufacturing  Starting in the 1920s, more and more jobs became available in firms that provided services  Women were often considered suitable employees for the newly emerging service jobs  had supplanted men as office workers; this development was made possible by the introduction of the typewriter, which was thought to lower the skill requirements of secretarial work  hiring women as teachers and secretaries was also appealing because they could be paid lower wages than men on the belief that women were economically supported by the men 2.Decreases in the number of children born  A decline in fertility facilitated women’s entry into the paid labour force since it created an imbalance between the labour demands of the expanding service economy after WWII and the available labour supply  Canada’s fertility rates dropped during the 1930s and 1940s as a result of the Depression and WWII  The new supply of new workers was relatively small when the postwar Canadian economy boomed  There were too few men and young single women to meet the growing demands for labour in Canada’s new service-based economy  To solve the problem, employers began loosening restrictions against the hiring of married women 3.Increases in the financial pressures on families  Women’s employment had always been an important source of income for low-income families  To meet economic needs, many working-class women were employed as domestics and in factories during the late 1800s and early 1900s  After WWII, women’s paid employment became an important source of family income for single-parent and two adult families alike  In husband-wife families, wives’ earnings not only increase family incomes but also help to keep many families out of poverty, particularly when the husbands earn little or nothing B. DOMESTIC LABOUR - Data shows that women are still more likely than men to do unpaid work involving home maintenance and child care - Women also spend more hours than men do on these activities - Women are more often caregivers for seniors than men are - Even when they are in the paid labour force, women continue to spend more time than men do on housework and child care - Higher percentages of married women spend 15 hours or more on housework and child care among those who have at least one child under age 15 in the household - Lone-parent women also spend more time on housework and child care than do lone-parent men - Women report spending less time than men do watching television, pursuing hobbies, and playing sports and games - Women are more likely than men are to report feeling stressed because of lack of time - Entering the labour force may mean fewer hours spent on work in the home, but increases the hours of total work performed by women - Demands on women to provide unpaid care likely will increase because the number of senior Canadians in need of care will increase - Past caregiving patterns suggest future providers of care are most likely to be women - Caregiving responsibilities alter the way women and men lead their lives; women represent the “sandwich” generation = individuals caught between the demands of caring for children and older relatives - For women, the domestic and public spheres interact; women may likely find that caregiving activities cause them to arrive late to work, leave early, or miss work occasionally; what people do or don’t do in one sphere affects their activities in the other LABOUR-FORCE INEQUALITIES: 1. OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION AND SEX TYPING  Gender stereotypes imply women are generally thought to be more caring and therefore better car
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