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Canada (158,079)
Sociology (1,479)
SOC101Y1 (470)
Chapter 7


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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

SOC101: January 9th, 2013 CHAPTER 7: GENDER INEQUALITY - Social roles are the behaviours that are expected of people occupying particular social positions (in the 1950's, women's roles were those of wives and mothers and in contrast, the men were expected to have paying jobs and meet their family's needs for necessities) - Three main arenas in Canadian society in which gender inequality is evident: the home, the labour force, and politics - "gender inequalities" vs. "sex inequalities" - they favour gender because it refers to the social meanings associated to a man or woman, whereas sex refers to the biological characteristics Gender Stereotypes - Through parental behaviour, television, movies, and print media, children learn to define certain social behaviours as inherent in being chromosomally male or female, even when such traits are largely learned - Gender stereotypes are beliefs about how men and women may behave differently and experience the world in different ways - Gender-related identities and behaviours are largely socially constructed… they are outcomes of the way we interact with others and encounter taken-for-granted rules and ways of doing things - The fact that gender is largely learned has three implications: 1) Gender identities and behaviours are not stable and fixed 2) Gender identities - the internalized sense of being a man or a woman - and gender specific behaviours need not to be congruent with the sex assigned to individuals at birth 3) Just like sexuality and sex, gender identities and behaviours are not polar opposites. Images of masculinity and femininity often emphasize opposites but there are in fact degrees of masculinity and femininity - Contemporary studies show that people often still view women and men as having different, and opposite personality traits - feminine traits are viewed as less desirable than masculine ones Dimensions of Inequality - Gender inequalities as hierarchical asymmetries between men and women with respect to the distribution of power, material well-being, and prestige - This definition does not imply that men as individuals always have greater prestige, wealth, and power than do individual women… it does imply that on average compared with women, this is true - Power is the capacity to impose your will on others, regardless of any resistance they might offer - refers to the capacity to influence, manipulate, and control others - Material well-being involves access to the economic resources necessary to pay for food, clothing, housing, and other possessions and advantages - two important sources of this are work-related earnings and accumulated wealth - Prestige is the average evaluation of occupational activities and positions that are arranged in a hierarchy - It reflects the degree of respect, honour, or deference generally accorded to a person occupying a given position - Gender inequality is a social stratification based on gender Explaining Gender Inequality - New theories emerged that explained gender inequality and its persistence - 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 its efforts to minimize or eliminate them - Many feminist theories that exist, liberal, Marxist, and socialist feminism are three popular explanations for gender inequalities in Canada's economy and polity - Liberalism 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 stereotyping and the division of work into "women's" and "men's" jobs - Two main ways to achieve gender equality: 1) Removing gender stereotyping and discrimination in education and paid work 2) Changing laws so that men and women have equal opportunities in the labour voce and in politics - A different perspective on gender inequality derives form the writings of Karl Marx - Women's unpaid work in the home maintains and reproduces the labour force - Mothers raise children who will become future labourers - Marxist feminists believe that gender equality is possible once socialism replaces capitalism - Socialist feminists build on Marxist feminism - They agree that gender inequality is caused by the gendered division of labour and its exploitation by capitalism - However, they argue that classes constitute only one set of social relations that oppress women, which is patriarchy Exercising Power - Sociologists describe the power relations between men and women as those of male domination and female subordination - Sexual harassment is essentially a display of power in which one person attempts to control, and often succeeds in controlling, another through sexual overtures - When the capacity or incapacity to control and influence becomes routine and patterned, we can speak of a power as a system of dominance and exploitation - Women experience not only sexual harassment but racial harassment as well Separate Spheres - Power, prestige, and material well-being are often interrelated - Wealth and high income normally bestow power, just as power normally enhances the capacity to be wealthy and earn high income - During the late 1800s and for much of the 1900s, the "proper place" of Canadian women was thought the be in the home, where they would be responsible for producing and raising the next generation - The public sphere was viewed as the domain of men, who were expected to be the breadwinners and heads of households - Restricting women to the home reduces their access to power, prestige, and material well-being - Young people view housework as women's work, young men consider housework to be 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 - In Canada, women's unpaid work was recognized officially in the 1996 census - Entry of women into the public sphere… - 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 Female Labour-Force Participation - In the past, most work done by women was unpaid domestic labour - At the beginning of the 20th century, only 14% of women were economically active in the paid labour force compared with 78% of men - 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) Canada's changing economy - Women were considered suitable employees for newly emerging service jobs - Introduction of the typewriter lowered the skill requirements of secretarial work - Hiring women as teachers and secretaries 2) Fertility Decline and Labour Supply - Canada's fertility rates dropped during the 1930s and 1940s as a result of the Depression and World War II - There were too few men and young single women 3) Family Finances - Women's employment had always been an important source of income for low-income families to meet economic needs - Today, one in five families is headed by women who are single parents, most of
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