SOC101 NOTES- GENDER
Gender: culturally and socially constructed differences between females and males found in meanings,
beliefs and practices. Social and cultural processes are most important in defining what females and
males are, what they should do what sorts of relations should exist between them.
Microlevel analysis of gender focuses on how individuals learn gender roles and acquire gender identity.
Gender role: attitudes, behaviour and activities that are socially defined as appropriate for each
sex and learned through socializaition.
Gender identity: person’s perception of self as female/male.
Macrolevel analysis of gender examines structural features, external to individual that perpetuate
Gendered institutions: gender is one of the major ways by which social life is organized in
sectors of society. Every society uses gender to assign certain tasks.
Gender belief system: ideas of masculine and feminine attributes that are held to be valid. This
is legitimated by religion, science, law and other societal values; it may change over time as
gender roles change.
Social significance of Gender
Illustrated by eating problems: anorexia, bulimia, activity bulimia, obesity and bodybuilding.
Sexism: subordination of one sex (usually female) based on assumed superiority of other sex. It has 3
components: negative attitudes toward women; stereotypical beliefs that reinforce, complement or
justify prejudice; discrimination that keep women separate.
It is interwoven with patriarchy—hierarchical system of social organization in which cultural, political
and economic structures are controlled by men—or matriarchy—hierarchical system of social
organization in which cultural, political and economic structures are controlled by women.
Work and Gender Inequality
3 factors in determining the gendered division of labour in society: type of subsistence base (means by
which society gains the basic necessities of life), supply and demand for labour, and extent to which
women’s child-rearing activities are compatible with certain types of work.
Preindustrial Societies: In hunting & gathering societies, fairly equitable relationships exist because
neither sex has the ability to provide all the necessary food. In horticultural societies, cultivation with
hoes is compatible with child care thus fair degree of gender equality exists. In agrarian societies, the
work requires more physical strength and labour thus male dominance is apparent; gender inequality
increases from private ownership of property.
Industrial societies: Men were viewed as “breadwinners” and women as “homemakers”.
Post-industrial societies: formal education is crucial for economic and social success for both sex. Gender and Socialization
Toys that parents select for children are significant source of gender socialization.
Gender-linked chore assignments occur less frequently in middle and upper-income families and
African-American families. In contrast, U.S. Latina children are given more stringent curfews.
Peers become more influential agents of gender socialization than adults during adolescence.
Teachers are influential agents because they provide important messages about gender through both
formal content of classroom assignments and informal interaction with students.
Mass media shows more male than female characters and male characters are often more aggressive
whereas females are helpless.
Contemporary Gender Inequality
Gender-segregated work: concentration of women and men in different occupations; affects both sex
as men are kept out of certain “female” jobs and vice versa.
Labor market segmentation: division of jobs into categories with distinct working conditions, which
results in women having separate and unequal jobs.
Pay equity (comparable worth): belief that wages ought to reflect the worth of a job, not the gender or
race of worker.
Employment equity: strategy to eliminate effects of discrimination and to make employment
opportunities available to excluded groups.
Perspectives on Gender stratification
Functionalist: views men and women as having distinct roles important for stability in society.
Parsons: husband performs the instrumental tasks of providing economic support and making
decisions while wife assumes expressive tasks of providing affection and emotional support for
Neoclassical economic perspective: women create “atrophied human capital” when they leave labour
force to engage in family work. While women are out of labour force, their human capital deteriorates
and when they return,