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Gender Inequality

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University of Toronto St. George

Chapter 4: Gender Relations Learning objective: 1. To distinguish between sex and gender 2. To be able to define sexism and gender inequality 3. To know about factors that reinforce gender inequality 4. To recognize the significance of the glass ceiling 5. To know what is feminization of poverty 6. To understand the feminist movement and become aware of gender stereotypes 7. To understand different theoretical approaches to gender inequality 8. To understand social, psychological, and health effects of gender inequality 9. To be able to propose possible solutions to gender inequality Introduction - Sex is a universal and ancient basis for social differentiation - All societies divide work and status along gender lines - The biological realities of the sexes have lead to social practices of men as protectors/breadwinners and women and procreators and care givers - Sex distinctions varies from one culture to another, man can also be caregivers, with low fertility rate women can be breadwinners, because the female distinction fades - Societies differ and ways and extent to which they dramatize sex differences, some enlarge them, some diminish - Societies vary in degree to which they make sex differences seem large or small, important or unimportant - The way societies rationalize these distinctions also differ, some refer to religion, other draw on secular practices of equality, while others refer to pseudo-scientific theories of sex differences - Study of gender relations was not present in sociology until the mid-20 century - Until recently women received very little or not education, so they have enjoyed little social standing and almost no institutional support for their intellectual ambitions - In the late 19 and earth 20 women became more visible as thinkers about social problems o Fabians in England, Beatrice Webb worked alongside her husband Sydney Webb o In US, church-promotes and social service research delved in problems of growing cities with women like Jane Addams leading it o Growing feminist movement pressed for gender equality and related social concerns www.notesolution.com o Early feminist movement womens suffrage - Until early 1970s, no sociologist seemed to notice that housework was work of economic value - Ann Oakley published a book on sociology of housework, which drew needed attention to domestic inequality and its relation to other forms of gender inequality - Arrival of full-fledges sociology of gender relations coincided with large scare entry of women into places of higher education, it took womens contributions and the third wave of feminism to bring gender inequality and gender relations to full sociological attention - Third wave feminism movement embraced racial and class diversity and accommodated differences in nationality and cultural background, while the second wave was largely middle class and white - There is a relation between the social structure, esp the social distribution of power and the propagation of knowledge - Only the powerful get noticed, studied and discusses - To put gender issues on the list of research topics, women needed access to power - Subject matter of sociology itself is a measure of societys openness, self-awareness and social concern - Changes in society changes in distribution of power - Changes changes in the intellectual class and the institutionalization of knowledge, or peer review, research findings and journal publications - Discovery of gender relations was a necessary step in addressing some of the problems involved The battle over gender today - Some times the norms of masculinity are just as an impediment to men as felinity is to women, esp if men are old or disabled - Historically, women have suffered more disadvantage than men in school, work and public realm - Formally Canadians support gender equality, but informally many still discriminate against women or in favor of men - Gender stereotyping and discrimination hinder women more then they do men, and often they do so in almost invisible, but not less consequential way - For the past 30 years feminist sociologists have been denying claims of biological essentialism and asserting that only social construction and socialization can account for the observable inequalities and differences - But recently, there has been research done which indicated that there are might be some neurological differences between how male and female brains work - Better understanding will yield better communication www.notesolution.com - Differences do not indicate any ones superiority, they just imply that a more pluralistic society, open to all kinds of differences, can function better Defining sexism and gender inequality - Sexism are discriminatory and derogatory attitudes and beliefs that promote stereotyping of people because of their gender; sexism and gender stereotyping are two problems for both men and women, and are most often experienced in institutions and social relationships - Since men traditionally occupied the dominant position in society, sexism has been more harmful for women - Gender inequality is the differential success of men and women in gaining access to values rewards; the tends to stem from structural arrangements, interpersonal discrimination and cultural beliefs Sex and Gender - Sex is a biological concept that differentiated female and male; most people are mainly male or mainly female from the moment of conception; biological differences between the sexes are anatomic, genetic and hormonal - Research has not revealed a simple split between the sexes, or any direct link between genetics and the behaviour of each sex - Male and female might not be discrete biological categories, but instead two opposite poles along a continuum of sexual variation - Whatever biological differences exist, few have impact on modern day social life - There is no proof that there are biologically based psychological differences, such as the maternal instinct between males and females - As fertility rates decrease, reproductive differences become less and less socially relevant to a definition of peoples lives - Gender is a social division referring to the social and psychological attributes by which human are categorized as male or female; biology is deemed irrelevant to the social distinctions between men and women; encompasses how men, women, boys and girls should act and look like; it is a label that subsumes a large assortment or traits, beliefs, values and mannerism, and defines how we should practice social interactions o Culturally learned notions of masculinity and femininity o Social enactment of biological differences o Men are treated as men because they play masculine roles and same goes for women o Precise distinctions between women and men varied through time and place o Gender distinctions are socially constructed, they work within social institutions to decide what roles and experiences women and men can have www.notesolution.com o What begins as biological differences assumes a vast importance through social construction of gender roles o Gender as sex-based social constructions Masculinity/Femininity - Views of differences between women and men are captured in the distinction of what is considered feminine and what is masculine - This is an over-simplification of the problem and the cause of gender issues - Gender roles are the patterns of behaviour that a society expects of males and females and that all members of the society learn as a part of the socialization process o Societal expectations from men and women, are widespread aspect of social life - Masculinity is a socially constructed idea of how boy and men should act; qualities that people in our society expect to find in a typical man - Femininity is a socially constructed idea of how women and girls should act, or qualities that out society expects to find in a typical female - Gender socialization is the process by which people learn their gender-based behaviours, the socialization process link gender to personal identity in the from of gender identity and to distinctive activities in the form of gender roles, the major agents of socialization all serve to reinforce cultural definitions of musicality and femininity o Gender + personal identity = gender identity distinctive roles gender roles o Major agents of socialization reinforce definitions of masculinity and femininity - Men suffer from gender stereotyping - Men as aggressive and protectors will think twice about displaying the emotional or creative dimensions - Can affect mental health and social relationships - Men are more likely to commit violent crimes or be victims of crime - Male anti-social behaviours as a need for a masculine self-image - Men experience more chronic conditions, higher death rates and diet on average 5 years earlier than women -
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