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SOC102H1 Chapter Notes -Homicide, Symbolic Interactionism, Human Capital

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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 isfeminization 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
-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
-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-20th 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 19th and earth 20th women became more visible as thinkers about social problems
oFabians in England, Beatrice Webb worked alongside her husband Sydney Webb
oIn US, church-promotes and social service research delved in problems of growing cities with
women like Jane Addams leading it
oGrowing feminist movement pressed for gender equality and related social concerns

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oEarly 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 society’s openness, self-awareness and social
-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

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-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
-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
oCulturally learned notions of masculinity and femininity
oSocial enactment of biological differences
oMen are treated as men because they play masculine roles and same goes for women
oPrecise distinctions between women and men varied through time and place
oGender distinctions are socially constructed, they work within social institutions to decide
what roles and experiences women and men can have
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