Although the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are often used interchangeably, they are not
synonymous. Sex refers to the biology of male or femaleness, while gender refers to the
expectations of behaviour or appearance that we describe as masculine or feminine. We are born
male or female, but we learn our gender. We learn gender through socialization: parents, peers,
schools, and the media provide instruction on how to properly acquire gender roles.
Despite the gains of the feminist movement, gender inequality persists in Canadian society.
Women are more likely than men to experience sexism, to work in low-paying and low-prestige
jobs, and have fewer hiring and promotion opportunities. Even though most Canadian women
work in the paid labour force, they still remain almost entirely responsible for domestic labour.
In this chapter, you will
• distinguish between sex and gender, and discuss how these concepts affect the lives of
men and women;
• distinguish between types of feminism and the ways each proposes to change society;
• describe several ways in which gender socialization occurs, and in what settings;
• understand which aspects of women’s lives are most affected by socially constructed
gender roles, and how this experience is different for men; and,
• find out how socially constructed gender roles and gender socialization have changed
over time, and how they are likely to continue to change in the future.
double shift: Heavy daily workloads, both at the workplace and at home, that women
are far more likely than men to experience.
gender: The expectations of behaviour or appearance that we describe as masculine
or feminine; a set of social expectations.
glass ceiling: Any sex-based barrier to equal opportunity for hiring and promotion.
sex: The biological characteristics that make a person male or female; a biological fact
at birth. 2
sexism: The perceived superiority of one sex (most often men) over the other (usually women).
sexual double standard: The expectation that women will feel or behave differently from men
in sexual matters.
Armstrong, P., & Armstrong, H. (1994). Double Ghetto: Canadian Women and Their
Segregated Work, 3rd ed. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
This work was first published in 1978, and described the demeaning condition of Canadian
women in the workplace and at home, living as they were in what the authors called a
‘double ghetto’. Since then there have been two new editions. In the most recent (1994), the
authors note that this condition has not changed much, and that Canadian society is still
organized and divided according to sex.
Gardiner, J. K. (ed.) (2002). Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory: New Directions. New
York: Columbia University Press.
Most academic research and literature on gender relations focuses on women; however, in
recent years the field has embraced issues of masculinity as well. This book reflects this
flurry of interest. Here, masculinity is considered from a feminist perspective, and according
to Michael Kimmel, ‘the wisdom of this collection . . . is its portrayal of feminist theory and
masculinities studies as partners’.
Kaufmann, M. (ed.) (1987). Beyond Patriarchy: Essays by Men on Pleasure, Power, and
Change. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Although this book is not recent, it is worth reading because it marks the beginning of an
interest in sociology on the topic of masculinity. The authors of the various essays are
sympathetic to the feminist cause, and integrate several of its principles into their
considerations of the various topics covered. From undermining patriarchy to changing
legislation, the authors support the move toward gender equality in our society.
Kimmel, M. (ed.) (2007). The Sexual Self: The Construction of Sexual Scripts. Nashville, TN:
Vanderbilt University Press.
Although sex and sexuality are not the focus of this chapter, understandably the two are
closely related to gender. This book examines this interconnection with reference to ‘sexual
scripts’, a concept developed in by sociologists John Gagnon and William Simon. As such, 3
the authors treat sexuality as a social phenomenon that is subject to social and cultural
Pinnelli, A., Racioppi, F., & Rettaroli, R. (eds.) (2007). Genders in the Life Course:
Demographic Issues. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
This book offers a comprehensive approach to gender and its relation to demographic
behaviour through a life-course perspective, including overview of topics such as intimate
union formation and dissolution, fertility, migration, aging, gender inequality, as well as
others. It is geared toward an academic audience of social scientists and other scholars but is
also useful as a taste of the field for undergraduates.
Siltanen, J., & Doucet, A. (2008). Gender Relations in Canada: Intersectionality and Beyond.
Toronto: Oxford University Press.
This book discusses the implication of gender throughout life. Some of the examples
provided are personal reflections or insights provided by graduate students and the authors
themselves on life experiences in regard to gender. These additions underscore the important
connection between micro- and macrosociological phenomena.
Equality Between Women and Men
Milestones in Canadian Women’s History
Gender and Work Database
Status of Women Canada (swc)
The Third WWWave
Global Database of Quotas for Women
Multiple Choice Questions
1. The perceived superiority of one sex over the other is known as
d) gender polarization.
2. The term __________ refers to the expectations of behaviour or appearance described as
masculine or feminine.
a) sexual hegemony
b) the beauty standard
d) gender roles
3. The expectation that women will feel or behave differently from men in sexual matters is
referred to as the
a) presence of sexual diversity.
b) concept of sexual dimorphism.
c) the enactment of sexual scripts.
d) sexual double standard.
4. In __________ feminism, men and women are viewed as essentially the same.
5. According to __________ feminism, women’s subordination is related to the advent of
d) all of the above 5
6. __________ feminism argues that there is no single source of gender inequality.
7. __________ feminism identifies patriarchy as the original source of gender inequality.
8. Socialist feminism is concerned with both
a) men’s control of women’s sexuality and private property.
b) discriminatory legislation and patriarchy.
c) capitalism and private ownership.
d) capitalism and patriarchy.
9. __________ feminism is particularly concerned with equity issues such as access to
education, paid employment, and pay equity.
10. Male control of women’s sexuality and reproductive capacity is a key issue associated with
which of the following feminisms?
11. A key issue of __________ is inequality in both paid and unpaid work. 6
a) socialist feminism
b) liberal feminism
c) Marxist feminism
d) all of the above
12. Which feminism does NOT advocate change in the social structure of society in an effort to
redress gender inequality?
d) none of the above
13. __________ feminists argue that in terms of achieving gender equality, there is no single
solution for all women.
d) both a and b
14. According to Robert Merton’s strain theory, men are likely to behave as __________, while