Sociology Chapter 4 – Gender Inequality
Sexism: The subordination of one sex, female based on the assumed superiority of the other sex (male)
• By 2004 women made up 47% of the total labor force
• Many more women than men today have gained post-secondary education
• Women are also increasingly represented among the self-employed
• Some people today believe that gender inequality is a thing of the past
o These people believe that men and women in Canada are equal
• Nowhere is gender inequality more clearly illustrated than in the persistence against women
• Every minute of everyday a women is sexually assaulted somewhere in Canada
o Only 14% of assaults surveyed in 1993 were reported
o 51% of females had experienced at least on incident of physical or sexual assault since
the age of 16
o Spousal assault rates have decreased somewhat for both sexes
o Every week in Canada at least women is murdered by her boyfriend
o Of all crimes reported in 2004, 51% of them were women
o 6x more likely for women to be victims of sexual assault
• Violence against women in its many forms is one particularly devastating result of sexism and
Patriarchy: Refers to a hierarchical system of social organization in which cultural, political, and
economic structures are controlled by men.
Gender Inequality as a Social Problem
• Women experience discrimination based on their sex
• Women constitute a numerical majority (population wise)
o HOWEVER, they are often referred to as the countries largest minority as they do not
posses as much wealth, power or prestige as men.
• Women earned 58.4% of what men earn each year
• Women today earn 62%of what men earn each year
• Women are more often only employed as part time workers
Defining Sex and Gender
Sex: Sex refers to the biological, physiological, hormonal, and chromosomal attributes of females, males
and intersex people.
• Our sex in the first thing we receive in life
• Intersexed Children: unrecognizably male or female genitalia or with both. We surgically alter the
child to meet our two-sex model
Andorcentricity: The practice of putting males at the center
• At one point in time females were viewed as a flawed version of the male
• In the 1800 that way of thinking stopped and women were looked at as fundamentally different
than men Gender: Refers to the socially constructed sets of attitudes that dictate what behaviors, thoughts, and
emotions are inappropriate for each sex- these are culturally specific, change over time, and are associated
with femininity and masculinity.
• Feminine= passive, dependent and emotional
• Masculine= aggressive, independent and unemotional
• People can choose a gender identity that is in keeping with the way they view themselves
o Some people choose a more feminine identity while others chose a more masculine
o Most people chose a gender identity that is consistent with their sex
• Transgender people show the fluidity of gender
o Today transgendered people are challenging the widely held conceptions of gender
Biological and Social Bases of Gender Roles
Gender Ideology: the social basis for gender roles is known as the gender belief system- the idea of
masculinity and femininity that are held to be valid in a given society at a specific historical time.
Gender Division of Labor: The process whereby productive tasks are separated on the basis of gender.
• Evidence shows that social factors, more than biological factors, effect gendered division of labor
• To explain gender inequality some sociologists use;
o Gender RoleApproach: focusing on how the socialization process contributes to male
domination and female subordination
o Structural Approach: Focusing on how large-scale social structures determine the
boundaries of a individual behaviour
Gender Inequality and Socialization
Numerous sociological studies have founds that gender-role stereotyping is one of the enduring
consequences of childhood gender socialization. The most significant agents of socialization are parents,
peers, the education system and the media.
The Media and Gender Socialization
• Females acceptance for being “compliant” is consistently reinforced throughout all types of media
There are three schemes of contemporary media that reflect gender.
1. The underrepresentation of women and other minority groups
2. Stereotypical Fashion in which males and females are presented
3. Portrayal of male-female relations along traditional lines and in ways that perpetuate and
normalize violence against women
o There are four ways in which media promotes gender-stereotypical relationships between
1. Women’s dependence and men’s independence
2. Women’s incompetence and men’s authority
3. Women as primary caregivers and men as primary breadwinners
4. Women as sex objects and men as aggressors
Some people believe that media has a unique ability to reshape gender ideas.
• TV shows have more male characters than female
• Females are often cast in minor supporting roles • Music videos today are said to reinforce Rape Culture- the pervasive system of cultural values,
attitudes, and practices that support or perpetuate sexualized violence against women.
o Most music videos today are made by pornography producers; it is said that the line
between music video and porn is not indistinct
o “Women may be seen, by men but also by women ourselves, as decorative, dehumanized
and perhaps deserving of abuse”
Important to remember that gender is socially constructed and that what is constructed can be socially
Contemporary Gender Inequality
Many sociologists believe that through various social institutions and structures, people assign different
roles and responsibilities to women and men based on notions of gender appropriateness.
Individual Sexism: refers to individual’s beliefs and actions that are rooted in anti-female prejudice and
Institutional Sexism: Refers to the power that men have to engage in sex discrimination at the
organizational and institutional le