Chapter 4

Gender Inequality
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Chapter 4 Outline
Basic Definitions
Gender Role
Gender Inequality
Perspectives on
Gender Inequality
• Sex
• Gender
• Division of labor
• Wage gap
• Sexual Harassment
• Glass ceiling and escalator
• Double Shift
• Symbolic Interactionist
• Functionalist
• Conflict
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Sex vs. Gender
 Sex:
 Biological distinction
 Defined as male or female
 Gender:
 Social and cultural constructed differences
 Defined as masculine or feminine
 Varies by group or society defining it.
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Gender Belief System
 Ideas of masculinity and femininity that are held to be
true in a society.
 This is reflected in the gendered division of labor
(tasks divided on the basis of gender, i.e. “men’s work
vs. women’s work”)
 Cross cultural research finds social factors determine
division of labor not biological factors.
 Women’s domain is private and domestic while Men’s is
public, economic and political.
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Gender Role Socialization
 Gender-role approach: focus on how socialization
contributes to inequality.
5 major agents of socialization
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 Primary means of socialization
 Reinforce gender distinction through:
 Clothes
pink for girls, softer colors with hearts and flowers
blue for boys, bolder colors with superheroes and sports
 Toys
 Dolls and homemaking items for girls
 Balls and trucks for boys
 Chores
Domestic chores assigned to girls (dishes, laundry)
Maintenance chores assigned to boys (take out garbage, mowing)
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 Peer groups have common interests and are usually
similar in age.
 Boy peer groups stress masculinity more than girls
stress femininity.
 Gender appropriate emotions are taught and stressed.
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 Studies indicate gender bias in schools.
 Teachers show favoritism toward boys in subtle ways.
 Some gender segregated activities are encouraged.
 Boys not reprimanded for behaviors because “boys
will be boys”
 Female gender roles conflict less with school norms.
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 Title IX passed in 1972 resulted in increase in females
in sports.
 Boys still 1.5 times more likely to participate in sports.
 Most sports seen as masculine.
 Helps individuals learn teamwork and leadership
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 Includes: newspapers, magazines, television, movies,
books, and others.
 Display significant gender stereotyping
 Very big influence on what we perceive to be appropriate
gendered behavior
 Advertising significantly reinforces notion of women being
physically attractive and thin.
 This believed to contribute to eating disorders
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Contemporary Gender Inequality
Patriarchy: a hierarchical system of social organization in which
cultural, political, and economic structures are controlled by men.
5 Structural forms contributing to gender inequality
Gendered division of labor
The wage gap
Sexual harassment
The glass ceiling and glass escalator
The double shift
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Gendered division of labor:
 More women in workforce than ever before.
 Women on average have lower salaries, status, and
opportunities compared to working men.
 High concentration of women pink collar occupations:
low-paying, non manual, semiskilled positions (clerical
work, child care).
 Also concentrated in contingent work:
 Part time, temporary, subcontracted
 Good for employers but not great for employees
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Wage Gap
 Wage gap: disparity in earnings between men and
 Women make 81¢ for every $1.00 men make. (full time)
 Wage gap increases by age.
 Comparable worth has been proposed to even things out.
 Wages reflect worth of job not gender or race of worker
 Figure out worth of job by breaking job down into smaller
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Sexual Harassment
 Intentional gender discrimination
 Violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964
 Most often women are victims, but occurs with male
victims as well.
 Usually abuse of power more than about attraction.
 Costs companies millions of dollars each year due to
low productivity, absenteeism, and employee turnover.
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Glass ceiling and escalator
 Glass Ceiling: invisible barrier preventing women from
reaching top ranking positions.
 Male executives afraid employees won’t work under
 In 2005, only 15% of corporate officers in largest 500 U.S.
companies were women.
 Worse in male dominated occupations.
 Glass escalator: men whisked to top quickly in female
dominated occupations.
 Registered nurses, librarians, social workers.
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Double Shift
 Hochschild (1989) calls it “second shift”
 Women doing majority of housework while also working
for a wage outside of home.
 Men and women do different housework:
 Women do daily tasks (caring for children, cooking,
making beds, cleaning up dinner mess.)
 Men do sporadic chores (mowing lawn, car repair)
 Women also a part of the “sandwich generation”
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 Caring for dependent
children and aging parents
Perspectives on Gender Inequality
 Symbolic Interactionist:
 Linguistic Sexism: words and patterns of communication
that ignore, devalue, or make sex objects of one sex
(usually women).
Ex: chairman, mailman, mankind
Words can reinforce perceived position of women in society.
 Non verbal communication
 Men control more space than women
 Reinforces male domination according to interactionists.
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Perspectives on Gender Inequality
 Functionalist:
 Parsons and Bales (1955): gender inequality is inevitable
due to biological division of labor
Instrumental vs. expressive tasks.
 Continuation of gender segregation in workforce with
women in support positions requiring expressive work.
 Human capital analysts state that women diminish
their human capital when they leave workforce to bear
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Perspectives onConflict:
Gender Inequality
 Gender inequality comes from capitalism and private
ownership of means of production by men.
 Capitalism exploits women in workplace and at home
patriarchy leads to women in unequal position.
Feminist views:
 Socialist: men gain control over property and women
 Radical: patriarchy cause of inequality
 Liberal: gender role socialization spurs inequality
 Black: women of color face complex effect of race and gender
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Global Gender Inequality
 Women and girls victims of sexual abuse.
 Female genital mutilation
 Some nations use sex-selective abortion to keep boys
 High rates of illiteracy for girls worldwide
 High rate of maternal mortality(pregnancy related
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Solving gender inequality
 Functionalists:
 Better education and strengthen social institutions
 Conflict:
 Eliminate gender based discrimination
 Abolish capitalism and patriarchy
 Symbolic Interactionists:
 Redefine social realities via socialization
 Get rid of linguistic sexism
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