My textbook is Introduction to sociology (11e) by Anthony Giddens [and three others].
My notes and finished quizzes of Chapter 10 Gender Inequality are below.
An attention-grabbing question
In 2017, what proportion of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women?
The correct answer is a.
I. Basic Concepts
1. What is the difference between sex and gender?
Sex refers to the biological and anatomical differences distinguishing females and males.
Gender refers to social expectations about behavior regarded as appropriate for the members of each sex. Gender refers not to the physical attributes distinguishing men and women but to socially formed traits of masculinity and femininity.
2. How do both biology and gender socialization contribute to differences between men and women?
Gender differences are not biologically determined; they are culturally produced.
Studies document persuasively that biological factors—including genetics, hormones, and brain physiology—differ by gender, and that these biological differences are associated with some social behaviors, including language skills, interpersonal interactions, and physical strength. However, nearly all social scientists agree that theories based solely on an innate predisposition neglect the vital role of social interaction in shaping human behavior.
Some have claimed that the male sex hormone, testosterone, is associated with a propensity for violence (Archer, 1991).
There might be slight biological differences between men and women, but these small differences may be exacerbated and amplified by social contexts that promote behaviors that are consistent with gendered stereotypes and expectations.
Burman and colleagues' (2007) data show that girls and boys learn language in different ways.
A mounting body of research concludes that gender differences in brain functioning may contribute, in part, to a wide range of social outcomes, including communication style, empathy, depression, anxiety, and fear. However, most scholars conducting this research are careful to point out that biological differences are almost always exacerbated or fostered by social contexts and norms (McCarthy, 2015).
3. What does it mean to say that gender is something we "do"? Give an example of a way you do gender in your daily life.
Our clothing choices, how we wear our hair, even the pitch and intonation of our voice are all indications of how we "do gender" each day. This process of doing gender underscores the notion that gender is "socially constructed." For example, I need to wear those clothes designed for men.
4. How can studies of other cultures contribute to the argument that gender is socially constructed?
Cross-cultural research conducted by anthropologists, in particular, helps us recognize how deeply entrenched gendered categories are in the United States and shows us strong evidence that gender is fluid and socially constructed.
Mead studied three separate tribes in New Guinea.
In Arapesh society, both males and females generally exhibited characteristics and behaviors that would typically be associated with the Western female role.
In another New Guinea group, the Mundugumor, both the males and females were characteristically aggressive, suspicious, and, from a Western observer's perspective, excessively cruel, especially toward children.
In a third group, the Tchambuli tribe of New Guinea, gender roles of the males and females were almost exactly reversed from the roles traditionally assigned to males and females in Western society. Women "managed the business affairs of life" while "the men...painted, gossiped and had temper tantrums"(Mead, 1972).
In contemporary Afghanistan, boys are so highly prized that families with only daughters often experience shame and pity; as a result, some transform one young daughter into a son. The parents cut the girl's hair short, dress her in boy's clothes, change her name to a boy's name, and encourage her to participate in "boys' activities" such as bicycling and playing cricket. These children are called bacha posh, which translates into "dressed up as a boy."
II. Sociological Theories of Gender Inequalities
1. Contrast functionalist and feminist approaches to understanding gender inequality.
Functionalist and functionalist-inspired perspectives on gender argue that gender differences, and, specifically, men's and women's specialization in different tasks, contribute to social stability and integration.
Scholars who support the concept of natural differences argue that women and men perform those tasks for which they are biologically best suited.
Another perspective on gender differences that is consistent with core themes of functionalist theories is attachment theory, advanced by psychologist John Bowlby (1953). Bowlby argued that the mother is crucial to the primary socialization of children.
Feminists have sharply criticized claims of a biological basis for the sexual division of labor, arguing that there is nothing natural or inevitable about the allocation of tasks in society.
Feminist scholars do not deny that men and women have distinctive biological characteristics, yet they argue that physical differences alone cannot explain the stark gender differences in men's and women's social and economic roles.
2. What are the key ideas of liberal feminism? What are criticisms of this perspective?
Liberal feminism sees gender inequalities as rooted largely in social and cultural attitudes. They identify many separate factors that contribute to inequalities—for example, sexism and discrimination in the workplace, in educational institutions, and in the media. They focus on establishing and protecting equal opportunities for women through legislation and other democratic means.
Critics charge that they have been unsuccessful in dealing with the root cause of gender inequality and do not acknowledge the systemic nature of women's oppression in society (Bryson, 1999). Critics say that by focusing on the independent deprivations women suffer—sexism, discrimination, the glass ceiling, unequal pay— liberal feminists draw only a partial picture of gender inequality.
3. What are the key ideas of radical feminism? What are criticisms of this perspective?
At the heart of radical feminism is the belief that men are responsible for, and benefit from, the exploitation of women.
Radical feminists identify the family as one of the primary sources of women's oppression. They argue that men both exploit women by relying on their unpaid domestic labor in the home and, as a group, deny women access to positions of power and influence in society (Tong, 2009).
Other radical feminists point to male violence against women as central to male supremacy.
Radical feminists do not believe that women can be liberated from sexual oppression through legislative reforms or gradual attitudinal change. Because patriarchy is a systemic phenomenon, they argue, gender equality can be attained only by overthrowing the patriarchal order.
A key objection is that the concept of patriarchy is inadequate as a general explanation for women's oppression (Tong, 2009).
The conception of patriarchy as a universal phenomenon does not leave room for historical or cultural variations. It also ignores the important influence of race, class, and ethnicity on the nature of women's subordination; in short, it fails to recognize that not all men have equal power to act as oppressors, and not all women are equally subjugated.
4. How do the key ideas of socialist feminism challenge the main themes of liberal and radical feminism?
First, they challenge liberal feminists' vision that equality for women in all institutions of society, including government, law, and education, is possible through policy reforms.
Rather, socialist feminists reject the notion that true equality is possible in a society whose social and economic structures are fundamentally flawed. They depart from radical feminists, however, because socialist feminists believe that women should work with men to fight class oppression. Socialist feminists do not generally believe that sex and the patriarchy are the sole roots of oppression; rather, gender is just one of several axes of oppression (Holmstrom et al., 2002).
5. Do you think that postmodern feminism is incompatible with liberal, radical, and black feminist perspectives? Why or why not?
Postmodern feminists reject the claim that there is a grand theory that can explain the position of women in society or that there is any universal category of "woman." Consequently, these feminists reject the accounts others give to explain gender inequality—such as patriarchy, race, or class—as "essentialist" (Beasley, 1999).
I think postmodern feminism is just as ultimate as communism. Therefore, it is temporarily incompatible with liberal, radical, and black feminist perspectives.
III. Research on Gender Today: Documenting and Understanding Gender Inequalities
1. Do you believe that girls or boys are more disadvantaged in the classroom? Why?
I think girls are a little more disadvantaged in the classroom. Because as a result of their clothes, girls lacked the freedom to sit casually, to join in rough-and-tumble games, or to run as fast as they were able.
In general, people interact differently with men and women, and boys and girls (Lorber, 1994)—even in elementary schools. Studies document that teachers interact differently, and often inequitably, with male and female students in terms of the frequency and content of teacher-student interactions. Such patterns are based on, and perpetuate, traditional assumptions about male and female behavior and traits.
2. Describe at least three examples of how gender inequalities emerge in the workplace. How would a sociologist explain these inequities?
Gender plays a powerful role in shaping workplace experiences. Everything from the jobs we hold, to how much we earn, to even our treatment at the hands of coworkers, is powerfully shaped by gender.
Gender typing refers to women holding occupations of lower status and pay, such as secretarial and retail positions, and men holding jobs of higher status and pay, such as managerial and professional positions.
The glass ceiling is particularly problematic in male-dominated occupations and professions, such as investment banking, as we learned earlier in this chapter. Women's progress is blocked not by virtue of innate inability or lack of basic qualifications but by lack of the sponsorship of powerful senior colleagues to articulate the women's value to the organization or profession (Alvarez et al., 1996).
Sexual harassment is unwanted or repeated sexual advances, remarks, and behavior that are offensive to the recipient and cause discomfort or interfere with job performance. Power imbalances facilitate harassment; even though women can and do sexually harass subordinates, it is more common for men to harass women because men usually hold positions of authority (Padavic and Reskin, 2002).
Across the globe, men outpace women in most workplace and economic indicators. Women around the world work in the lowest-wage jobs and are likely to make less than men doing similar work—although there is some evidence that the wage gap is slowly decreasing, at least in industrialized countries (OECD, 2012).
Because women throughout the world also perform housework and child care at the end of the paid workday, often dubbed the "second shift," women work longer hours than men in most developed countries, including the United States. On average, working women in developed nations work 32 minutes more per day than working men (8 hours and 9 minutes, compared to 7 hours and 36 minutes). This gap is even worse in developing nations: 9 hours and 20 minutes for women versus 8 hours and 7 minutes for men (ILO, 2016).
In Japan, for example, women have been particularly likely to face barriers to career advancement, especially in professional and managerial positions. Only 11 percent of such positions are now held by women, due both to discriminatory hiring practices and the fact that fully 70 percent of Japanese women exit the workforce when they have their first child (Cunningham, 2013; Simms, 2013).
3. How do inequalities in the home, especially with regard to housework and child care, reflect larger gender inequities in society?
One key reason women face compromised labor force prospects relative to men is that household duties, ranging from child care to elder care to daily housework, are disproportionately borne by women.
One reason that wives—even full-time employed, high-earning women—perform more hours of housework than their husbands is that women and men specialize in different chores. The chores that women typically perform are more time-consuming and happen on a daily rather than a sporadic basis.
Women also spend more time on child-rearing responsibilities, which reflects pervasive assumptions that women are "naturally" the primary caregiver (Shelton, 1992).
Some sociologists have further suggested that women's greater burden at home is best explained as a result of economic forces: Household work is exchanged for economic support.
Women's struggles with the work-family balance illustrate the powerful ways that gender shapes our daily lives.
4. What are some important differences between men's and women's political participation?
Women are playing an increasingly important role in U.S. politics, although they are still far from achieving full equality.
Women are continuing to make strides in other elected offices, although at a slow pace.
Typically, the more local the political office, the more likely it is to be occupied by a woman. One reason is that local politics is often part-time work, especially in smaller cities and towns. Local politics can thus be good "women's work," offering low pay, part-time employment, flexible hours, and the absence of a clear career path (Carr, 2008).
Women are playing an increasingly major role in politics throughout the world. Yet, of the 132 countries that belong to the United Nations, only 17 are presently headed by women.
Regionally, Nordic countries had the highest percentage of women in national legislatures (42 percent), while Arab states and Pacific Island nations trailed with only 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Women are most likely to hold seats in national legislatures in countries in which women's rights are a strong cultural value—where women have long had the right to vote and are well represented in the professions (Kenworthy and Malami, 1999).
IV. Unanswered Questions: Why Do Gender Inequalities Persist?
1. Name three possible explanations for the gender pay gap.
Many sociologists view sex segregation—the concentration of men and women in different occupations—as a cause of the gender gap in earnings. Sex segregation is problematic because the gender composition of a job is associated with the pay received for that job.
Human capital theorists reason that women select occupations that are easy to move in and out of and that offer flexible or part-time hours while still providing moderately good incomes. Central to this argument is the assumption that women's primary allegiance is to home and family; they seek undemanding or flexible jobs that require little personal investment in training or skills acquisition so that they can better tend to household responsibilities.
Because women's work is devalued by society and by employers, women are rewarded less for their work. Moreover, women's relative powerlessness prevents them from redefining the work they do as "skilled." As long as jobs predominantly filled by women, such as caring for children and the elderly, are viewed as "unskilled" or even "intuitive," and thus requiring little training, wages in women's jobs will remain low.
2. Describe three ways that traditional expectations associated with male gender roles harm men and their families.
Traditional gender role beliefs and practices exert a profound toll on men as well, undermining the quality of their personal relationships, their freedom to choose professions that mesh with their own interests, their physical and mental health, and, ultimately, their life spans.
Firstly, men make up the vast majority of persons arrested for violent crimes.
Secondly, men also are more likely than women to die of suicide, at every point in the life course.
Thirdly, men, especially men raised in the mid-twentieth century, often found that their career choices were constrained by the need to be a family's main breadwinner. For instance, one man recounted that he could not pursue his dream of starting his own used car business because it was too risky for a sole breadwinner.
3. Discuss at least two reasons why women are so often the targets of sexual violence.
Some radical feminist scholars claim that men are socialized to regard women as sex objects and that this partly explains the high levels of victimization of women (Dworkin, 1987; Griffin, 1979).
The fact that "acquaintance rapes" occur suggests that some men feel entitled to sexual access if they already know the woman.
Rape is an especially potent instrument of war, since it dehumanizes the victims and—where sexual mores are highly restrictive—can break apart families and weaken the resolve of victims to resist their aggressors.
UN Women is recognition of a simple truth: Equality for women and girls is not only a basic human right, it is a social and economic imperative. Where women are educated and empowered, economies are more productive and strong. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable (Fifth World Conference on Women, 2010).