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Social Problems: Sexism and Gender Inequality. Gender Inequality as a Social Problem Sexism: the subordination of one sex, female, based on the assumed.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Problems: Sexism and Gender Inequality. Gender Inequality as a Social Problem Sexism: the subordination of one sex, female, based on the assumed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Problems: Sexism and Gender Inequality

2 Gender Inequality as a Social Problem Sexism: the subordination of one sex, female, based on the assumed superiority of the other sex, male Patriarchy: a hierarchical system of social organization in which cultural, political, and economic structures are controlled by men Though women comprise 51% of Canadians, they are called a minority group because they don’t have the resources of men. Women Are victims of sexual assault Earn 71 percent of what men earn

3 Defining Sex and Gender Sex: biological differences between males and females. Gender: the culturally and socially constructed differences between females and males based on meanings, beliefs, and practices that a group associates with femininity or masculinity Intersexed: having unrecognizable genitalia or both male and female genitalia Transgendered: one’s gender not the same as biological sex

4 Sexism and Gender Inequality Sexism refers to the range of attitudes, beliefs, policies, laws and behaviors that discriminate on the basis of gender Results in a system of gender inequality Power and Male Hegemony Male hegemony refers to the political and ideological domination of woman in society

5 Sexism and Gender Inequality Power and Male Hegemony Males have greater access to:  Cultural prestige  Political authority  Corporate power  Wealth  Material comforts Ideology plays a role in legitimizing male hegemony

6 Biological and Social Bases for Gender Roles Gender roles: rights, responsibilities, expectations, and relationships of women and men in a society At birth, males and females are distinguished by primary sex characteristics At puberty, hormonal differences produce secondary sex characteristics

7 Biological and Social Bases for Gender Roles To what extent are differences culturally determined? Gender ideology: ideas of masculinity and femininity that are held to be valid in a particular society and time Gendered division of labour: the process whereby productive tasks are separated on the basis of gender

8 Gender Inequality and Socialization Agents of socialization: Parents and family: treatment, clothes, toys, or chores Peers: pressure for behaviour and aspirations Religion Media and language Education: Gender bias: favouritism toward one gender, e.g., aggressive boys and dependent girls get attention

9 The Family Traditionally, the role of wife and mother has been a subordinate role in society Increase in working wives and moms and the juggling of work and family See Table 5.1 on Unpaid Housework (p.190) On average, women do 4.3 hours daily while men do 2.8 hours Women also responsible for bulk of senior care

10 Language and the Media Language often reinforces traditional sex role stereotypes : i.e. Policeman vs. police officer, or calling women “girls” Media portrays men and women in traditional roles Underrepresent women, and Reinforce stereotypical ideas about women and physical attractiveness Stereotypes are a source of prejudice and discrimination  Feminine mystique  Masculine mystique Stereotypes place limits on us and on our behaviour

11 Organized Religion Religion has reinforced secular traditions and gender roles in many cultures, including our own Religion has been male dominated In the last few decades some religions have begun to ordain women as ministers  Episcopalians  Presbyterians  Reformed Jews

12 Sexism in Schools Today, there is more focus in schools on  Female achievement  Girl’s sports  More involvement in school politics Gender gap in higher education and in certain disciplines is narrowing but still persists today However, research show sexism still a significant factor in schools

13 Sexism in Schools (cont.) Research results on sexism in schools shows that generally,  Teachers pay less attention to girls than boys  Girls lag behind in math and science scores  Girls tend not to choose careers in math and science  Textbooks and gender stereotypes still persist  Biased tests  Minority girls tend to be ignored School counselors still channeling girls into sex typed occupations

14 However… “The Gender Gap” (2004) text p. 197 Montreal study on gender differences in achievement in school Boys falling behind especially in language skills More likely to drop out or not continue Have more behavioural, learning and social problems in school Study notes that girls see educational achievement as key to better life, whereas boys rely on traditional masculinity to get ahead

15 Contemporary Gender Inequality Gender inequality is maintained by: Individual sexism: anti-female prejudice by individuals Institutionalized sexism:discrimination engaged in at the organizational level Also, when inequality, prejudice and discrimination exist, the imbalance in power leads to sexual harassment

16 Gender Inequality and Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment: unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature Occurs at work and school Sexual harassment is also a growing problem in schools  The results of a recent U.S. survey found that 83 percent of girls and 79 percent of boys have been harassed Both boys and girls are limited by sexual harassment and stereotypical notions

17 Gender Inequality and Work Gendered division of paid work: women have high labour force participation, but are concentrated in different occupations. Pink-collar ghetto: jobs held by women that are low-paying and semi-skilled. Contingent work: part-time work, temporary work, and subcontracted work that offers advantages to employers, but detrimental to workers. Years of work experience – women are more likely to have interruption in their work histories Hiring and promotion practices For minority women, there is even a larger wage gap

18 Gender Inequality and Work Wage gap: disparity between women’s and men’s earnings Pay equity: equal pay for work of equal or comparable (worth of the job) worth Sexual harassment: unwelcome sexual attention at work

19 2004 Census Approximately 58% of women worked full time vs. 68% of men in Canada 83% of 2 parent families have 2 income earners Women made up 46.8% of workforce 72.5% of women with children under 16 in the home work

20 2004 Census Average income women $36,500 men $51,700 In 2004 women made 70.5 cent for every $1 men earned 3.4% of “clout” positions (CEO’s, presidents, etc.) of Fortune 500 companies held by women At age 40, 90% of working men vs. 35% of working women had at least one child Women still concentrated in teaching, nursing, service and clerical jobs (67% of employed women)

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22 Gender Inequality and Work “Glass Ceiling” and “Glass Escalator”: Glass Ceiling: invisible barrier constructed by male management to prevent women from reaching top positions. Women do advance in the service sector Glass Escalator: upward movement of men in women’s occupations disproportionate to their numbers

23 Gender Inequality and Unpaid Work Double shift: women are wage earners and also do most of unpaid household work, now recorded in the census 90% of Canadians do unpaid work, but the majority, especially child care, is done by women

24 Gender Inequality and Unpaid Work However, roles in homemaking have been changing Women still continue to bear the primary responsibility for homemaking Husbands and fathers with working wives that support non-traditional roles are taking on a larger share of homemaking responsibilities

25 Perspectives: Symbolic Interactionist Focus on socialization and labelling Also note existence of double standard Language is extremely important in defining social realities Linguistic sexism: communication that ignores, devalues, or makes sex objects of women. Genderlects: men’s and women’s styles and contents of language differ. Non-verbal communication: men control more space, than women, including sexual harassment

26 Perspectives: Functionalist Early thinking (Parsons, Kingsley-Davis): Men are more suited to instrumental (i.e., goal- oriented) tasks Women perform expressive tasks This was functional for society More recently: Differences in human capital of men and women (capital diminishes with time off for child-bearing and childcare)

27 Perspectives Conflict Social life is a continuous struggle in which the powerful seek to control economic and social resources Gender inequality results from capitalism and private ownership of the means of production A result of structural and historical relations Beneficial to capitalists to have unpaid female workforce

28 Perspectives: Feminist Socialist: men gain control over property and women Radical: men’s oppression of women is deliberately supported by media and religion Liberal: inequality is rooted in gender-role socialization Black, Indigenous, and other women of colour face inequalities compounded by racialization, class, and gender

29 Can Gender Inequality be Reduced? Symbolic Interactionist Perspective: Redefine social realities with language Functionalist Perspective: Redefine gender roles Educate women about how their decisions affect human capital Enforce existing anti-discrimination legislation and use the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

30 Can Gender Inequality be Reduced? Conflict Perspective: Marxist: abolish capitalism Feminist: Socialist Feminists: abolish capitalism and create a new economy Liberal Feminists: change gender socialization Radical Feminists: abolish patriarchy Black and other feminists: treat all women more equitably


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