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Women as a Minority Group

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1 Women as a Minority Group
Chapter 13 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: - any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; - preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; -any rental, lease, or lending of the program.

2 Questions We Will Explore
How can we consider women a minority group? Discuss sociological explanations of sex-role behavior. Give examples of sexual discrimination in education, work, income, and law. How do the three major sociological perspectives explain sexism? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

3 Considering Women as a Minority Group
U.S. society has only recently recognized sexism as a social problem, although it has existed for centuries. Minority group characteristics—ascribed status, physical and cultural visibility, unequal treatment, and shared-group awareness—apply to women just as they do various racial and ethnic groups, even though they are not a numeric minority. Women are born into their sexual identity (ascribed status) and are easily identifiable by physical and cultural characteristics Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

4 Considering Women a Minority (continued)
Women now recognize their commonality with one another as victims of an ideology (sexism) that, like racism, attempts to justify unequal treatment. Domination-subordination lines in marriage. Traditional marriage ceremonies provide for the man to cherish his wife while she promises to obey her husband. For many decades, property laws, credit regulations, social-security benefits, divorce laws, and even telephone listings reinforced this less than equal status until recent changes occurred in most of these areas Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

5 Sociological Explanations of Sex- Role Behavior
Although gender identity is an ascribed status, society shapes that identity through socialization. In the process of learning traits and activities that are desirable and correct, individuals internalize approved gender-role behavior as a real part of themselves. These cultural dictates of appropriate male-female conduct sometimes vary from one society to another. In much of the world, male dominance has long existed, reinforced by the writings of male philosophers and religious leaders Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

6 Sex Role Behavior (continued)
Studies show mothers and fathers touch, handle, speak to, play with, and discipline children differently depending on the child’s sex. Children learn to play differently, girls more often in exclusive dyadic relationships and boys more often in larger groups. Children also learn from other adult role models, assuming their attitudes and evaluations. The impact of parents, family, friends, school, and the media in shaping differences in sexual behavior extends to personalities as well Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

7 Sex Role Behavior (continued)
The impact of advertising in reinforcing traditional sex roles and stereotypes is very pervasive. Research on television advertising reveals four significant patterns. Men do most of the commercial voiceovers; women tend to perform typical family activities, usually in the home and benefiting men, but men carry out a wide variety of activities; women are younger than men; and fewer girls and women appear than boys and men. Advertisers emphasize the strengths of emancipated women to sell their products, but more often they contribute to role entrapment by depicting women in stereotypical or sex-object ways. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

8 Sexual Discrimination in the U.S.
Despite educational attainment parity, the choice of fields of study reflects significant sexual differentiation. Women are underrepresented in male-dominated majors, computer and information services, engineering, physical sciences. They are overrepresented in traditional female career areas of education, home economics, health services, psychology. But, advanced degrees conferred in medicine, dentistry, law, and theology show a lessening of the sex-ratio imbalance. 60+ % of women are employed, up from 43% in 1970. Despite women’s increases in labor and in previously male dominated occupations, significant differences in male-female career categories remain Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

9 Sexual Discrimination (continued)
Female occupational ghetto: over 60% of working women in traditional low-paying, low-status jobs. Male-dominated jobs tend to be higher-paying, higher-status. Another problem is the glass ceiling, a real but unseen discriminatory policy among companies that limits the upward mobility of women, keeping them out of top positions, high-profile transfers, and key assignments. Ever since pay equity became a civil-rights goal in the 1970s, minorities and women have made some progress toward it, but a significant gap remains. Generally, the median earnings across all educational categories of full-time workers are higher for men than for women Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

10 Sexual Discrimination (continued)
Stereotyping women as passive & in need of protection infused English common law from which U.S. law arose. Labor laws intended to prevent the exploitation of women became a means of restricting their job opportunities and income potential. Laws have changed but compliance does not necessarily follow. Women do not know their legal rights, or find the difficulties in securing them outweigh the rewards. ERA (Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution) failed ratification, only 35 out of required 38 states voted for it. Failure was caused by opposition of numerous groups (many women, labor leaders, conservatives, religious groups, and insurance companies). Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

11 3 Perspectives of Sexism
Functionalist: Sex-based division of labor was efficient in the past. Such was the case in the early 19th century U.S. Traditionally, men performed the instrumental tasks—goal-oriented activities necessary for family survival, such as earning a living and finding food to supplement what the female agriculturalists and herbalists provided. Women handled the expressive tasks—providing harmony, love, emotional support & stability within the family. Social changes caused by the Industrial Revolution threw the sex-based social structure out of balance. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

12 Perspectives (continued)
Machines curtailed men’s advantage of greater strength for work tasks. Lower infant-mortality & smaller families & labor-saving appliances freed women from spending most of their lives doing chores and raising small children. Values, attitudes, & expectations about women’s roles did not change as rapidly as socioeconomic conditions. This cultural lag caused strain. Redefined sex roles and adjustments in the family and other social institutions are needed to eliminate sexism. Conflict theory: Oppression of women is economically based and beneficial to male status and power. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

13 Perspectives (continued)
High degree of equality when economic contributions of the 2 sexes were fairly even (hunting and gathering societies). Sexual inequality increased in agrarian and pastoral societies where male strength is needed for labor. Women in an inferior position in industrial societies with dependence on male breadwinners. Male domination evolves from changing economic contributions of the 2 sexes, reinforced by sexist ideology. This benefits males themselves and employers who reap bigger profits by paying women less. Interactionist: Examines social definitions, shared expectations, and the emerging new male-female interaction patterns. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

14 Perspectives (continued)
Socialization shapes sense of identity based on cultural values about sex roles. Socialization agents promote sex-role identity & norms by example, reinforcement etc. In socially constructed reality of shared expectations about the capabilities and proper behavior of men and women, people interact with one another on the basis of their cultural conditioning. But, men do not consciously and deliberately subjugate women, and women do not passively submit to men. Technology altered social structure and life expectations. Traditional sex roles no longer find acceptance among many women. Changing the content of the socialization process will eliminate sexual inequality Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

15 Summary U.S. society has only recently recognized sexism as a social problem. Sex role behavior, according to sociological explanations, is a result of society’s definitions of gender identity and internalized sex role behavior resulting from the socialization process. In education, employment, income, and legal status, women’s status has improved but remains far from parity with men. Three major sociological perspectives provide explanations for sexism Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

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