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Gender and Gender Inequality (3/24). 1.To what degree is the U.S. characterized by institutional sexism, today? (Kanter) 2. Affirmative action (begin). How much gender inequality is there in the United States today?. White males are abut 1/3 of the population but they make up:

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gender and gender inequality 3 24

Gender and Gender Inequality (3/24)

1.To what degree is the U.S. characterized by institutional sexism, today? (Kanter)

2. Affirmative action (begin)

how much gender inequality is there in the united states today
How much gender inequality is there in the United States today?
  • White males are abut 1/3 of the population
  • but they make up:
    • 83% of the Forbes 400
    • 77% of Congress
    • 90% of Governors
    • 70% of tenured faculty
    • Etc.
is the u s institutionally sexist today review inequality and opportuntity
Is the U.S. institutionally sexist today? (review inequality and opportuntity )
  • There is a lot of gender inequality,
  • and there are a lot of people who are, individually sexist?
  • But is the over-all playing field level?
    • Or even more than level?
    • Are men top dog or underdog?
  • Should it be level?
  • Can it be level without reducing inequality?
is it functional or dysfunctional
Is it Functional or Dysfunctional
  • The view of gender inequalities as functional is the view that they directly meet social needs or are the necessary result of other structures (meritocracy; family roles) that do so.
    • There are three main functional arguments: biological, structural-functional and libertarian.
    • They dominated American sociology up to 1970
    • They are treated with respect in the text, but ultimately rejected.
  • Kanter and Reskin regard the gender inequality as dysfunctional and analyze its causes and cure
what is the income gap in 2000
What is the income gap in 2000?



UNDER 6K 55 136 191

28.8% 71.2% 100.0%

6K-19,999 178 334 512

34.8% 65.2% 100.0%

20K-24999 84 116 200

42.0% 58.0% 100.0%

25K & UP 573 342 915

62.6% 37.4% 100.0%

Missing 339 660 999

TOTAL 890 928 1818

Women constitute 2/3 of those making less than $20,000; men constitute 2/3 of those making more than $25,000

or looked at differently
Or looked at differently
  • Women were three times more likely to make low incomes (15% v. 6%) and half as likely to make high incomes (37% v. 64%) as men were


UNDER 6K 6K-19,999 20K-24999 25K & UP Missing TOTAL

MALE 55 178 84 573 339 890

6.2% 20.0% 9.4% 64.4% 100.0%

FEMALE 136 334 116 342 660 928

14.7% 36.0% 12.5% 36.9% 100.0%

TOTAL 191 512 200 915 999 1818

10.5% 28.2% 11.0% 50.3%

skills sat scores
Skills: SAT scores
  • If SAT scores alone were used to allocate scholarships and admittances to elite schools, men would get most of them.
  • The text argues that part of the gap is bias in the questions, and the rest is bias in interpreting the test as a test of ability.
does the inequality of result reflect equality of opportunity
Does the inequality of result reflect equality of opportunity?
  • Are men really that much smarter?
  • Are they smarter at all?
  • 3 main arguments that there should not be social policies to reduce the inequality of outcomes:
  • Sociobiological functionalism: It reflects the different biological abilities of men and women
  • Sociological functionalism: It reflects the functional imperatives of the family.
  • Libertarian functionalism: It reflects the rights of people who have resources to do what they want with them.
sociobiological functionalism
Sociobiological functionalism
  • E.g. J. Q. Wilson
  • Treated with great respect in text
  • There are sex-linked differences in capacities which may influence gender-capabilities.
  • However, there are also large gender-role differences, creating an unequal playing field
    • E.g. Cross-cultural evidence
    • There is sufficient cultural variation to show that biological constraints are not the source
  • Implications of treating inequality as biological:
    • If the inequality is biological it is consistent with organic solidarity; it is not remediable; and where there is no problem, there does not have to be a solution.
sociological functionalism
Sociological functionalism
  • E.g. T. Parsons: different outcomes represent different personalities, that reflect the functional needs of families.
    • Popular forms : feminism causes family breakdown
  • Problems:
    • There are functional alternatives.
    • Worst of both worlds
    • Organic solidarity** requires that people get an equal chance.
    • Ascriptive differences in life chances are inconsistent with organic solidarity.
libertarian functionalism
Libertarian functionalism
  • Even if the unequal outcome reflects neither biological abilities nor functional needs of the family, it might be that public policies cannot or should not address it.
  • Murray’s argument to the ineffectiveness of laws was mainly directed against affirmaqtive action.
  • Those people with wealth and power might be best allowed to dispose of it as they please.
  • Affirmative action and equivalent policies might create backlash.
  • But, race issues are similar in the army and navy.
systemic representation of functional theories of gender inequality
Systemic representation of functional theories of gender inequality
  • Functionalists argue that the inequality is bound up with crucial social functions.


Preservation of i.e. family

Social functions economy

free choice

Gender inequality


Any erosion of the central social institutions leads to movements to return to arrangements generating gender inequality.

conflict theory of sexism
Conflict theory of Sexism
  • Against the various functional theories of inequality, different kinds of conflict theory argue that male privilege is dysfunctional.
  • Privileging the homemaker/breadwinner family, when the economy and the social structure permits that for very few, is dysfunctional and unfair.
systemic representation of conflict theories about gender inequality
Systemic representation of conflict theories about gender inequality
  • Conflict theorists argue that the inequality is a self-reinforcing structure of privilege.



Reproduction and reinforcement of gender inequality



Gender inequality




Conflict theorists argue that the unfair and dysfunctional consequences of sexism ultimately lead to movements to reverse gender inequality.

example of an analysis of institutional sexism
Example of an Analysis of Institutional Sexism
  • Kanter: Men and Women of the Corporation (1972) (* p. 94; 146)
  • Women in the management training program of a company she called Indsco, did poorly.
  • There was little overt sexism or discrimination in promotion or evaluation,
  • but Kanter argues that a pervasive, institutionalized structure that disadvantaged women.
  • Recall main finding: There is an informal structure that is the problem. It is what needs to be changed.
  • Women were a numerical minority.
    • A popular usage of “token” refers to the motives for the hire – I.e. to look as though one is diverse
    • This is not Kanter’s usage, though a diversity hire is often also a token in her sense, namely:
    • A numerical minority entering an institutional arena that had long been dominated by men
  • Feagin referred to this as a “critical mass”
  • Kanter argued this leads to hyper-visibility, lack of role models and lack of support that produce non-level playing fields.
hyper visibility of tokens
Hyper-visibility of tokens
  • 1st effect of tokenism: everything that the women did (both on and off business hours) was more visible and gossiped about than the actions of the men.
  • Operating in a goldfish bowl is intrinsically difficult. E.g.s
  • And this is doubly true if there are pressures to be “one of the guys.”
double binds on female tokens
Double-binds on female tokens
  • Managerial candidates had to obtain high ratings both from their peers and from senior executives.
  • Sustaining a high level of competition and of camaraderie was usually done by sexual jokes and tales of sexual exploits.
  • Interrupting it with “Do you mind if I tell this story?” produced double-binds:
    • “Yes” means she is a wet blanket and a prude.
    • “No” means she is a tart or a whore.
feedbacks involving numbers
Feedbacks involving numbers:


Hyper-visibility and lack of models or supports


Tokenism (i.e. small numbers of women

Lack of success by the tokens


Small numbers produces small numbers.

A group’s success produces more success; a group’s failure produces more failure.

existing roles
Existing roles
  • The existing roles for women, adopted from family roles, were not associated with managerial effectiveness. They were:
    • Mother, nurturer, supplies support.
    • Kid sister, pet, needs protection.
    • Maiden aunt, mannish “iron maiden,” dyke.
    • Seductress, hot, loose.
  • While it is possible to change existing roles, it is like creating a new language at the same time one is communicating in it.
cooptation and prot g s
Cooptation and protégés
  • Senior management adopted protégés that like themselves, with whom they identified.
  • Often in locker-room contacts,
  • Avoiding jealousy at home,
  • and solving trust issues.
  • “Cronyism” or “old boy networks.”
  • For these reasons, women had more difficulty becoming a protégé.
feedbacks involving roles and stereotyping
Feedbacks involving roles and stereotyping:


Women perceived in terms of family roles


Women largely absent from managerial positions

Lack of evaluation of managerial competence


Lack of role models produces stereotyping and suspicion that is a self-fulfilling prophecy that produces lack of role models.

effects on the motivation of the women
Effects on the motivation of the women
  • The women often ended up becoming less motivated to individual advancement.
  • Kanter argues that this was institutionally created: any group which experiences:
    • A glass ceiling,
    • Less autonomy, or
    • more menial tasks
  • Aims tend to shift to the achievable.
feedbacks involving motivation and a glass ceiling
Feedbacks involving motivation and a glass ceiling:


Women shift priorities to friendships and family roles


Women given menial and unrewarding positions

Lack of female success in executive positions


Lack of responsibility, lack of autonomy, or low expectations of success all cause people to shift their motivations to shperes where they expect higher reward.

the result of institutional sexism
The result of institutional sexism
  • It was not impossible for women to succeed at Indsco, but what Kanter aimed to explain was the lower rate.
  • The problem was not individual sexism and/or discrimination, but the fact that
  • the existing culture and social structure was unfriendly, unsupportive, and more difficult for the women.
  • Reasons for differences or effectiveness of policies in changing such cultures or social structures in firms are researchable.
policy implications
Policy Implications
  • On the one hand, since virtually none of the disadvantage of women was the result of individual discrimination, harassment, etc. it would not be affected by such laws.
  • On the other hand, neither the numerical minority status of women, nor the institutional arrangements were beyond remedy.
  • Even when the source of the problem is outside (e.g. family) it can be buffered.
  • A similar structure of racial disadvantage and tokenism existed in the army, Sun Oil, etc.
  • We shall pursue the specific issues of meritocracy next class
affirmative action
Affirmative Action
  • The sources of disadvantage that involve numbers or role models would be changed by changing the numbers or producing the role models.
  • Major political conflicts today center on affirmative action, which is often perceived as a system of gender/racial preference.
  • There is both widespread support for leveling the playing field,
  • and widespread opposition to “quotas” or “preferences”