Gender Gender roles and identity
Essential Questions • How do gender roles affect the opportunities available to men and women in society? • How are gender roles affected by socialization?
Gender • Gender comprises the behavioral and psychological traits considered appropriate for men and women. • A person’s sex is the biological identity of that person. Biological characteristics are the same across ALL societies. • In contrast, gender traitsare socially created and vary from culture to culture.
Consequences of gender differences • Determine the majority of roles men and women play in society. • Beliefs about gender determine the distribution of power between the sexes.
Gender roles and Identity What do people mean when they say that a man is being masculine or a woman is being feminine?
Gender roles • Are the specific behaviors and attitudes that a society establishes for men and women. • How both men and women should act.
Gender Identity • What does it mean to be a boy or a girl, and how does this knowledge affect behavior? • Sociologists are concerned with how gender identity is formed and how this influences social behavior. • Gender identity is the awareness of being masculine or feminine as those traits are defined by culture.
Gender Identity and Socialization • People learn appropriate gender-role behavior through socialization: learning the basic skills, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns of their society. • This process starts at birth!
Gender Identity and Socialization Baby boys Baby girls
Gender expectations were… • Adventuresome, aggressive, and physically active. • Expected to be good a math & science and mechanically inclined. • Polite, gentle, and passive. • Expected to excel in reading and the social sciences and to be creative in the arts. boys girls
Gender socialization cont’d • The family is the most powerful agent of gender socialization. • Schools, peer groups, and the media all reinforce gender expectations. • For adults, peer groups and the media take on a more important role.
Gender roles and social inequality • In nearly every society, gender is the primary factor used to determine a person’s social standing. • In general, to be a female is to be in a position of lesser power in society. • Sociologists want to know how this inequality came to be…
Explanations for gender inequality • Nature of human reproduction: growth of primitive societies depended on the birth and survival of children. • Men became hunters, provided food, and risked their lives for the group and gained prestige. • Patriarchy: One in which men are dominant over women.
Explanations cont’d • Families in industrial societies were small, people lived to old age, women had adulthoods free from childcare. Still held a secondary role.
Explanations cont’d • Conflict perspective: Gender roles are a reflection of male dominance. Men control economic & political areas, and make laws and customs to protect their position.
Explanations cont’d • Institutionalized discrimination based on gender. • Sexism—the belief that one sex is by nature superior to the other.
Sexism • Like with racism, sexism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. • Men who view women as inferior often prevent the entrance of women into powerful roles in society: business, politics, and the profession. • Women who accept this do not attempt to obtain careers in these areas and therefore there are not enough women in powerful positions to push for greater and equal access.
Gender Inequality in the United States The Women’s Movement
Background • Less than 150 years ago, women in the U.S. were considered to be second-class citizens. • Few rights: couldn’t vote, sign contracts, or sit on juries. • Only received the most basic education and most jobs were not available to them.
The Women’s Movement • Believed that the sexes were socially, politically, and economically equal. • Most important reform was suffrage: the right to vote.
Suffrage • Some states did pass laws giving women greater rights: Wyoming, Utah. • 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote.
1920-1960 • The women’s movement was inactive for the next 40 years. • The Feminine Mystique by Better Friedan, sparked action once again. She rejected the idea that women were OK with the roles of wife and mother. • “The feminine mystique” she claimed was the glorification of such roles, and a ploy to keep women in secondary position in society.
Education • Prior to 1979, women were under-represented in college and universities. • Today, women make up nearly 60% of the total college population. • However, there are distinctions in degree majors.
Education • Pursue degrees in: • Physical science • Engineering • Architecture • Pursue degrees in: • Education • The humanities • Library-science • Women make up 57% of those in graduate school, yet are less likely to pursue doctorates or professional degrees. Men Women
Education Who’s earning what?
College and high school athletics • In the early 1970s, funding for women’s sports was nonexistent. • Education Amendment Act of 1972, or Title IX bars discrimination on the basis of gender in any program—including athletics—at any educational institution receiving federal funds.
The workforce • One thing that has changed little: the wage gap– the level of women’s income relative to that of men. Today, the gap is around 75 cents to the dollar. • On average, women earn nearly $10,000 less than men annually.
The workforce • The glass ceiling: is the invisible barrier that prevents women from gaining upper-level positions in business.
The workforce • Sociologist Arlie Hochschild noted that working wives work a second shift, after their day at work, they also have household duties to complete.
Politics • Women make up over 52% of the voting population and are more likely to vote in elections. • Today women hold 16% of U.S. Representative seats and 12% of U.S. Senate seats. • High profile politicians: Hillary Rodham-Clinton, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin