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Introduction to Sociology Professor Castleberry. Gender Stratification. Gender and Inequality. Gender refers to personal traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being female and male

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gender and inequality
Gender and Inequality
  • Gender refers to personal traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being female and male
  • Gender stratification unequal distribution of wealth, power and privilege between men and women
  • Male-female biological differences

Biology or culture?

Physical abilities, Life expectancy, Intelligence

gender in a global perspective
Gender in a Global Perspective
  • Israeli kibbutzim(geared towards equality between the genders; shared activities and decision making roles)
  • Margaret Mead’s research(3 New Guinea communities: 1. both cooperative and sensitive; 2. both selfish and aggressive; 3. reversed-women dominant and rational, men submissive, emotional and nurturing toward children)
  • George Murdock’s research (preindustrial societies: men –hunting and warfare; women –home-centered tasks. Technology facilitated the division of labor based on physical ability. Variations abound in different societies)
  • Gender and culture
    • What it means to be male or female is mostly a creation of society
patriarchy and sexism
Patriarchy and Sexism


A form of social organization in which males dominate females

  • Matriarchy
    • Social dominance by women
    • A form of social organization in which females dominate males
  • Sexism
    • Belief that one sex or the other is innately inferior or superior
    • Institutional sexism
  • The costs of sexism (stunts talents, high-risk behaviors, need for control leading to accidents, poor health, suicide, violence)
  • Inevitability of patriarchy –pregnancy/childbirth and transition; biological factors wire the sexes with different motivations
gender and the family
Gender and the Family
  • Is it a boy or girl?
    • Color-coding gender
  • Traditional notions of gender identity
  • Handling of children
    • Female: passivity and emotion
    • Male: independence and action
gender and peer groups
Gender and Peer Groups
  • Playing games Janet Lever(1978)
    • Boys favor team sports with
      • Complex rules and clear objectives
    • Girls team sports are different
      • Games teach interpersonal skills and the value of sharing and cooperation
  • Carol Gilligan’s gender based ‘Theory of Moral Reasoning’ (1982)
  • Schooling – educational choices

High school: secretarial skills, vocational classes (girls)

woodworking, auto mechanics etc.

College: Humanities, arts and social sciences (girls)

Math, Chemistry, Physics etc

gender and the mass media
Gender and the Mass Media
  • White males have center stage
  • Minorities of all kinds locked out
  • Women receive roles based on sex appeal
  • Advertising home care products
  • The “beauty myth” (turning women into objects to be possessed; pressures men to possess beautiful women)
  • How thin can we get and still look beautiful?
  • What are the standards of beauty?
  • Who determines what is considered beautiful?
gender and social stratification
Gender and Social Stratification
  • Almost 60% of all women work
  • Administrative support and service sector jobs make up the type of work done by 50% of all working women
  • Women hold primary responsibility for household duties
  • On average, women earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by men (2000)
    • Largely due to kind of work done and family responsibilities
  • Corporate women and the glass ceiling
  • Recently, 12% of richest Americans identified by Forbes were women
education politics military
Education, Politics & Military
  • Gender and education
    • 56% of all associate and bachelor degrees are earned by women; Since 1993, women also earned a majority of postgraduate degrees
  • Nineteenth amendment (1920)
    • Women active in local – state politics
  • 15% of all armed forces personnel were women (2001)
    • Culture influences our views of women in the military (nurturing vs. killing)
minority status of women
Minority Status of Women

-MINORITY:Any category of people, distinguished by physical or cultural difference, that a society sets apart and subordinates.

  • At all levels in the class system, women have:
    • Less income
    • Less wealth
    • Less education, and
    • Less power than men
  • Minority women – Intersection theory (the investigation of the interplay of race, class and gender, often resulting in multiple dimensions of disadvantage)
  • Multilayered system of disadvantage for some and privilege for others
violence against women
Violence Against Women
  • “Rule of thumb” 150 years ago
  • Sexual assaults, rapes, attempted rapes, and physical assaults
  • Campus and university gender violence
  • Wolf whistles and pinch to physical assaults “rape culture” –(attempt to dominate)
  • Female genital mutilation
sexual harassment
Sexual Harassment

-Comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature that are deliberate, repeated and unwelcome.

-1990’s rules for workplace interaction

Causes of Sexual Harassment

  • Culture encourages men to be sexually assertive and perceive women in sexual terms
  • Most people in positions of power are men
  • Under the effect standard a hostile environment involves different perceptions of the same behavior

– Derived from the Greek word ‘porne’ meaning ‘harlot who acts as a man’s sexual slave’

-Sexually explicit material that causes sexual arousal.

  • Moral issues
  • Power
  • Violence
  • Rights(free speech and artistic expression)

(municipalities have the power to determine community standards of decency).

theoretical analysis of gender
Theoretical Analysis of Gender
  • Structural-Functional analysis
    • Gender functions to organize social life

Talcott Parsons:Gender and Complementarity

Complementary roles for family units in order to carry out various tasks (instrumental vs. expressive)

  • Social-Conflict Analysis –involves differences in behavior and power. Gender benefits men; oppression of racial and ethnic minorities benefit whites.
    • Friedrich Engels: Capitalism intensifies male domination. (Hunting and gathering societies; Industrial – private property rights; )

The advocacy of social equality for men and women, in opposition to patriarchy and sexism.

Basic Ideas:

  • Importance of change (social equality)
  • Expansion of human choice (reintegration)
  • Eliminate gender stratification (opposing laws and cultural norms that limit opportunities – equality under the law)
  • Ending sexual violence
  • Promote sexual freedom
types of feminism
Types of Feminism
  • Liberal feminism
    • Free to develop own talents and interests - individualistic
  • Socialist feminism
    • Pursue collective (male and female) personal liberation
  • Radical feminism
    • Eliminate idea of gender
    • Egalitarian, gender-free revolution
opposition to feminism
Opposition to Feminism
  • Threat to male status and self-respect
  • Growing body of evidence that men and women think and act in different ways
  • How should women improve social standing? Individual abilities or collective rights
gender relations and the future
Gender Relations and the Future

Are we tending towards a female-dominated society?