Gender Equality

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Gender equality
describes the absence of obvious or hidden disparities among individuals based on gender. Disparities can include the discrimination in terms of opportunities, resources, services, benefits, decision-making power and influence. It is important to note that Gender is a social construct which is based on social roles, not sexual differences per se. The dichotomous nature of gender lends to the creation of inequality that manifests itself in numerous dimensions of daily life.

At the Workplace

Income disparities linked to job stratification

Income disparity or Wage gaps between gender stems from processes that determine the quality and earnings associated with jobs in certain sectors. Earnings associated with jobs will cause income inequality to take form in the placement of individuals into particular jobs through individual qualifications or stereotypical norms. Placement of men or women into particular job categories can be based on particular qualifications of individuals or abilities associated with biological differences in men and women. Conversely, the placement of men or women into separate job categories is argued to be caused by social status groups who desire to keep their position through the placement of those in lower statuses to lower paying positions.

In some societies women earn more than men: according to a survey on gender pay inequality by the International Trade Union Confederation, female workers in the Gulf state of Bahrain earn 40 per cent more than male workers.

United States

In the United States, the gender earnings ratio suggests that there has been an increase in women’s earnings compared to men. Men’s plateau in earnings began after the 1970s, allowing for the increase in women’s wages to close the ratio between incomes. Despite the smaller ratio between men and women’s wages, disparity still exists. Census data suggests that women’s earnings are 71 percent of men’s earnings in 1999.

As women entered the workforce in larger numbers since the 1960s, occupations have become segregated based on the level of femininity or masculinity associated with each occupation. Census data suggests that some occupations have become more gender integrated (mail carriers, bartenders, bus drivers, and real estate agents). In other areas, however, the reverse is true: occupations such as teachers, nurses, secretaries, and librarians have become female-dominated while occupations including architects, electrical engineers, and airplane pilots remain predominately male in composition. Women seem to occupy jobs in the service sector at higher rates then men. Women’s overrepresentation in these jobs as opposed to jobs that require managerial work acts as a reinforcement of women and men into traditional gender roles that might influence persisting gender inequality.

At home

Gender roles in parenting and marriage

Gender roles develop through internalisation and identification during childhood. Sigmund Freud suggested that biology determines gender identity through identification with either the mother or the father. While some people agree with Freud, others argue that the development of the "gendered self" is not completely determined by biology, but rather the interactions that one has with the primary caregiver(s).

From birth, parents interact differently with children depending on their sex, and through this interaction parents can instill different values or traits in their children on the basis of what is normative for their sex. This internalisation of gender norms includes the choice of toys (“feminine” toys often reinforce interaction, nurturing, and closeness, “masculine” toys often reinforce independence and competitiveness) that a parents give to their children. Education also plays an integral role in the creation of gender norms.

Gender roles that are created in childhood may permeate throughout life and help to structure parenting and marriage, especially in relation to work in and outside home. Despite the increasing number of women in the labor force, women are still responsible for the majority of domestic chores and childcare. While women split their time between work and care of the home, men in many societies are pressured into being the primary economic supporter of the home. Despite the fact that different households may divide chores more evenly, there is evidence supporting the fact that women have retained the primary caregiver role within familial life despite contributing economically to the household. This evidence suggest that women who work outside the home often put an extra 18 hours a week doing household or childcare related chores as opposed to men who average 12 minutes a day in childcare activitiesTemplate:Reference needed.

Gendered media

Media representations of men and women tend to conform to traditional gender norms, reinforcing the aggressive independence of men and the passive dependence of women. Although exceptions certainly exist, entertainment industries predominantly present men and women in roles that reinforce inequality between the sexes. Men are presented as career oriented, lazy, or incompetent in doing housework, and rarely are they presented as caregivers for their families. Women are almost always presented in advertisements for household care products, or conversely the archetypal "man-eater". These presentations of gender in the media reinforce and hold up gender norms within the home as well as in the public sphere and contribute to gender inequities in society.

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  • Jacobs, Jerry. Gender Inequality at Work. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1995.
  • Cotter, David, Joan Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman. The American People Census 2000: Gender Inequality at Work. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2000
  • Cotter, David, Joan Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman. The American People Census 2000: Gender Inequality at Work. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2000.
  • Hurst, Charles, E. Social Inequality. 6th. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.
  • Wood, Julia. Gendered Lives. 6th. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2005.
  • Vianello, Mino, and Renata Siemienska. Gender Inequality: A Comparative Study of Discrimination and Participation. Newbury Park, California: SAGE Publications Ltd., 1990.
  • Jacobs, Jerry, and Kathleen Gerson. The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2004.
  • Friedman, Ellen, and Jennifer Marshall. Issues of Gender. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.

See Also

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  • Page created by Denis, 11/04/2008
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