Social Inequality – Inequality and Gender

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  • Created on: 19-06-08 15:50
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3B ­ Gender and Inequality
The Price of Sex ­ M. Bunting, The Guardian
The cost of being female in Britain is nearly 50% less income than a male.
It is women's caring responsibilities that cripple their achievements in the labour market
and expose them to the risk of poverty when relationships breakdown.
After having children women cut back their careers, don't apply for promotions, and
change their jobs and work hours to fit around their children.
Their time out of the job market leads to a loss of confidence and skills
Many women take part time jobs, but these have fewer promotion opportunities, less
interesting work and a widening pay gap.
Gendered Workplace ­ Pilcher, 1999
The workplace is gendered in the sense that men and women tend to have different relationships
to work. There are broad differences in their employment patterns, industrial locations and
Forms of Work
Men are more likely than women to be selfemployed, 75% (of the 3million selfemployed
people in Britain) are men.
Women are more likely than men to be in part time work, 80% (of the 6.8 million part time
workers in the UK) are women.
Horizontal Segregation
Men and women tend to be located in different sorts of industries and occupations. This is called
horizontal segregation (the barrier between male and female occupations). This segregation is a
matter of degree and varies between industries. Roberts suggest that nowadays women are
increasingly moving into `men's' fields of work.
Vertical Segregation
Within any industry or occupational group, men and women tend to be concentrated at different
levels. This is called vertical segregation, however it is a matter of degree, and both sexes can
usually be found at most levels. Women tend to be underrepresented at the most senior
Middle class women often proceed so far and the encounter the Glass Ceiling, they can see
where they'd like to go next but their progress is prevented by the `ceiling'. Desai et al (1999)
found that women are starting to break through the glass ceiling and predicted that the
occupational profiles of males and females will converge.
Career Patterns
About 25 years ago many women worked full time before having children, then withdrew from the
workforce while their children were young, before eventually returning to work. So their
employment pattern had a double hump: a peak of high employment, a fall and then another rise
although not as high.
Desai et al (1999) describes significant changes in the female's employment patterns. By 1998
the double hump pattern had been replaced by a near flat employment rate of around 70% that
only begins to fall after the age of 50. Women are increasingly returning to work after only a brief
period of maternity leave, so nowadays there are more or less likely to be continuously involved in
paid work.

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Goodman and Shephard (2002) say it is important to compare male and female wages across
similar jobs and to control for other factors such as length of service. Women tend not to work as
many hours as men so a distinction has to be made hourly earnings and weekly earnings.
Earning surveys do show that a gender gap exists.
The figures show that men are more likely to be unemployed across all age groups. In 2002/03
the unemployment in Britain was 5.…read more

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At the same time as women have been advancing, some groups of men seem to have been
retreating the employment rate of men has been declining over the past 20 / 30 years. Beynon
(2002) argues that deindrustrialisation (the decline of manufacturing) was damaging for many
working class men: `The old industrial labourers, along with skilled and semi skilled workers were
rendered obsolete by technological advances. Jobs that depended on physical strength vanished
and in their place came short term contracts and part time work.…read more

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However the theory has received a number of criticisms
It is no certain that the contemporary labour market can be neatly divided into 2 clear cut
sectors. In the age of flexibility the labour market has become much more fragmented and
complex. Rather than a dual labour market, economists prefer to talk of a segmented
labour market.
It exaggerates the extent to which the two sectors coincide with sexual divisions.…read more

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Feminist have taken this theory further by arguing that in the modern world it is mainly women
who fill the ranks of the reserve army. Also socialist/Marxists feminists have moved away from
Marx's purely economic explanation by adding some cultural explanations. Married women are
often regarded as secondary workers whose main responsibility is the home and children. This
familist ideology helps to explain their key role in the reserve army.…read more

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One class position is formed in the domestic mode of production, where husbands and
wives constitute separate classes (husbands exploit the domestic labour of wives).
A second class is within the capitalist mode of production where class is determined by
particular work and employment situations.
Whereas husbands and wives form separate classes (in the domestic model) this is not
true for men and women (in the capitalist model).…read more

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It seems that increasing numbers of households ­ especially `dual career' ones, where both
parents work are paying others to do some of their domestic chores. But most cooking, cleaning,
childcare, and routine maintenance within households is still performed by the household
members themselves. This housework or `domestic labour' has a number of characteristic
It is not normally regarded as `real' work since it is unpaid. It is outside the formal
economy of wages and taxes.…read more

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The amount of time fathers spend with their children rose from less than 15 minutes (on
an average weekday) in the mid 1970's to 2 hours a day in the late 1990's.
At weekends it's risen even further to an average of 6 hours each day.
Nevertheless the main burden of childcare does fall to women and this unequal division of labour
has serious implications for women's work participation, especially when the children are young.…read more

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Childcare Problems are the Main Barrier to Women's Employment
Hakim argues it all depends on women's priorities. Poor childcare facilities have not
prevented large numbers of women from combining fulltime work with family
responsibilities. But lots of women choose not to work, or to work part time.
Critics argue that it is hardly a free choose.…read more

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Ginn et al offer an alternative explanation. They argue that women's attitudes to work are largely
shaped by the wider social context and this places limits on real choices available to women and
force many of them to scale down their work ambitions.
Responding to these criticisms Hakim has denied that she divides women into two polarised
groups. She also allows for an intermediate group whose views on work may change as they
gain more experience in the workplace.…read more



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