Explanations of Gender Inequality

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Functionalists View

AO2a - Functionalists believe gender inequality is both desirable and nexessary for the family to function effectively. They see the difference in roles as arising from biological differences, the women is seen as inherently more caring and expressive than male. This means they have the nurturing role in the family whilst the man is the breadwinner.

Parsons - in a traditional nuclear family the roles of husbands and wives are segreated or separate and distinct from one another. The husband has an instrumental role, they provide for the family financially, they are the breadwinner. The wife has an expressive role, she is the primary socalisation of the children, she's the home maker and the house wife.

Human Capital Theory - Pay Gap between men and women is justified because men have more human capital than women. Women are less committed to paid work and more likely to take career breaks. Men, on the other hand, build up their skills, qualifcations and experience. 

AO2b (Evaluation) - Human capital theory has been criticised by Olsen and Walby. They argue it is not the lack of skills that is the cause of women's disadvantage but the fact they end up in low skilled jobs because of discrimination. Feminists would argue that gender roles are socialized not due to biological differences between men and women. 

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Neo Weberian View

AO2a - The Neo Weberians argue women have allow status in society because they find it difficult to compete with men in the job market place due to patriarchal discrimination. As a result they end up in the secondary labour market with it's low status and low paid jobs. 

Barron and Norris - There are two labour markets: the primary labour market is characterized by high pay, job security, good working conditions and favourable promotion prospects. The secondary labour market market consists of lower paid jobs with less job security, inferior working conditions and few opportunities for promotion.

Both men and women can be found in the secondary sector, but Barron and Norris believe that women are more likely to have jobs in this sector. They are seen as easy to replace, as having less interest in gaining additional skills. They tendency not to belong to unions weaken their position further. 

AO2b (Evaluation) - It stresses that the social organisation of work is essentially patriarchal with men in the positions of power making discrimination against women and their lower status appear natural. It cannot easily explain why women in the same type of primary jobs also tend to do less well then men. For example, teaching is not a secondary labour market occupation, yet women are less likely than men to gain high status jobs in profession. 

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Liberal Feminism View

AO2a - Liberal feminism argue gender differences arise because males and females are socalized in different ways and having different ways and have different social expectation placed upon them. This means gender inequality comes from the socalisation process in a patriarchal society - this extends into family life and the workplace. For the liberal feminsts change is possible if the stereotypes of men and women are challeneged. 

Oakley - gender roles in society are socially constructed. Stereotypes about differences between males and females have used to justify male dominance. 

Glass Ceiling - Explanations concerning the lack of women in top management positions: barriers tend to favour recruitment, retention and promotion of males over females. Culture and Behaviour problems of stereotyping preferred leadership style and 'old boys' network.

AO2b (Evaluation) - Walby - although there is evidence that masculinity and feminity are socially constructed, liberal feminism does not explain why this leads to men dominating and women being oppressed. People passively accept their gender inequalities and underestimates the degree of resistance of women. Fails to acknowledge that women's experiences differ according to social class and ethnicity. 

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Radical Feminists View

AO2a - Radical feminists take a more extreme view and argue patriarchy exists in all areas of society, including the familt they see patriarchy as supporting men's dominance and violence against women in all areas of their life. They are less optimistc for change and promote radical action by women to remove the power of men.

Millet - Oppressive and unequal relationships between me and women origniate in the intimacy of personal relationships. Personal relationships are also 'political' in that they are based on different and unequal amounts of power between men and women.

Radical feminists focus on the power relationships that are experienced in private - in particular, the significance of sexualirt and the use of the violence. Patriarcal definitions of women's sexuality are usually used to control women for the benefit of men.

AO2b (Evaluation) - Behaviour of males is biologically created. Men cannot be changed, women can only avoid oppression by living totally seperate from them. Fails to acknowledge historical change which has improved position of some women. 

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Marxist Feminists View

AO2a - Marxist feminists argue that the role of women should be analysed in the context of capitalist society. The subordinate role of women and patriarchy benefits capitalism in a number of ways. In the workplace women fulfilled the low paid and deskilled roles in capitalism they also form the reserve army of labour to be used when capitalism requires them. In the family they reproduce and care for the workforce capitalism requires and also act as unpaid labour. 

Braverman - Monopoly capitalism produced progressive de skilling work including clerical work, service sector work and retailing. Women have been drawn into these areas of work as the service sector has expanded, while the mainly male manufacturing sector has declined. Believes women have been used to replace skilled male workers and so have helped employers to de skill their labour force. 

AO2b (Evaluation) - Some jobs attract low pay not because they require little skill, but simply because they are seen as women's jobs. 

Beechey - They are less likely to be unionized and so are less able to resist redundancy than men. Unemployed married women may not be eligible to recieve state benefits if their husbands are working. 

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Other Feminist Contributions View

AO2a - The triple system theory argues that patriarchy still means women are in subordinate positions in society, are oppressed and are expolited. This affects many area of women's life such as family life, paid work, sexuality and their treatment by the state. She accepts the situation of some women has changed and but argues this is still influenced by class and ethnic differences. 

Walby - There has been a move from private patriarchy (exploitation of women in the home) to public patriarchy (women outside the home).

'Triple shift theory': subordinate - patriarchal instutions like the family, media and education inevitably produce unequal relations between men and women, oppression - women experience sexism because men discriminate against them on the basis of unfounded stereotypes or ideolody, exploitation - men exploit women's skills and labour without rewarding them sufficiently. 

AO2b (Evaluation) - Stacey - Praises Walby for an "all encompassing" approach but criticizes her for using the idea of structure rather loosly and ignoring the subjective experiences of women. 

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Post Feminism View

AO2a - Post feminism argues women still face oppression and discrimination despite claims that women have gained advantages in recent years. Despite cultural changes that may have on the surface made women more free they are still culturally oppressed by men.

Walter - believes that post feminists emphasis on political correctness and language neglects and continuing problems of inequality which affect all women.

AO2b (Evaluation) - Delamont - feminist writers seem to assume that women share a common position of exploitation and she suggests that there are many divisions between women on grounds of income and social class, ethnicity and religion. 

Fail to take into account the changing nature of modern societies, resulted in women rapidly acquired social, legal, educational and economic benefits. 

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Rational Choice Theory View

Catherine Hakim 

AO2a - Hakim argues women choose to be the main career in the family and to make theory careers come second. This is rational choice made by some women as they hold traditional views and get more fulfilment from their family role. 

Hakim - both inaccurate and misleading, women are not victims of unfair employment pracices. Argues men and women have different work orientations. Some women, usually most highly educated are strongly committed to full time work. Between half and two thirds of women still hold 'traditional' views. 

AO2b (Evaluation) - Ginn and Arber - All too often it is employers attitudes rather than women's attitudes than confine women to the secondary labour market. 

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