HideShow resource information
  • Created by: hannah8
  • Created on: 17-01-15 22:19

Angela McRobbie (2000)

- Young women today have replaced youth as a metaphor for social change
- They have become a touchstone, and sometimes a problem, for the whole of society
- Girls often present in subcultures (e.g. like 'the lads') but often in invisible roles
- Where they are visible, they are still subordinate to boys
- Girls have alternative ways of organising their cultural life: 'bedroom culture'
- In witnessing confident young women in the 6th form classroom, or simply on the streets, the very idea of sexual inequality seems to disappear
- This assumption of equality is dangerously easy

Broeke & Hamed (2008)

- Percentage of 15 year old pupils achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs
- From the late 1980s onwards, girls were significantly higher
- Rate for A-Level passes is still higher, but more similar to boys 
- But girls have achieved more A grades at A level since 2000

Harris (2004)

- This kind of girl power constructs the current generation of young women as a unique category 
- These girls are self-assured, living lives lightly inflicted but by no means driven by feminism
- Assume they can have (or at least buy) it all

EOC investigation (2006)

- Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black Caribbean women were more likely to be unemployed than white women
- Less likely to be in senior roles
- Even more concentrated than white women in a narrow range of jobs and sectors
- Face a bigger gender pay gap than white women 

1 of 11

Walkerdine et al. (2001)

- Enormous pressures to succeed for m/c girls
- Difficulties balancing teenage life with future goals
- Anticipated difficulties of balancing future career with family

Carter & Coleman (2006)

- Looked at teenage pregnacy with in-depth interviews
- 51 white young people aged 13-22
- From 6 different areas of high poverty and disadvantage across England
- All reported planned pregnancies
- Young people saw parenthood as an opportunity to change their life and gain independence/a new identity
- Motherhood was preferred to having a low-paid, 'dead-end' job
- Many said that their life would have been worse if they had not become a parent
- Given their disadvantaged backgrounds, teenagers saw young parenthood as a reasonably rational choice


- For every 'can do' girl there is an 'at risk' girl
- Do young women still need feminism?
- The 'I'm not a feminist, but...' syndrome

 Rebecca West 

"I only know that people call me feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat"

2 of 11

2: Cross-cultural construction of gender

What is gender?

- There has been a move away from early explanations that gender is the natural outcome of biological sex
- The society in which people are born constructs their gender
- Gender is not fixed

Peoples & Bailey (2000)

- Gender is culturally defined
- Person's sex is physical reality, but we perceive/define ourselves and each other
- What it means to be a man/woman, and the roles appropriate for us, are not biologically fixed at birth
- They are culturally variable- not constant or universal

- Gender cannot be studied on its own because other identity markers help to construct masculinity/femininity 
- E.g. sexuality, ethnicity, class, age etc.

Multiple genders: the Bugis 

- Davies (2007)
- 21 months of fieldwork with the Bugis in Indonesia 
- Had 5 different classifications of gender identity:
1) Feminine woman
2) Masculine man
3) Masculine female
4) Feminine male
5) Transgender shaman 

3 of 11

Factors contributing to Bugis gender identity

1) Ideas about the body
2) Religion
3) Ideas about fate
4) Performing gender: dress, behaviour, mannerisms, occupations


- Same-sex heterogender: a couple where both partners are either male or female, but each of the respective partners is of a different gender (e.g. a relationship between a masculine female and feminine woman)
- Same sex homogender: a couple where both individuals are either male/female but each of the respective partners is of the same gender (e.g. relationship between two masculine men)

4 of 11

3: Everyday work gender & identity

- Work is an important site of everyday life
- Occupies 50%+ of waking hours, often spilling over into other areas of life
- Where we work determines where we live/travel to
- Shapes how people see themselves/how others see them
- Can affect life opportunities, income and lifestyle
- Brings a sense of self and self-esteem and well-being
- However our experiences of work are strongly gendered

EHRC Report: 'Sex and Power' (2011)

- Shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in the UK
- At the current rate of change, it will take 70 years for there to be equal numbers of directors of companies or MPs

Example statistics

- 22% of MPs are women (risen just under 2% from 2008)
- 9.5% national newspaper editors (fallen 4% from 2008)
- 35.5% head teachers of secondary schools (risen slightly since 2008)

Research on the labour market

- Draws mainly on quantitative methods
- Surveys such as the Labour Force Survey show:
- Paid work is the predominant pattern of most people's lives in the UK
- The employment rate for people of working age in the UK is 73%
- Unemployment now at 6%
- Nature and pattern of jobs and careers is rapidly changing
- Unemployment is now a real possibility for many of us at some point in our lives 

5 of 11

Statistics (2013)

- Between 1971 and 2011, employment rates for men and women changed:
1) Men: Decreased from 92% to 76%
2) Women: Increased from 53% to 67%

Changes that may have impacted on the rate for women:

1) 1970: Equal Pay Act (prohibited any less favourable treatment between men/women in terms of pay)
2) 1975: Sex Discrimination Act (promoted equality of opportunity between men/women)
3) 2008: Lone parent income support changes
4) 2010: Increase in state pension age for women (increased the number of women working past 60)
5) 1971-2013: The growth in services/decline of manufacturing (women are more likely to work in services than in manufacturing)

Statistics (ctd.)

- From the age of 23 the employment rate was higher for men than women at every age with some women choosing to start a family and not work
- The gap between the rates lowered at older ages with some women rejoining the labour force when their children were older 

6 of 11

Occupation groups dominated by women

1) Caring, leisure and other services
2) Administrative and secretarial
3) Sales & customer service

Groups with a fairly equal gender split
1) Professional
2) Elementary
3) Associate professional & technical

Groups dominated by men:
1) Managers & senior officials
2) Process, plant and machine operatives
3) Skilled trades

Women are concentrated in the service industries

- Health, education, catering and administration
- Over 80% of women are employed in these sectors
- Sociologists argue that the labour market is so polarised in terms of gender because the labour market (who does what, and who gets the best jobs) is itself differentiated by social factors such as gender/race
- Statistics show that, looking at top 10% of earners in each age group, for the younger age groups the gender split was fairly equal
- However, as age increased the percentage of women in the top 10% tended to decrease

Gender pay gap
- Overall women earn 15.5% less than men an hour and 21.5% less than men a week (Perfect, 2011) 
- Pay gap is widest for senior officials, managers and skilled trades, at 24%

7 of 11

Why is employment gendered?

1: Labour market explanations

- The segmented labour market approach explains that the capitalist labour market is divided into 2 or more segments:
1) Primary: attractive work, good pay/conditions, good job security (more white men)
2) Secondary: less challenging work, lower pay, poorer working conditions, insecure (more women/ethnic minorities) 
- Dividing the labour force rewards valuable workers and keeps a pool of flexible, cheap workers
- Basically, the explanation lies with employers, who structure jobs and employment practices by gender

2: Women's choices

- Hakim (2000): 'Preference Theory'
- Claims it's all a matter of individual and personal choice
- Basically the main determinant of women's heterogeneous employment patterns/work histories is the difference in their preferences
- These preferences regard different combinations of family work and paid employment, and how they want to structure it

Three types of women

1) Home centred
- 15-30% who prefer not to work- main priority is children/family
2) Adaptors
- 40% a diverse group- those who want to combine work/family and those who want paid employment but not a 'career' 
3) Work-centred
- 10-30% mainly childless, main priority is paid employment, may have children as an expression of normality and a "weekend hobby" 

8 of 11


- Walsh (1999): Majority of women are highly dependent on their wages/committed to their work
- McRae (2003): Women have different abilities to overcome constraints, and as such have very different labour market careers. For some women, there are no alternatives but to stay at home after childbirth, or go back to work
- The ability to overcome constraints is patterned by social class

Preferences only part of the story

- Choice is restricted by:
1) Social structure
2) Social context
3) Power relations
- No mention is made of e.g. teenage pregnancy, inadequate housing, differential access to higher education and different returns from education
- Fagan (2001): Survey of working time preferences in UK- now a diversity across gender divisions with both men and women preferring more flexible arrangements

3: Gendered organisations 

- Qualitative methods used to look at working lives within work organisations: observation, interviews, diaries, visual methods etc.
- Gender and race are not something we have but something we do and perform in our everyday practices (Butler)

9 of 11

Organisational cultures

- These shape expectations and behaviours distinctively for women and men
- Women feel pressure to be 'feminine' (e.g. be sympathetic/relational- 'mother' 'aunt' 'wife' 'sister' 'daughter' 'girlfriend')
- Men feel pressure to do 'masculine' (e.g. assertive, rational and in leadership positions)
- Penalties for those who step outside of this
- Greg used the example of surgeons- very 'masculine' work in that it is long hours and physically demanding- a lot of surgeons also still remain sexist 

Women in finance (Guardian, 2011)

- University is 50:50 male/female ratio- felt there was simply no difference 
- Then you enter the workplace, and male peers may change their behaviour (influenced by older men and their sexism)
- E.g. male bonding during strip-clubbing, football and cricket corporate events, golfing, Middle Eastern clients who refuse to deal with women


- Pressures on men to do masculinity as well
- Male nurses have sometimes never touched a patient- like a floor walker in a shop (can't be seen to be too sensitive/'motherly' on the job)

10 of 11


- Gender shapes our experience of work, in distinctive ways across the life course

- This intersects with class and race

- Gendered working lives affect income, power and identity

- We are gendered before we enter the workplace but the workplace also constructs identities

- These processes are dynamic- big changes since the 1970s

2010 statistics

- £1000 gap between men and women's pay after graduation
- Women graduates are paid less from the very beginning of their careers, with men earning £1000 p.a more
- The gap widens after 3 years of leaving university


- Women graduating in equal numbers and achieving better degree results than men
- Recent figures (ONS, 2011) announce that young women in their 20s working full-time have "reversed" the gap
- Typically earn 2.1% more than a man in their age group
- But can this be sustained on into their 30s, and beyond??

11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Understanding everyday life resources »