Perspectives - gender inequality

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 07-05-20 09:13

Males and gender inequalities - Mac and Ghaill (19

  • GCSE results consistently show girls gain more A*-C grades than boys
  • Government data shows boys are twice as likely to have a special educational need or literacy problems and are 4 times more likely to be excluded from school
  • DfE (2008): white working-class boys are the largest underachieving group in education
  • Department of health (2010): Females are likely to live 4 years longer than males
  • ONS (2010): Men develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women
  • More than 95% of people killed in the workplace every year are men
  • ONS (2010): Men work 39 hours a week and women work 34
  • Warin et al (1995)
    • Studied 95 families in Rochdale and found the majority of fathers, mothers and teen children thought the father should be the breadwinner
    • Fathers felt under pressure to provide for families and this was intensified by teenage children demanding consumer goods and designer labels
    • Men who were in low-paid jobs or sick, disabled or unemployed were frustrated and sad they couldn't supply what their family wanted
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Evaluation of male inequalities

  • Feminists agree male inequalities are minor compared to what women face
  • Natasha Walter (2008): "There is more debate to be had about the sacrifices that men make, but obviously, I wouldn't go so far as to say that shows women hold all the cards. You have to look at structural inequality. Sexism against men doesn't exist in the same way because of the way the system is balanced"
  • It may be argued this shows the labour market continues to favour men and that this is a crucial way which inequality is maintained
  • In 2012, there were still 13,917,000 males in full-time employment compared to 7,682,000 females
  • There were 3,048,000 males in part-time employment compared to 7,533,000 females
  • The gender pay gap persists 
    • In almost every profession men get paid more than women
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The development of feminism

  • The main explanation for gender inequalities comes from feminism
  • There are different strands of feminism but most share the same core beliefs
  • They generally agree that gender inequalities form the major division in society
  • Most feminists also see gender relations as being based on conflict and exploitation of women by men
  • They share the view that much of culture has been shaped by men and neglects the contribution that women have made in society 
  • Feminist thinkers have, at times, tried to introduce new vocabulary  to counter the disregard that women have suffered in culture such as malestream
  • Feminists believe the experiences of women have been understudied as men study men and believe it can also be generalised to women
  • A key aim of feminist sociologists is to redress this imbalance by focusing on issues that affect gender relationships and the role of women in society 
  • Some have devised their own methods to carry out research and most use qualitative methods to understand the women's experiences
  • They are often keen to empower the women they are studying because they believe women are oppressed in all areas of social life and want to treat them as equals
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Preference theory: Hakim (2006)

  • She is extremely critical of most feminist theories
  • She argues women are not victims of unfair employment practices but have preferences and make rational choices
  • They work part-time to balance childcare, housework and paid employment because they choose to put childcare first
  • She argues that a lack of affordable childcare is not a major barrier to employment because women choose childrearing over employment
  • Women are not as career-focused as men and workplace inequalities are due to different behaviours
  • She contends that men and women still behave differently in the workplace and this relates to broader life goals and differences in the importance of family
  • There are 3 women's work-lifestyle preferences today
    • Home-centred: Prioritise family life and children - 20% of women
    • Adaptive: women who want to combine work and family - 60% of women
    • Work-centred: Mainly childless women - 20% of women
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Critics of Hakim

  • She has been heavily criticised by feminists such as Ginn et al points out it is often employers attitudes not women's attitudes that confine women to low-paid, part-time and insecure work
  • Many feminists also criticise her for ignoring the power of patriarchy
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  • A perspective based on the view society is made of different parts which contribute to the overall functioning of society
  • Functionalists argue men and women have different roles that are based on biological  differences
  • Functionalists say because women give birth and breastfeed it is natural they will raise a child so men are the breadwinners
  • Murdoch found this was a common role in almost 200 societies 
  • Parsons and Bales (1955): men have the instrumental role and women have the expressive role
  • Human capital theory explains the inequalities in the workplace through human capital or knowledge
  • Ragstogi (2002): Human capital is knowledge, competency, attitude and behaviour embedded in an individual
  • This has been used to support the idea of meritocracy
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Evaluation of functionalism

  • Feminists such as Oakley has shown gender roles are socially constructed and not biological
  • Human capital theory ignores the structural constraints in society that may disadvantage women
  • The functionalist perspective has not kept pace with changing gender roles
  • Functionalism focuses on the experience of white middle-class people 
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The New Right

  • The New Right developed in the 1970s as a political and social movement that tries to influence government and public attitudes
  • New Right thinkers are often regarded as neo-functionalists because they hold similar views
  • They believe men should be in the public sphere working and women should be in the private sphere of the home
  • The gender roles are desirable and based on human nature
  • Both functionality and the New Right believe the nuclear family is key for society
  • The main difference between Functionalists and the New Right is the era they were writing in
  • Functionalists: Early to mid-twentieth century
  • New Right: late twentieth century
  • The New Right look at natural differences rather than inequalities
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Criticisms of Schlafly and the NR

  • The biological argument for gender-segregated roles has not been proven
  • NR thinkers tend to ignore the negative effects of gender roles they propose
  • The NR approach can be seen as dated as it ignores the increasing number of people who choose to adopt non-traditional gender roles
  • The NR is accused of looking to the past for a 'golden age' that never really existed as lone parenting, cohabitation and extramarital affairs existed then too
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  • Marx's friend Engels is credited with putting forward the early Marxist view on women's position in society
  • He suggested women's subordinate position is due to the private ownership of property and the development of nuclear family that went with it
  • He argued that the rising of a class-based society brought rising inequality
  • The proletariat-bourgeoisie relationship was reflected by the women-men relationship in the home
  • Under capitalism, men gained control over women which gave rise to the ideology of the nuclear family which restricted women's sexuality and enforced monogamy
  • Neo-Marxists suggest social structure is based on the dominance of some groups over others and groups share common interests, whether the members know or not
  • Conflict occurs on a much wider level than employer-employee
  • Neo-Marxists have sought to support all oppressed groups in their fight for equality
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Evaluation of Marxism

  • Marxists have been criticised for over-emphasising the effect of class end economic factors on gender, radical feminists argue gender oppression was the first type of oppression
  • Marxists have been criticised for focusing on macro structuralist issues and neglecting smaller issues like oppression on a daily basis
  • Marxists have been accused of creating a conspiracy that the bourgeoisie work together to enforce dominant ideas, there is no evidence for this
  • Postmodernists would argue Marxist views are outdated and fail to recognise the recent changes in gender roles
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Weberian theory

  • Weberian views on social inequality can be applied to a wide variety of stratification. Weber identified the dimensions of class, status and party
  • Horizontal segregation affects who we associate jobs with and who generally goes into them as individuals usually go into careers where they see themselves represented
  • Equality Comission(2004): Occupational segregation is due to
    • Individual differences including human capital theory
    • Individual's career choices based on their perceptions of different careers
    • Discrimination by employers
    • Barriers within organisations
  • Vertical segregation is due to men's advantages at work such as
    • Gender stereotypes that result in men being seen as more natural leaders
    • The way women are seen as making emotional decisions whereas men make rational decisions
    • Views about women's family obligations
    • The rarity of men in certain occupations which can lead to preferential treatment
  • Women tend to be less involved in pressure groups
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Critics of Weberian theory

  • Though Weberian theory can be applied to gender inequalities, Weber neglected this area
  • Weberian theory does not actually explain why inequality happens
  • Those in higher classes can use the other two dimensions to influence those in power
  • Postmodernisms would argue that there is no longer a consensus of what is high status
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