Sex and Gender

Concepts in the Study of Gender and Inequality

Gender Socialization

Gender Stratification in the US

Explaining Gender Stratification

  1. The functionalist perspective of gendered inequality emphasizes the sex-linked requirements for collective survival. Women and men are seen as performing necessary and complimentary roles.
    • Traditional gender roles (men performing instrumental tasks and women performing expressive tasks) are viewed as important not only for the individual but also for the economic and social order of society. Failure to maintain the traditional division of labor is believed to lead to destruction of family life as well as higher rates of crime, violence, and drug abuse.
  2. Human capital theorists claim that sex differences in promotion rates are due to sex differences in commitment, education, and experience; women are believed to have less to offer employers. Even if these differences exist, this position ignores the fact that women are in a system of inequality, where social expectations prevent them from having qualifications that are similar to men.
    • Other neoclassical economic model attribute the wage gap to such factors as:
      • the different amounts of energy that men and women expend on their work
      • occupational choices made by men and women
      • the crowding of too many women into some occupations
  3. The conflict perspective emphasizes men's control over scarce resources. The gendered division of labor within families and in the workplace results from male control of and dominance over women and resources. Differentials between men and women may exist in terms of economic, political, physical, and/or interpersonal power.
    • Men remain the head of household and control the property. Also, men gain power through their predominance in the most highly paid and prestigious occupations and the highest elected offices.

Feminist Perspectives

The Persistence of Gender Inequalities in Everyday Life