“Men Working” signs have attracted the attention of Cynthia Good. Good is the Chief Executive Officer of a business magazine published for women. The main office of Pink magazine is situated near a construction site. Good seeing the sign of “Men Working” felt the need to put forth concerns regarding gender issues that it instigates. Sometime in July, the police officer received a complaint about the sign being vandalized. It then read “Women Working,” with the letters “w” and “o” added through spray paints. Police officers went directly to Good to ask whether she had something to do with incident. She neither confirmed nor denied. Good only said that she would finance the signs being put up on the construction site if they were clearly neutral to gender. (Romero, 2008)
Following confrontation with police officers, Good was motivated to inform the public her plea for gender neutrality and sensitivity. She sent letters containing her concerns to officials of the city government and the state government as if to demand for the removal of signs like the “Men Working” sign. Her efforts to fight for gender-related issues paid off as the state government of Atlanta agreed to do something about it. Old signs that indicated gender prejudice were replaced requiring the state government to pay for $22 each, and the new signs that will be used in the future cost $122 each. (Romero, 2008)
The issue about gender insensitive signs being used in construction sites does not only relate to existing issues about male-female inequality. It also addresses the industry of physical jobs, such as construction. “Men Working” signs in construction areas mean that only males are capable of doing physically demanding jobs. It also ignores the population of women who have been working in the field of construction for the past years. Good’s complaints raised the awareness of the government who promised to make sure that the matter will be addressed promptly. (Romero, 2008)
The issue discussed in the article by Romero is highly related to the concepts and perspectives of sociology because it talks about the age-old concern of gender, or gender inequality for that matter. It is in one of the issues that sociology confronts defining the clear connection between the points made by Good and gender equality. One aspect of sociology is to study the concepts and perceptions regarding gender and the relationships between the male and female population. Two of the most common terms being used to describe the unbalanced way of how some members of society see men and women are gender bias and discrimination due to gender differences. The “Men Working” sign Good saw in the construction site was clearly racketing gender bias and discrimination just by the mere mention of the word “man.”
Gender bias means that an individual asserts information that is clearly a representation of one’s narrow-minded views. Bias is a personal view that does not support the truth, but veers away from it. Discrimination on the other hand is an act done towards other people in order to express prejudice or bias. (Bown & Griffiths, 2008) It is the act that adapts the concept of discrimination into ones’ behavior towards other ideologies and other people.
The “Men Working” sign clearly displays gender bias and discrimination because it is androcentric in nature. Androcentric means that views and beliefs are subjugated by the male population, ignoring the significance of the female population. (Bown & Griffiths, 2008) It was clearly stated in the article that although construction sites are dominated by the male population, there is still a marginal population of which women take part in the field of construction. (Romero, 2008) This is then basis of why the sign becomes a sign of gender bias, discrimination, and androcentric views.
There are gender-neutral ways to put up signs in construction sights, such as “Construction Ongoing,” or even “Men and Women at Work,” if there is a really a need to express equality. “Men Working” signs exhibit complicit masculinity. This concept in sociology means that although men do not exhibit masculine authority or capabilities, they are still considered to echo the concept of patriarchal beliefs. One may ask why it should be applied to the situation. Complicit masculinity is directly related to the situation because not all men are capable of physically demanding jobs, in the same way that there are some women who can and cannot. (Bown & Griffiths, 2008) “Men Working” signs are collectively claiming that the nature of construction work is only for men, while in truth, there are some men unqualified for the job. The said sign falls under the context of complicit masculinity which asserts androcentric views, becoming a source of gender bias and discrimination.
What Good did falls under the sociological theory of action. The action theory defines a particular behavior enacted by members of society in response to external situations that motivate them to take action. In addition, the action theory suggests that people are motivated to take action decidedly and purposively based on meaningful beliefs and ideologies supported by a unified group believing in the same purpose. (Bown & Griffiths, 2008) Good sees the action of presenting her thoughts and to the public and the government because she believes women should be treated in the same way as society treats men. This has been the ideology supported by women throughout the decades because of gender bias and discrimination. Consequently, this ideology influences the action that people in society will be doing for the purpose of eradication gender bias and discrimination, and eventually allow society adapt to equality.
Women have been victims of gender bias and discrimination in the past, when they were not allowed to vote, to obtain units in education, to work, and to communicate their views and opinions. Since then, women have been trying to fight for equality by asserting them, and because of their actions in the past, equality is now accepted and promoted by society especially the female population. Women are continually pushing for these rights by taking action in government, in schools, in the community, etc. This builds the foundation of the action theory, which delineates the feeling and behavior of Good when she saw the “Men Working” sign until the time she asserted her views about the issue to the city and state governments. Good’s views about gender are not biased, framed under the context of what women have been fighting for through the years.
The city and state governments becomes a social institution or an agency of socialization. In sociology, agencies of socialization are believed to be social institutions that are influential in educating society about appropriate norms and values. (Bown & Griffiths, 2008) Agencies of socialization influence how people in the society think and acts. The action of the city and state governments to spend funds for the replacement of signs that show gender bias or prejudice is an action becoming of agencies of socialization. The city and state governments, through their action, show the people that gender equality should be upheld at all times.
The main points of the article, as expressed by gender bias and discrimination, shows the complex interplay between the male and the female population. Sociology relates how society defines gender, and sees the position of the female and male population in society. The sociology of gender is centered on the different views of femininity and masculinity. In some societies, the female population dominates the male population. In other societies, the male population is regarded as superior. For some, gender equality is accepted. In contemporary times, people are adapting the concept of gender equality, veering away from traditional practices. Different views regarding the issue, including issues as simple as the “Men Working” sign, is confronting society to change traditional ideologies regarding discrepancies on how society looks at men and women. In other words, assertive actions like what Good did are shaping the sociological enquiry of gender. (Lancaster University, 2008)
Bown, D. & Griffiths, J. (2008). “Glossary of Sociological Terms.” Retrieved September 18,
2008, from NGFL-CYMRU. Website: http://www.ngfl-cymru.org.uk/vtc/ngfl/sociology/detailed_glossary.htm
Lancaster University. (2008). “Gender Equality Research Network International – GENIe.”
Retrieved September 18, 2008, from Lancaster University. Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/research/groups/genie.htm
Romero, F. (2008). “No ‘Men Working’ Please.” Retrieved September 18, 2008, from Time Inc.