Definition of Gender Inequality According to Fine (2011), he defined gender inequality as, “unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences”(Fine 2011, pg. 9). Gender Inequality can also be defined as a gender difference in societal status and power. Gender stratification, a form of gender inequality, refers to the ranking of men and women that demonstrates how women are disproportionate in power, resources, prestige, or supposed worth.
Gender stratification and inequality is greater where women’s focus of work is directed to her family and men’s work is outside of the family in the work industry. The social inequalities created by gender differentiation have far-reaching consequences for society at large (Eitzen, 2007:247). Our society’s institutions, our traditions, and our everyday lives, are full of examples of men in positions of authority over women. A person is born and they are given their father’s last name.
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A woman marries and is expected to, as tradition dictates, to have her father “give her away” to a new man whose last name she is expected to take. Often times, once a couple marries, it is the man’s responsibility to work outside of the home and hold financial control, and the woman is expected to take the unpaid responsibility for the home and children. This is not always the case, but is a dominant theme in the U. S. and throughout the world. Each of these has underlying messages of authority, power, and control. Gender inequality can be seen in many different aspects of our society.
Employment is one of the structures in our society where this gender inequality is highly visible. One statistic that applies worldwide and demonstrates how much value society places on women who work is that “Women perform 60% of work worldwide; they earn 10% of income, and own 10% of the land” (Eitzen and Baca Zinn (2007:253). When women do enter the labor markets, they often are concentrated in lower-paying jobs and women still earn much less than their male coworkers who have equal positions, even though there are now laws that ban this.
Women are also less likely to receive promotions and wage increases. Women who are married and/or have children are often times expected to continue to be responsible for their home and family as well her responsibility to her employment. Historically, women have had lower levels of education than men, but recently this trend seems to have begun to reverse. Women’s roles of mother and wife, although vital to the well-being of society, are devalued and also deny women access to highly valued public resources.
A study by Burkart, (2009) an employee of “Human Rights Watch”, was completed that examined 190 countries and their parental leave policies. “The United States was one of only three countries with New Guinea and Swaziland that clearly offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave. ” The United States not only does not provide policies that mandate paid maternity leave, but they are also continuing to fire women for being pregnant or demoting them when they return from maternity leave.
Women also face discrimination in the workplace through being viewed as unreliable, or uncommitted to their career and more focused on children and family. If a woman takes off of work for the care of a sick child she is looked down upon and viewed as irresponsible and unfocused. On the contrary if a man were to take time off of work he is looked at as a responsible and respectable father and is admired by co-workers. These are just some of the ways women face discrimination in the workplace.
Gender inequality is not only seen in the workforce and in familial relationships, but throughout nearly every aspect of our society and its structures. In order to decrease and eliminate gender inequality in our society education and awareness are key. As individuals gain self-awareness of their behaviors and begin to change attitudes, beliefs, and actions, society as a whole will continue to improve our structural gender inequality. References Burkhart , J. 2009). Trust woman & change the world. Human Rights Watch, Retrieved from http://www. trustwomenpac. org/2012/03/gender-inequality-in-the-u-s-today Eitzen,S. & Baca-Zinn, M. (2006) Social Problems 10th ed. pg. 251 Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Retreived from http://dmc122011. delmar. edu/socsci/rlong/problems/chap-09. htm Fine, C. (2011). Delusions of gender. UK : Icon Books Lit. Retrieved from http://www. cordeliafine. com/delusions_of_gender. html