Sociology Index

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality generally stems from socially constructed distinctions. Gender inequality is unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender. Gender inequality is sex discrimination which results in a particular individual being treated disadvantageously because of their gender, whether male or female. Gender inequality has plagued women in the workplace for a long time, despite all the women’s movements. Gender inequality is a phenomenon where an individual is discriminated against or receives unequal treatment based on their gender. Gender inequalities also stem from social structures that have institutionalized conceptions of gender differences. Inequality of opportunity which includes gender inequality, economic circumstances, geography, and even ethnicity can trap large groups of people in poverty.

Gender inequality emerged out of skewed perceptions and socially constructed gender roles. In the workplace, it is common for most women to encounter gender inequality as discussed in glass ceiling hypothesis. Companies have made efforts to encourage diversity and equality, but women still occupy lower paying positions and consistently encounter the glass ceiling.

Gender inequality manifests in many dimensions of daily life. Gender inequality exists as a social problem. Studies show unequal access to and control over family resources for Indian women. Gender inequality is pervasive in most of the socially under-developed countries of the world. Glass Ceiling Hypothesis refers to barriers that are not explicit, but are inherent in Gender inequality.  Gender Gap in pay is an expression of the generally devalued social status of women.

When it comes to secondary education, girls are disadvantaged because they are either engaged to be married or purely because of culture. In the Sitapur district, one of the districts of Uttar Pradesh state of India, there is an event which involves men destroying gudiyas (rag dolls) that their sisters made the night before the festival. The long tradition reveals the embedded gender inequality within society. The bashing of the doll symbolizes the bashing of the spirit, to maintain control. - Sangtin Writers Collective and Richa Nagar, Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India. Minneapolis: Univ of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Difference between Gender Difference and Gender Inequality

Providing separate bathrooms for males and females is an example of the two sexes being treated differently. But when hiring decisions are taken, or decisions related to promotion or continued employment are taken, based on an employee’s gender, then they are being treated unequally and unfairly, exemplifying gender inequality.

It’s important to study our biases and quantify gender inequality so that we can understand how to effect change. Mary Brinton, sociology professor at Harvard University, answered a few questions about how the United States compares to other postindustrial countries on gender inequality, as well as how gender equality can help solve declining birth rates. In Japan, the cultural emphasis on being the ideal mother, along with a corporate culture that demands long work hours, makes motherhood very difficult for women with careers.

Statistical discrimination is also cited as a cause for income disparities and gendered inequality in the workplace. Statistical discrimination indicates the likelihood of employers to deny women access to certain occupational tracks because women are more likely than men to leave their job or the labor force when they become married or pregnant. Women are instead given positions that dead-end or jobs that have very little mobility. - Burstein, Paul (1994.) “Equal Employment Opportunity: Labor Market Discrimination and Public Policy."