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  1. 1. Introduction to Sociology: Gender
  2. 2. Gender vs. Sex ● "Gender" refers to a person's perceived or projected social location within culturally established designations between masculine and feminine behaviors. ● Sex refers to a person's assignment, usually by medical, religious, familial, and / or governmental authorities, into categories socially constructed on the basis of perceived genetic and biological factors.
  3. 3. Cis vs. Trans ● Cis sex/gender people are those who conform to the existing notions of sex and gender within a given social, historical, cultural, political, and scientific context. ● Trans sex/gender people are those who do not conform to the existing notions of sex and gender within a given social, historical, cultural, political, and scientific context.
  4. 4. Biological Differences ● There are some clear physiological differences between males and females. ● In addition to different sex organs and sex chromosomes, the average male is 10 percent taller, 20 percent heavier, and 35 percent stronger in the upper body than the average female. Some researchers believe that these physiological differences may have been influenced by social/cultural decisions in our evolutionary past. Even so, when measured against their own body size, rather than on an absolute scale, actual strength differences are minimal.[11] ● Females, for reasons still somewhat undetermined, tend to outlive males. Female life expectancy in the U.S. is 79.8 years; for males it is 74.4. ● Behaviorally, age of sitting, teething, and walking all occur at about the same time in females and males. However, males enter puberty on average two years later than females (it is important to note, however, that females have a clear sign (e.g., menarche) of puberty onset whereas males (and their parents) are generally uncertain of the exact onset of puberty, which could skew these interpretations). ● There are no significant differences in intelligence, happiness, or self-esteem between males and females. However, females are, statistically, twice as vulnerable to anxiety disorders and depression (possibly due to their experience as a subordinate or minority group within many societies), but only one-third as vulnerable to suicide and one-fifth as vulnerable to alcoholism (potentially due to traditional definitions of masculinities that link violence and substance abuse to masculinities). ● Females have slightly more olfactory receptors on average and are more easily re-aroused immediately after orgasm (potentially due to traditional associations of femininities to the pursuit of sexual pleasure and intimacy in relation to masculine associations with sexual conquest and performance). ● Much evidence has shown that there are differences in male and female brains. In fact, the temporal lobe, which is the part of the brain associated with language and emotion, develops up to 4 years earlier in females in comparison to boys (which mirrors patterns of gender socialization for femininities).
  5. 5. Social and Psychological Differences ● Gender differences (whether reflected in later physiology or not) typically vary by society, environment, historical context, and/or culture, indicating they are social constructions.
  6. 6. Work and Occupations ● Women's participation in the workforce has varied significantly over time. ● Prior to the development of capitalism and factory-type work, women played a significant role in food production and household maintenance. ● With the advent of capitalism and labor outside of the home, women continued to play a significant role, though their participation in paid labor outside the home initially diminished. ● Also, women's participation in the labor force varied (and varies) depending on marital status and social class.
  7. 7. Education ● One measure of educational attainment where women have made great inroads is in college attendance. In 1960, 37.9% of female high school graduates enrolled in college, compared with 54.0% of male high school graduates. In 2002, more female high school graduates were enrolling in college than males, 68.4% of females vs. 62.1% males. ● Women now earn more Bachelors and Masters degrees than do men, and for the first time in 2009, they earned more PhDs. ● While women are entering college at higher rates and even earning more degrees, the degrees are in less prestigious areas (e.g., social sciences and humanities compared to physical sciences) and women with degrees still earn less than do men with comparable degrees. ● At the primary and secondary levels, girls don't often do as well as boys, particularly in math and the sciences. One recent study offers a partial explanation for why this might be the case: highly math-anxious female teachers in elementary school pass their math-anxiety on to the girls in the classroom, but not to the boys. At the beginning of the class, there were no differences in math anxiety between the boys and girls, but in classes taught by female math-anxious teachers, girls developed math anxiety and boys did not. This anxiety led girls to believe boys were better at math than girls, though there is no evidence to suggest that is actually the case.
  8. 8. Sexism ● Sexism is discrimination against people based on their perceived sex or gender. Sexism can refer to four subtly different beliefs or attitudes: – The belief that there are only two sexes. – The belief that one sex is superior to the others. – The belief that men and women (as well as other genders) are very different and that this should be strongly reflected in society, language, the right to have sex, and the law. – It can also refer to simple hatred of men (misandry) or women (misogyny) or trans people (transphobia).
  9. 9. Gender Socialization ● Sociologists and other social scientists generally attribute many of the differences between genders to socialization ● In gender socialization, the groups people join are the gender categories, "cisgender women and men" and "transgender people". Thus, gender socialization is the process of educating and instructing potential males, females, and intersex children as to the norms, behaviors, values, and beliefs of group membership. ● Many of the gender differences just described are attributed to differences in socialization, though it is possible that as yet undemonstrated genetic and biological factors play some role. It is important to keep in mind that gender differences are a combination of social and biological forces; sometimes one or the other has a larger influence, but both play a role in dictating behavior. ● Research finds that gender differences in work and occupations begin with adolescents' first jobs: – first jobs are significantly segregated by sex – girls work fewer hours per week than boys – girls earn less per hour than boys – hourly wages are higher in job types dominated by males – girls are assigned more housework than are boys
  10. 10. Structural Functionalism ● In this perspective, which was developed in the 1940s and 1950s, genders are viewed as complementary - women take care of the home while men provide for the family. ● Much current research, especially after the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s, criticizes this approach for supporting the status quo and condoning the oppression of women.
  11. 11. Conflict Theory ● In contrast to the status quo supporting structural functionalist approach, social conflict theory argues that gender is best understood in terms of power relationships. ● Men's dominance of women and cisgender dominance of transgender is seen as an attempt to maintain power and privilege to the detriment of women. ● This approach is normative in that it prescribes changes to the power structure, advocating a balance of power between genders.
  12. 12. Symbolic Interaction ● Symbolic Interaction theories examine the varied meanings and constructions of gender over time and space. ● Symbolic Interaction researchers have demonstrated the shifting "biological beliefs" about gender in relation to women's movement activities as well as the processes whereby gender socialization occurs. ● This approach seeks to excavate the origins of gender beliefs and patterns while paying specific attention to the ways these meanings change in relation to shifting power dynamics and social norms.
  13. 13. Feminist Theory ● Feminist Theory critiques hierarchical power relations embedded within existing gender structures, cultures, beliefs, discourses, identities, and processes of self presentation. ● Feminist Theory examines how women and other gender minorities are disadvantaged in relation to men and cisgender norms within patriarchal structures, cultures, and processes of social organization. ● Feminist Theory tries to ascertain how people learn to present, signify, interpret, and believe in notions of womanhood and/or manhood as well as the ways these processes generate, challenge, maintain, and/or reproduce social inequalities.