[ANSWER] Gender Inequality

Week 4; Chapter 9 – Gender Inequality

Read Lecture notes; read text Chapter 9, pgs. 239-270. Watch film on gender inequality in the USÂ


We live and work in Silicon Valley. After you complete the text readings read this URL from the standpoint of women, and women of color in the workplace in Silicon Valley. Comment on what can you share from your personal experiences of how we ‘measure up’ to gender equality,

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The Biological Basis for Gender Roles are different from the moment of conception. Chromosomal and hormonal differences make males and females physically different.

Health Differences

Biological differences, for example, give the female health superiority. At every age, from conception until old age, more males than females get sick and die.

  1. Approximately 120 males are conceived for every 100 females, yet there are only 105 live male births for each 100 female births, meaning that fetuses spontaneously aborted (miscarried) or stillborn are typically males.
  2. Males are more susceptible than females to respiratory, bacterial, and viral infections and hepatitis.

The explanation for females being the healthier sex is that they have twice as many of a group of genes that program the production of immunological agents. Thus, females, compared with males, produce larger amounts of antibodies to combat a number of infectious agents.

Hormonal Differences

Hormonal differences in the sexes are significant. The male hormones (androgens) and female hormones (estrogen) direct the process of sex differentiation from about six weeks after conception throughout life.

  1. Androgens make males taller, heavier, and more muscular. At puberty they trigger the production of secondary sexual characteristics.
  2. In males, the secondary characteristics include body and facial hair, a deeper voice, broader shoulders, and a muscular body. In females puberty brings pubic hair, menstruation, the ability to lactate, prominent breasts, and relatively broad hips.
  3. These hormonal differences may explain in part why males tend to be more active, aggressive, and dominant than are females.

Gender and Power


Patriarchy is a form of social organization in which men are dominant.

What Causes Gender Inequality?

To explain gender inequality, sociologists turn to the surrounding systems that affect all human behavior. Most theories highlight the institutional structures that assign women and men different positions, different roles, and consequently different behaviors.

Materialist Theories

The most compelling explanations of gender inequality are materialist theories that use cross-cultural data on the status of women and men. Materialist theories explain gender inequality as an outcome of how women and men are tied to the economic structure of society. Such theories stress control and distribution of valued resources as crucial facts in producing stratification.

They point out that 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. They point out that gender stratification is greater where women’s work is directed inward to the family and men’s work is directed outward to trade and the marketplace.

When women do enter the labor markets, they often are concentrated in lower-paying jobs.  Women also enter the labor market later than men and often have to leave periodically because of child care responsibilities.  Historically, women have had lower levels of education than men, but recently this trend seems to have begun to reverse.

The Division Between Domestic and Public Work

The division between domestic and public spheres of activity is particularly constraining to women and advantageous to men.

  1. The domestic and public spheres of activity are associated with different amounts of property, power, and prestige.
  2. Women’s reproductive roles and their responsibilities for domestic labor limit their association with the resources that are highly valued.
  3. Men are freed from domestic responsibilities. Their economic obligations in the public sphere assure them of control of highly valued resources and give rise to male privilege.


Women have had to fight for equal treatment in politics in the United States by winning the right to vote and a seat at the political table. This week take a look at ‘Gender Inequality in Politics’ and comment on that topic in a 1.5 page reflection paper, answering the prompts. Watch this film:

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Answer these questions in a reflection paper format:

  1. The Nineteenth Amendment (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.to the Constitution gave women the right to vote. Yet, gender stereotypes (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. about female politicians and voters still exist. Based on the readings, the video and your experience, why so, or why not?


  1. Since gaining the right to vote in 1920, women have worked in many levels of government in the United States (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan named Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Supreme Court (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Currently, three of the nine sitting justices are women. Despite the increasing presence of women in American politics (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., gender stereotypes still exist. Data from the 2006 American National Election Studies Pilot Study showed that voters of both sexes (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., regardless of their political persuasions, expected men to perform better as politicians than women. Based on the readings, the video and your experience, why so, or why not?
  2. The recent presidential election democratic party candidate was a woman. Did you base your vote on gender, or the individual, or both? Why so, or why not.

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