‘Wrap Your Mind around the Theory’
Question: Why does gender stratification exist?
Throughout history, women have been regarded as of lesser value than men particularly in the public sphere. This is the result of gender stratification. Gender stratification refers to the issue of sexism, “or the belief that one sex is superior to the other” (Carl et al., 2012, p. 78). The theory that men are superior to women is essential to sexism. The negative consequences of sexism has led to the pursuit of successful careers by some women, normally considered as masculine, as something to avoid. Possible reasons for this could be they may be seen as less desirable as mothers or spouses in the private sphere.
The private sphere, known as the area of reproduction, includes everything domestic; washing, ironing, buying food, cooking, house maintenance, childcare etc. It is women who tend to be located in the sphere. The public sphere, known as the area of production, includes everything outside the home; education, politics, medicine, media, trades etc. It is men who tend to be located in this sphere. These areas signify the gender roles created to separate the sexes into the roles expected of them. Social and cultural conditioning (socialisation) is responsible for establishing male and female gender roles. The process of gender socialisation encourages traditional gender roles to be implemented in society which then reinforce and justify male dominance. Feminists believe that socialisation leads to gender inequalities as women are socialised into passive or subordinate roles and men into dominant ones. This essay will examine the views of functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interactionism concerned with gender stratification to determine why this issue exists.
An overview of the gender gap on a global scale is presented in the Global Gender Gap Report. The Global Gender Gap Index measures the gaps between men and women across a large scale of countries examining four main areas of society. The report showed an overview of the gender gap on a global scale in the four sub-indexes of health, education, economics and politics. The report included 136 countries, “representing over 90% of the world’s population” (The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013). Although, gender equality has not been achieved in any country, in 2013 “over 96% of the gap in health outcomes, 93% of the gap in educational attainment, 60% of the gap in economic participation and 21% of the gap in political empowerment” were closed (The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013). Views upon why gender stratification exists vary within different sociological theories and hold different ideals of what the ‘norm’ should be for members of society.
Functionalists consider gender roles as the key to a functioning society. Gender roles are seen as an efficient way for society to be organised, eliminating the competition between the sexes as the genders have their allocated roles....