Society has conformed our minds to view gender based on one’s role in society. This labels the person as a man or a woman and then classifies them based on the “roles” that society has assigned for each. Gender inequality is caused by the unequal perceptions or even the way someone is treated, based on them being a man or woman. It tends to be the result of what is seen as socially constructed differences of the typical gender roles. This is a social problem I find compelling due to the impact it has on society. Gender Inequality can be seen in different instances, some I feel more apparent than others. It can be displayed through gender roles by classifying a man’s role in society, versus a woman’s role.
Gender Inequality can also be seen amongst relationships and how they adapt to what society feels is the way they respond to the relationship. Inside the workplace is another form in which gender inequality can be apparent based on the job a man or woman have. Gender inequality is overall very diverse and wide spread; both men and women are perceived and treated in various unequal ways. Over time, gender inequality is seen by both objective criteria, through the articles that establish facts of the individual issues and through subjective experience, in which my perception and others filter throughout their own minds; causing gender inequality to become a compelling social problem today.
Gender inequality is shown through the generic labels that society has established, based on the individual being a man or a woman. The social role theory proposes that “gender roles in society, such as a provider or protector roles for men and child-rearing and caretaker roles for women, strongly foster certain emotions, behaviors, and traits that meet societal expectations for those roles,” (Bascom and Wilson 2013). A man is viewed as physically stronger than a woman, where as a woman as seen as more emotional and caring. “Expected characteristics of men who fulfill these roles include being goal- oriented, assertive, aggressive, competitive, and courageous, whereas expectations for women, based on more communal roles include, being nurturing, kind, showing empathy and sympathy, and seeking social connections,” (Bascom and Wilson 2013).
Society has established roles in which differentiate men and women, by focusing on how they, as individuals, should portray different characteristics. This allows for the opportunity of mislead perceptions, by the displays of gender in an unequal manner. If a man shows any characteristics that only a woman should have, he may be seen as weaker or maybe even deviant. This is true for a woman too, as that if she portrays too much aggression or competitive characteristics, she may be too manly, instead of fulfilling what should be her more nurturing role. Both men and women seem to face gender inequality, not just one more than the other. They both can face criticism, unequal treatment and stereotypes based on whether they choose to follow the exact way society has classified the gender “norms.” Although society has created these labels, it solely comes down to the individual on whether or not they choose to be deviant against them completely, in some ways, or simply not at all.
Gender inequality over the years has improved when it comes to relationships. However more often than thought of, the power of the relationship usually still lies within the male being more dominant. “Current theoretical conceptualizations of gender emphasize that it functions as a social structure, that this structure affects people at individual and interactional levels, and that the gender structure is, in turn, recursively affected by people’s actions within social relations,” (Masters, Casey, Wells and Morrison 2013). Society has created this gender structure in which it finds appropriately fitting for how a relationship structure should function.
This is done based on the way a man should act and what he should do and in return, how a woman should act and what she should do. It affects those in a relationship individually but also the relationship in general based on the way they choose to interact with each other; following society’s idea of a relationship between a man or a woman or going against it. It isn’t the fact that society won’t approve of being deviant with the gender roles for a relationship, but rather that they may be perceived differently or treated unequally due to them making the choice to be deviant towards those roles. This will continue to be a social issue, unless society as a whole, forms against the relationship structure we have been told to follow.
Inequality in the workplace seems to be one of the strongest aspects when it comes to gender inequality within society. Within an organization, “patterns of gender relations constitutes a gender regime and can include inequalities between women and men in the shape of discrimination in relation to opportunities, access to services and allocation of resources or benefits; all of these aspects of gender inequalities influence women’s and men’s working life,” (Elwer, Harryson, Bolin and Hammarström 2013). Gender inequality in the workplace can be seen in various forms. Among many of the findings pertaining to gender inequality, one of the most consistent is women earning less wages than men. “The relational inequality theory predicts that when gender is a culturally salient hierarchal status distinction, women will tend to be excluded from high-wage firms and jobs,” (Avent-Holt and Tomaskovic-Devey 2012).
When gender seems most important, or better yet, more apparent, it is more noticeable that men will make more money over a woman in the same position. More often in workplaces, men tend fill more manager type positions where as women tend to fill lower hierarchy positions. We expect that “male managers will be able to use their statuses to capture more resources, leading to larger gender wage gaps than in workplaces where men and women are randomly distributed across the workplace division of labor,” (Avent-Holt and Tomaskovic-Devey 2012). This also shows that a man in a higher position, tends to be placed there with assumption they are more qualified, therefore creating gender inequality; not only is this shown with wages paid, but within the workplace as a whole and the type of job a man receives over a woman.
Because of this, people generally “estimate higher salaries for men than women because they associate men with greater occupational status or competence,” (Williams, Paluck and Spencer-Rodgers 2010). In today’s society a woman earns only seventy-seven cents to every dollar that a man earns. A woman may even have the same role as a man and generally will still make less money than him. Assumed they can perform in a more competent manner and have greater resources to allow them fulfill that position, a man is usually given a higher position over a woman who could have the same qualifications and ability to do the same job. Which is why gender inequality in the workplace exists within society.
Today’s society is responsible for the overall existence of gender inequality. Society has created what it sees as the gendered “norms,” labeling a man and a woman individually by giving each different characteristics to which they should follow. This has allowed and opportunity for unequal perceptions to be created and for the way someone is treated to be different based on whether they are a man or a woman. Gender inequality is seen in the established gender roles, the relationship that can occur between and man and a woman and gender within the workplace The societal views which have conformed our mind, are the reasons to why this is a compelling social problem that exists and unfortunately will probably maintain its status in society for years to come.
Avent-Holt, D., & Tomaskovic-Devey, D. (2012). Relational Inequality: Gender Earnings Inequality in U.S. and Japanese Manufacturing Plants in the Early 1980s. Social Forces, 91(1), 157-180.
Elwér, S., Harryson, L., Bolin, M., & Hammarström, A. (2013). Patterns of Gender Equality at Workplaces and Psychological Distress. Plus ONE, 8(1), 1-10.
Masters, N., Casey, E., Wells, E. A., & Morrison, D. M. (2013). Sexual Scripts among Young Heterosexually Active Men and Women: Continuity and Change. Journal Of Sex Research, 50(5), 409-420.
Skolnick, A., Bascom, K., & Wilson, D. (2013). Gender Role Expectations of Disgust: Men are Low and Women are High. Sex Roles, 69(1/2), 72-88.
Williams, M. J., Paluck, E., & Spencer-Rodgers, J. (2010). THE MASCULINITY OF MONEY: AUTOMATIC STEREOTYPES PREDICT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN ESTIMATED SALARIES. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 34(1), 7-20.