Social and Gender Stratification

Stratification based on gender can be very easily observed through systematic favoritism of men, homogenous ingroup cooperation in gendered outgroup control, as well as very blatant sexist actions. Male control of women, leading to gender stratification dates to the formation of the United States. Massey states “The original US. Constitution denied women the right to vote, and by law and custom women remained subject to the control of men in most states” (Massey 212). Though today women can vote, there are still means by which men attempt to subjugate women.

Gender stratification is very unique, which Massey addresses in saying “emotional bonds preclude the positioning of women as a despised outgroup. As a result, gender stratification relies on a different framing, onethat positions women as likable and approachable yet exploitable,a tricky balancing act that has given sexism a distinctive attitudinal structure compared with racism and class prejudice” (Massey, 213). Referencing the stereotype content model, Massey explains “the exploitation of women requires a framing that places them high on the warmth dimension but low on the competence dimension” (Massey, 213).

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When previously talking about class, it had been addressed that stratification heavily lies in a spatial separation. Due to many shared environments between men and women, it would be impossible to do this. The nuclear family is a strict co-gendered environment. However, separation is still important in the production of stratification. Massey proposes a separate system of separation, saying: “Rather than separating men and women in physical space, gender stratification rests on their separation in social space—specifically the social space defined by contemporary occupational structures” (Massey, 217).

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This social separation begins in occupational segregation. This is done through “the allocation of women to tasks within households and men to tasks outside households” (Massey, 218). This is easily observed through stereotypes such as the stay at home mom and the male ‘breadwinner’. Massey explains that this is rooted in the biological differences in women, being the child bearers due to their x chromosome (Massey, 211).

Social separation also largely involves placing empowered women under a threatening status. This is easily observable through the 21st century gender pay gap. Massey explains “al-though male and female earnings are roughly the same at the bottom of the occupational pyramid, they increasingly diverge as one moves toward the top” (Massey, 232). Not only this, but when looking at a female specific stereotype content model we see “the envied space of high competence and low warmth is occupied by career women, feminists, intellectuals, and“women’s libbers.” When it comes to views about women, in other words, stereotypes appear to be bifurcated into envied and pitied images” (Massey 216).

Through this adversity women have long fought to weaken gender stratification in the United States. The male dominated marriage structure shifted to favor a codominant relationship style, described by Massey. “Instead of male doctors marrying nurses or male managers marrying secretaries, male and female professionals married one another, often after some period of cohabitation that served as a “trial marriage” to weed out incompatible mates before entering into formal wedlock and childbearing” (Massey, 238). Rather than male desirability lying within the ability to provide for the family, female empowerment now caused a struggle for both lower class men and women to succeed.

“Owing to the rise in male joblessness and the stagnation of men’s wages, males became less attractive to women as husbands, a situation that was exacerbated once changes in welfare policy pushed poor women into the workforce to make them economically self-sufficient” (Massey 238-239). This decline of male desirability in turn further led to stratification in low class women. “Given the shortage of men who were by virtue of low income, sexist attitudes, or incarceration socially deemed “unmarriageable,” the only realistic path open to poor women seeking a family was bearing children out of wedlock” (Massey, 239). This can be further statistically shown in Massey’s examination of female birth rates based on education quartiles. Massey writes “by the year 2000, the average age at marriage stood at thirty-three for women in the highest educational quartile, compared with only twenty-three among women in the lowest quartile. The frequency of single-motherhood also rose sharply among less-educated women, going from 13 percent in 1960 to 42 percent in 2000 for women in the lowest quartile of schooling” (Massey 239-240).

The the further separation of class ultimately lead to the solidification of gender stratification in lower class women. While upper class women stayed thriving, poor women further fall into the category of childbearers, as earlier explained. Massey reiterates this in saying “he interaction of class and gender, in other words, has increasingly pushed the United States to-ward two very different gender and family systems, one that functions to enhance the social and economic well-being of affluent women and another that limits the material, symbolic, and emotional resources flowing to poor women” (Massey 239-240).

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Social and Gender Stratification. (2021, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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