Gender Inequality

Gender inequality are the socially constructed practices that deprive women of having the same opportunities and rights as men.

Gender inequality is a process that has its roots deep in the history. The forms of women's oppression and subordination are specific for every country, but they are still related, as they are based on race, class, ability and sexual orientation.

Gender inequality can be based either on institutionalized conceptions of gender differences or on cultural stereotypes.

All societies are struggling with forms of gender inequality.

Gender inequality resulted in the feminization of poverty with about 70 percent of the people living with less than $ 1 a day being women.

At the same time, the number of men in leading positions at national and global level by far exceeds that of women. Men are occupying key positions on management boards, in international organizations and governments which allows them to have control over the political, economic and social segments.

Another aspect of gender inequality is unequal payment. The work of men is much better recognized and paid than women's work. Women are often unpaid for their work or it is not recognized as work at all.

Women do not enjoy equal rights with men in any country. In more developed and rich countries, women enjoy high standard of living, but they are still not equal with men.

A big change in gender issues happened in the 20th century helped by the globalization of economies and technology development. At the start of the 20th century the bulk of women had no legal rights and only few options to work. Although this has changed throughout the century and women now enjoy much more freedom, have better access to education and employment, they are still not equal with men around the world.

Home work done by women and the basic essential services provided by women are still not highly appreciated neither are they considered part of the economy. Childcare and providing food for the family, which are unpaid and take women much more time and effort than men, are not recognized as a contribution to the economic development of a country.

The 1970s and the following decades saw a big increase in the number of women entering the labor market and thus enjoying more freedom. At the same time, occupational segregation has been also on the rise with some occupations like nurses, teachers and secretaries being dominated by women and other by men. At the start of the 21st century, the vast majority of women around the world is working. However, women are still facing inequality in the workplace, in working conditions and wages.

Women account for about 75 percent of part-time workers around the globe. Women are often employed in the service sector where payment and social status are low. Women often do not enjoy health benefits and protection against problems resulting from the job.

Women are facing segregation even when performing work equal to men's work as its valuation is lower. Work is often valued not on the basis of its quality, but on the basis of who performs it.

The difference in women's and men's wages is a result of occupational segregation which occurs when women and men are considered to have different emotional, intellectual and physical abilities which makes women suited for different types of work compared with men.

The issue of formal and political rights is another field where women and men are not equally treated. Although women have made a dramatic progress in terms of formal rights and political power since the middle of the 19th century, the number of women in key government positions is still small. Indeed, women have fought for formal and political rights such as property rights and access to education that would make them equal to men, but this has not led to a radical change in political representation and the exercise of political power.

Although the United Nations Economic and Social Council has recommended that countries should have at least a 30 percent representation by women by 1995, in 2006 there was not a single country with a women representation of 50 percent of government representatives.

Women fought hard for political rights, but these have not turned into political power.

Women are suffering the effects of gender inequality in religion. The biggest religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism either forbid or limit women in leading positions.

Legal reforms and granting equal political rights will not be enough to eliminate gender inequality. Societies need a radical change and social stereotypes have to be destroyed in order to achieve gender equality.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Framed by Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World
Cecilia L. Ridgeway.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Angles of Vision: How to Understand Social Problems
Leonard Beeghley.
Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Gender Inequality"
Women's Employment, Education, and the Gender Gap in 17 Countries
England, Paula; Gornick, Janet; Shafer, Emily Fitzgibbons.
Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 135, No. 4, April 2012
The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time
David B. Grusky; Tamar Kricheli-Katz.
Stanford University Press, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Part IV "Why Is There a Gender Gap in Pay?"
American Women and the Gender Pay Gap: A Changing Demographic or the Same Old Song
Perry, Jennifer; Gundersen, David E.
Advancing Women in Leadership, Vol. 31, January 1, 2011
Dividing the Domestic: Men, Women, and Household Work in Cross-National Perspective
Judith Treas; Sonja Drobnič.
Stanford University Press, 2010
Librarian’s tip: Especially Chap. 4 "The Politics of Housework" and Chap. 6 "Economic Inequality and Housework"
Tackling Gender Inequality, Raising Pupil Achievement
Jim O'Brien; Christine Forde.
Dunedin Academic, 2008
Women, Culture, and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities
Martha C. Nussbaum; Jonathan Glover.
Clarendon Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Part III "Women's Equality: Justice, Law, and Reason"
Economic Growth, Intra-Household Resource Allocation and Gender Inequality
Purkayastha, Dipankar.
Atlantic Economic Journal, Vol. 38, No. 4, December 2010
Gender Inequality and Job Quality in Europe**
Mühlau, Peter.
Management Revue, Vol. 22, No. 2, April 1, 2011
An Equilibrium Analysis of the Gender Wage Gap
Chichilnisky, Graciela; Frederiksen, Elisabeth Hermann.
International Labour Review, Vol. 147, No. 4, December 2008
Gender Inequality and School Dropout at the Secondary Level
Palacios, Josefina Pantoja.
Resources for Feminist Research, Vol. 34, No. 1-2, Spring-Summer 2012
The Feminist Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society: An Investigation of Gender Inequality and Economic Growth
Braunstein, Elissa.
Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 42, No. 4, December 2008
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