What is Gender?
Gender is defined as socially and culturally constructed accepted behaviors and relations between males and females. Behaviors and relations are structured in deeply rooted social, cultural, political, economic, and religious frameworks.
Sex refers to the biological divisions between males and females. Gender refers to the parallel and socially unequal division into feminity and masculinity. Gender involves hierarchy, ranking men women differently in terms of power, wealth, and other resources.
Sociologists speak of gender stratification, the unequal distribution of wealth power, and privileges between men and women. Thus there is a big gap between males and females on the basis of gender.
In the context of Nepal, females have more work pressures than males. The females involved in a clearing, caring for the livestock, kitchen, collecting firewood, cutting grass, grinding, etc. which are their parts on the basis of gender. On the other hand, society questions their maleness if the males involved in such household works.
How is gender a basis for social stratification?
Stratification can also be based on gender. Historically women all across the globe have been accorded inferior position in comparison to men. Men have had and continue to have more physical and social power and status than women in the public sphere.
Men hold public office, create laws and rules, define society and according to feminists also control women. Though strides have been made towards gender equality the position of women still remains inferior. Much of the inequalities in the public and private sphere are due to sexism-prejudice and discrimination.
Feminist approaches explore gender inequalities in society. Over the last 40 years, reforms in areas such as education and employment have addressed aspects of gender inequality. For example, UK governments have introduced anti-discrimination laws such as the Equal Pay Act (1970) to reduce gender inequalities in the same way Nepal’s new constitution also introduced women’s rights.
Today, women are increasingly likely to achieve high-level education qualifications, high-status jobs, and good salaries. Feminists would still argue that gender remains the most significant social division in contemporary society They see society as patriarchal. They see society as a patriarchal one in which men:
Have a lot of power within families, politics, and the workplace, and
Generally, receive a bigger share of rewards such as wealth and status often, men and women do not work in the same occupations. For instance, fire fighting is male-dominated and nursery nursing is female-dominated. When men and women do work in the same occupations, women are more likely to in lower-level or middle-level jobs while men hold the higher grade and senior management posts. For example, in 2007, 19% of men and 11 % of women worked as managers or senior officials. Women on average still earn less than men.
One reason for this is that gender stratification and women are more likely than men to work in low-paid jobs. Women are also more likely to be employed part-time rather than full-time. One explanation for the persistence of gender inequality at work focuses on discrimination in the workplace. Another explanation suggests that women are held back when applying for promotions or developing their careers because they have the main responsibility for housework and childcare. A third explanation argues that inadequate or expensive childcare provision prevents some women from participating in full-time paid work or staying in employment long enough to progress in their careers.
On the basis of gender, women are paid less than men though they work same amount of hours.
Differences between Sex and Gender
Historically, the terms “sex” and “gender” have been used interchangeably, but their uses are becoming increasingly distinct, and it is important to understand the differences between these two:
|Sex refers to the biological differences between|
males and females, such as the genitalia and
|Gender refers to the role of a male or|
female in society, known as a gender role.
|Sex is biologically constructed. Hence,|
it refers to biological differences.
|It is socially constructed. Hence, it refers|
to the socio-cultural differences.
|It does not vary or change.||It varies from society to society with the|
variation in cultural norms.
|Its difference due to nature.||It difference is due to nurture.|
|Some features related to sex are – where males|
have testicles, females have ovaries;
while males have a penis; females have a vagina,
females get pregnant while males do not;
females can breastfeed their babies, males
cannot; generally, males have deeper voices
|Some features related to gender are – women|
have long hair and men short; women
contribute more to household chores than
men do; some professions, like teaching and
nursing, are considered to be more suitable
for women, while others like climbing the
corporate ladders are more appropriate for
men; men are regarded as bread earners and
protectors of women while women are
regarded as child-bearers.
This means while sex is a natural or biological feature, gender means a cultural or learned feature i.e. the set of characteristics that a society or culture defines as masculine or feminine.
Masculine vs Feminine
|Feminine Characteristics/Stereotypes||Masculine Characterisitcs/Stereotypes|
|At Home, Kitchen||Bread Winner|
|Small and Petite||Bigger|
|Barefoot and Pregnant||Leaders|