Chapter summary imageA gender role is what a society expects of how a male or female should act and think.

What is the Difference Between Sex and Gender?

sex : the biological makeup of a male or female

gender : the personal traits and position in society connected with being a male or female.

What are the Perspectives on Gender and Gender Inequality?

Feminist Theory:

feminists share the belief that equality in work and education should increase, human choice for outcomes should be expanded, gender stratification should be eliminated, and sexual violence should end


the separation of gender roles eliminates competition between the sexes and makes family life run smoothly

Conflict Theory:

capitalism and patriarchy are intertwined; as a result, women are locked in a never-ending cycle that makes them submissive and subservient to men

Symbolic Interactionism:

people’s definition of gender develops from everyday interactions with others from the same and opposite sex

What Policies are in Place to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Domestic Violence?

campaigns against sexual assault and domestic violence, shelters, and counseling services.



  • gender differences help maintain a functioning society
  • parents socialize boys and girls to their future roles of fathers and mothers
  • boys are taught to be competitive and confident; girls are taught to be nurturing and caring

Conflict Theory

  • gender roles are beneficial to men, as their role as main breadwinner gives them power and control
  • capitalism emphasizes male domination, as women are encouraged to spend money on goods
  • Engels: women are the first oppressed group

Symbolic Interactionism

  • women select careers based on the types of work that are considered “normal” for women to perform
  • certain careers are perceived as “masculine,” which drives many capable women away from even attempting to enter these fields
  • differences in the career choices of men and women begin early in life
  • people “do gender” every day, which creates gender differences and inequality

Key Terms


is the biological makeup of a male or female.

Gender Identity

is our perception of ourselves as male or female.


is a social system in which the father serves as head of the family, and men have authority over women and children.


is a social system in which women are the main authority and hold power over men.


is the belief that one sex is superior to the other.

Gender Roles

are society’s expectations of how males and females should act and think.


are anatomical females in Bugis society who assume the characteristics of men.


are anatomical males in Bugis society who adhere to some of the responsibilities of women.


are androgynous members of Bugis society who embody the perfect mixture of male and the female.

Human Capital Model

assumes that men and women bring different natural skills to the workplace.

Choice Model

explains the income gap by analyzing the kinds of jobs women choose.

Patriarchy Model

assumes that we have a male-dominated society that doesn’t allow women to hold upper-tier jobs.

Glass Ceiling

is an invisible barrier preventing women from reaching executive-level positions in the workplace.


is the vast collection of social movements and theories about gender differences, proposing social equality for all people.


is overt and exaggerated displays of masculinity.


1. How have gender roles in the United States changed and stayed the same since the 1950s?

2. What are the underlying causes of sexism, and will society ever be able to overcome them?

3. How might society be different if traditional gender roles were reversed?

4. Which of the three models explaining inequality in the workplace do you think is the strongest?

5. How effective do you the think the feminist movement has been in championing women’s equality?

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