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Gender and Gender Stratification

Gender and Gender Stratification

Author: Paul Hannan

Recognize the relationship between gender and inequality.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain Globe Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on gender and gender stratification. As always, don't be afraid pause, stop, rewind or even fast forward to make sure get the most out of this tutorial.

So today we're going to be looking at gender and gender stratification. Let's start by looking at gender. Now gender is actually a socially constructed term. So it's important that we think about sex being something different. Sex is more of a scientific term. It biologically is categorizing animals as male or female.

Gender, on the other hand, is, again, socially constructed. And it's traits that are kind of associated with being male and female. These traits can be in the form of statuses and roles. But, again, it's socially constructed, so it doesn't translate to the sex of somebody.

Now an important thing that ties into gender is gender stratification. Any time you see the word stratification you can think about things being divided into layers. Thus, the picture of the globe there with layers underneath it or you could think about a piece of cake with different layers. So when you look at gender stratification, that is dividing gender into different layers.

And it's basically ranking groups based on perceived differences between men and women. And, really, the result of that ranking is that in society, modern society, it's very unequal between men and women. Men have considerable much more power in many different realms, and you could almost say all different realms.

Now Margaret Mead is a famous anthropologist, and she looked at gender and how gender is culturally transmitted. So she actually traveled to New Guinea and looked at pre-industrial societies. To help maybe define what she is looking at, again, she's looking at male and female. But she's looking at specifically not male and female. She's looking at gender, so feminine versus masculine.

So Mead saw feminine as being actions that are cooperative, you show empathy, you're sensitive, those fall underneath the feminine. On the other hand, masculine is competitive, independent, and non-emotional. So she went to New Guinea and studied these pre-industrial societies. She found some that the whole tribe, the whole group of people, were feminine. The whole group worked cooperatively, showed empathy, sympathized with each other, showed what we would call feminine traits.

And she found another group that was masculine. Everyone in the group-- not males, not females. Both males and females were competitive, independent, non-emotional. And then she found another group that was a mixture of both. So that's one of the ways that she argued that it's culturally transmitted. If you can have males who show the side of feminism and you can have females that show the side of masculinity, it can't be something that's transmitted biologically.

Another person who looked at gender was George Murdock. Now Murdock didn't argue that it was purely biological. But he found some things that helped support the case that it might be biologically linked. Now he's another anthropologist, and he tried to look at different cultures of pre-industrial societies, and really compare the way that gender worked in them. And he found some interesting things.

He found that, across most societies, that women were in charge of cooking. On the other hand, he found that in almost every single society, men were in charge of hunting. But then he found other tasks that were-- could easily be either. So farming and construction, for example, sometimes males did that and sometimes females did that.

So today's takeaway message-- gender is the socially constructed identity associated with being male or female. And gender stratification is the rankings of different groups, so that seeing the difference between the statuses between men and women. Margaret Mead was a famous anthropologist who defined masculinity and femininity as being socially constructed. And George Murdock compared different pre-industrial societies, and found that there were some things that generally males did, some things generally females did, and some things that could be done by either group.

Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work. And, hopefully, you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know

The socially constructed identity (statuses and roles) associated with being male or female.

Gender Stratification

The ranking of groups based on perceived differences in the status of group members, in this case between men and women.

People to Know
George Murdock

An American anthropologist who studied cross-cultural comparisons of preindustrial societies.

Margaret Mead

An American cultural anthropologist whose work focused on gender.