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Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity, U.S., 2009. <sup><a href="undefined" style="color:blue">[33]</a></sup>
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity, U.S., 2009. [33]

Gender inequality acknowledges that men and women are not equal and that gender affects an individual's lived experience. These differences arise from distinctions in biology, psychology, and cultural norms. Some of these distinctions are empirically grounded while others appear to be socially constructed. Studies show the different lived experience of genders across many domains including education, life expectancy, personality, interests, family life, careers, and political affiliations. Gender inequality is experienced differently across different cultures.

Natural gender differences


Natural differences exist between the sexes based on biological and anatomic factors, mostly differing reproductive roles. Biological differences include chromosomes and hormonal differences.[1] There is a natural difference also in the relative physical strengths (on average) of the sexes, both in the lower body and more pronouncedly in the upper-body, though this does not mean that any given man is stronger than any given woman.[2][3] Men, on average, are taller, which provides both advantages and disadvantages.[4] Women live significantly longer than men,[5] though it is not clear to what extent this is a biological difference - see Life expectancy. Men have larger lung volumes and more circulating blood cells and clotting factors, while women have more circulating white blood cells and produce antibodies faster.[6] Differences such as these are hypothesized to be an adaption allowing for sexual specialization.[7]

Prenatal hormone exposure influences to what extent one exhibits traditional masculine or feminine behavior.[8][9] Negligible differences between males and females exist in general intelligence.[10] Men are significantly more likely to take risks than women.[11] Men are also more likely than women to be aggressive, a trait influenced by prenatal and possibly current androgen exposure.[12][13] It has been theorized that these differences combined with physical differences are an adaption representing sexual division of labor.[7] A second theory proposes sex differences in intergroup aggression represent adaptions in male aggression to allow for territory, resource and mate acquisition.[6] Females are (on average) more empathetic than males, though this does not mean that any given woman is more empathetic than any given man.[14] Men and women have better visuospatial and verbal memory, respectively. These changes are influenced by the male sex hormone testosterone, which increases visuospatial memory in both genders when administered.[15]

From birth males and females are raised differently and experienced different environments throughout their lives. In the eyes of society, gender has a huge role to play in many major milestones or characteristics in life; like personality.[16] Males and females are led on different paths due to the influences of gender role expectations and gender role stereotypes before they are able to choose their own. The colour blue is most commonly associated with boys and they get toys like monster trucks or more sport related things to play with from the time that they are babies. Girls are more commonly introduced to the colour pink, dolls, dresses, and playing house where they are taking care of the dolls as if they were children. The norm of blue is for boys and pink is for girls is cultural and has not always historically been around. These paths set by parents or other adult figures in the child's life set them on certain paths.[17] This leads to a difference in personality, career paths, or relationships. Throughout life, males and females are seen as two very different species who have very different personalities and should stay on separate paths.[18]

Researcher Janet Hyde found that, although much research has traditionally focused on the differences between the genders, they are actually more alike than different, which is a position proposed by the gender similarities hypothesis. [19]

In the workplace


Across the board, a number of industries are stratified across the genders. This is the result of a variety of factors. These include differences in education choices, preferred job and industry, work experience, number of hours worked, and breaks in employment (such as for bearing and raising children). Men also typically go into higher paid and higher risk jobs when compared to women. These factors result in 60% to 75% difference between men's and women's average aggregate wages or salaries, depending on the source. Various explanations for the remaining 25% to 40% have been suggested, including women's lower willingness and ability to negotiate salary and sexual discrimination.[20][21][22] According to the European Commission direct discrimination only explains a small part of gender wage differences.[23][24]

In the United States, the average female's unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% of that of the average male.[25] However, multiple studies from OECD, AAUW, and the US Department of Labor have found that pay rates between males and females varied by 5–6.6% or, females earning 94 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts, when wages were adjusted to different individual choices made by male and female workers in college major, occupation, working hours, and maternal/parental leave.[26] The remaining 6% of the gap has been speculated to originate from deficiency in salary negotiating skills and sexual discrimination.[26][27][28][29]

Human capital theories refer to the education, knowledge, training, experience, or skill of a person which makes them potentially valuable to an employer. This has historically been understood as a cause of the gendered wage gap but is no longer a predominant cause as women and men in certain occupations tend to have similar education levels or other credentials. Even when such characteristics of jobs and workers are controlled for, the presence of women within a certain occupation leads to lower wages. This earnings discrimination is considered to be a part of pollution theory. This theory suggests that jobs which are predominated by women offer lower wages than do jobs simply because of the presence of women within the occupation. As women enter an occupation, this reduces the amount of prestige associated with the job and men subsequently leave these occupations. The entering of women into specific occupations suggests that less competent workers have begun to be hired or that the occupation is becoming deskilled. Men are reluctant to enter female-dominated occupations because of this and similarly resist the entrance of women into male-dominated occupations.[30]

The gendered income disparity can also be attributed in part to occupational segregation, where groups of people are distributed across occupations according to ascribed characteristics; in this case, gender. Occupational gender segregation can be understood to contain two components or dimensions; horizontal segregation and vertical segregation. With horizontal segregation, occupational sex segregation occurs as men and women are thought to possess different physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. These different capabilities make the genders vary in the types of jobs they are suited for. This can be specifically viewed with the gendered division between manual and non-manual labor. With vertical segregation, occupational sex segregation occurs as occupations are stratified according to the power, authority, income, and prestige associated with the occupation and women are excluded from holding such jobs.[30]

As women entered the workforce in larger numbers since the 1960s, occupations have become segregated based on the amount femininity or masculinity presupposed to be associated with each occupation. Census data suggests that while some occupations have become more gender integrated (mail carriers, bartenders, bus drivers, and real estate agents), occupations including teachers, nurses, secretaries, and librarians have become female-dominated while occupations including architects, electrical engineers, and airplane pilots remain predominately male in composition.[31] Based on the census data, women occupy the service sector jobs at higher rates than men. Women’s overrepresentation in service sector jobs, as opposed to jobs that require managerial work acts as a reinforcement of women and men into traditional gender roles that causes gender inequality.[32]

“The gender wage gap is an indicator of women’s earnings compared with men’s. It is figured by dividing the average annual earnings for women by the average annual earnings for men.” (Higgins et al., 2014) Scholars disagree about how much of the male-female wage gap depends on factors such as experience, education, occupation, and other job-relevant characteristics. Sociologist Douglas Massey found that 41% remains unexplained,[30] while CONSAD analysts found that these factors explain between 65.1 and 76.4 percent of the raw wage gap.[34] CONSAD also noted that other factors such as benefits and overtime explain "additional portions of the raw gender wage gap".

The glass ceiling effect is also considered a possible contributor to the gender wage gap or income disparity. This effect suggests that gender provides significant disadvantages towards the top of job hierarchies which become worse as a person’s career goes on. The term glass ceiling implies that invisible or artificial barriers exist which prevent women from advancing within their jobs or receiving promotions. These barriers exist in spite of the achievements or qualifications of the women and still exist when other characteristics that are job-relevant such as experience, education, and abilities are controlled for. The inequality effects of the glass ceiling are more prevalent within higher-powered or higher income occupations, with fewer women holding these types of occupations. The glass ceiling effect also indicates the limited chances of women for income raises and promotion or advancement to more prestigious positions or jobs. As women are prevented by these artificial barriers, from either receiving job promotions or income raises, the effects of the inequality of the glass ceiling increase over the course of a woman’s career.[35]

Statistical discrimination is also cited as a cause for income disparities and gendered inequality in the workplace. Statistical discrimination indicates the likelihood of employers to deny women access to certain occupational tracks because women are more likely than men to leave their job or the labor force when they become married or pregnant. Women are instead given positions that dead-end or jobs that have very little mobility.[36]

In Third World countries such as the Dominican Republic, female entrepreneurs are statistically more prone to failure in business. In the event of a business failure women often return to their domestic lifestyle despite the absence of income. On the other hand, men tend to search for other employment as the household is not a priority.[37]

The gender earnings ratio suggests that there has been an increase in women’s earnings comparative to men. Men’s plateau in earnings began after the 1970s, allowing for the increase in women’s wages to close the ratio between incomes. Despite the smaller ratio between men and women’s wages, disparity still exists. Census[38] data suggests that women’s earnings are 71 percent of men's earnings in 1999.[31]

The gendered wage gap varies in its width among different races. Whites comparatively have the greatest wage gap between the genders. With whites, women earn 78% of the wages that white men do. With African Americans, women earn 90% of the wages that African American men do.

There are some exceptions where women earn more than men: According to a survey on gender pay inequality by the International Trade Union Confederation, female workers in the Gulf state of Bahrain earn 40 percent more than male workers.[39]

In 2014, a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) reveals the wage gap between Cambodian women factory workers and other male counterparts. There was a $25 USD monthly pay difference conveying that women have a much lower power and being devalued not only at home but also in the workplace.[40]

The gender gap also appeared to narrow considerably beginning in the mid-1960s. Where some 5% of first-year students in professional programs were female in 1965, by 1985 this number had jumped to 40% in law and medicine, and over 30% in dentistry and business school.[41] Before the highly effective birth control pill was available, women planning professional careers, which required a long-term, expensive commitment, had to "pay the penalty of abstinence or cope with considerable uncertainty regarding pregnancy."[42] This control over their reproductive decisions allowed women to more easily make long-term decisions about their education and professional opportunities. Women are highly underrepresented on boards of directors and in senior positions in the private sector.[43]

Additionally, with reliable birth control, young men and women had more reason to delay marriage. This meant that the marriage market available to any women who "delay[ed] marriage to pursue a career... would not be as depleted. Thus the Pill could have influenced women's careers, college majors, professional degrees, and the age at marriage."[44]

Studies on sexism in science and technology fields have produced conflicting results. Corinne et al. found that science faculty of both sexes rated a male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than an identical female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant.[45] Williams and Ceci, however, found that science and technology faculty of both sexes "preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles" for tenure-track positions.[46] Studies show parents are more likely to expect their sons, rather than their daughters, to work in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field – even when their 15-year-old boys and girls perform at the same level in mathematics.[47] There are more men than women trained as dentists, this trend has been changing.[48]

A survey by the U.K. Office for National Statistics in 2016 showed that in the health sector 56% of roles are held by women, while in teaching it is 68%.[49] However equality is less evident in other area; only 30% of M.P.'s are women and only 32% of finance and investment analysts. In the natural and social sciences 43% of employees are women, and in the environmental sector 42%.[50]

A 2010 study conducted by David R. Hekman and colleagues found that customers, who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer, were 19 percent more satisfied with the white male employee's performance.[51][52][53][54][55]

This discrepancy with race can be found as early as 1947, when Kenneth Clark conducted a study in which black children were asked to choose between white and black dolls. White male dolls were the ones children preferred to play with.[56][57]

Although the disparities between men and women are decreasing in the medical field,[58] gender inequalities still exist as social problems.[59] From 1999 to 2008, recently qualified female doctors in the US made almost $170,000,000 less than their male counterparts. The pay discrepancy could not be explained by specialty choice, practice setting, work hours, or other characteristics.[60] A case study carried out on Swedish medical doctors showed that the gender wage gap among physicians was greater in 2007 than in 1975.[61]

At home


Gender roles are heavily influenced by biology, with male-female play styles correlating with sex hormones,[62] sexual orientation, aggressive traits,[63] and pain.[64] Furthermore, females with congenital adrenal hyperplasia demonstrate increased masculinity[65] and it has been shown that rhesus macaque children exhibit preferences for stereotypically male and female toys.[66]

Gender equality in relationships has been growing over the years but for the majority of relationships, the power lies with the male.[67] Even now men and women present themselves as divided along gender lines. A study done by Szymanowicz and Furnham, looked at the cultural stereotypes of intelligence in men and women, showing the gender inequality in self-presentation.[68] This study showed that females thought if they revealed their intelligence to a potential partner, then it would diminish their chance with him. Men however would much more readily discuss their own intelligence with a potential partner. Also, women are aware of people’s negative reactions to IQ, so they limit its disclosure to only trusted friends. Females would disclose IQ more often than men with the expectation that a real true friend would respond in a positive way. Intelligence continues to be viewed as a more masculine trait, than feminine trait. The article suggested that men might think women with a high IQ would lack traits that were desirable in a mate such as warmth, nurturance, sensitivity, or kindness. Another discovery was that females thought that friends should be told about one’s IQ more so than males. However, males expressed doubts about the test’s reliability and the importance of IQ in real life more so than women. The inequality is highlighted when a couple starts to decide who is in charge of family issues and who is primarily responsible for earning income. For example, in Londa Schiebinger’s book, "Has Feminism Changed Science?", she claims that "Married men with families on average earn more money, live longer and happier, and progress faster in their careers," while "for a working woman, a family is a liability, extra baggage threatening to drag down her career."[69] Furthermore, statistics had shown that "only 17 percent of the women who are full professors of engineering have children, while 82 percent of the men do."[70]

Despite the increase in women in the labour force since the mid-1900s, traditional gender roles are still prevalent in American society. Women may be expected to put their educational and career goals on hold in order to raise children, while their husbands work. However, women who choose to work as well as fulfill a perceived gender role of cleaning the house and taking care of the children. Despite the fact that different households may divide chores more evenly, there is evidence that supports that women have retained the primary caregiver role within familial life despite contributions economically. This evidence suggest that women who work outside the home often put an extra 18 hours a week doing household or childcare related chores as opposed to men who average 12 minutes a day in childcare activities.[71] One study by van Hooff showed that modern couples, do not necessarily purposefully divide things like household chores along gender lines, but instead may rationalize it and make excuses.[67] One excuse used is that women are more competent at household chores and have more motivation to do them. Another is that some say the demands of the males’ jobs is higher.

There was a study conducted at an "urban comprehensive school". They were asked questions regarding their views in sexual inequality. Many parents were for the equal pay for men and women. They also were in favor for men to help with the housework. In this study, the majority of the people who were interviewed wanted gender equality and more people wants a change in gender roles. Where men stay home, cleans, and cooks while the women can work and help support the family.

Gender roles have changed drastically over the past few decades. In the article, it says that in 1920-1966, there was data recorded that women spent the most time care-tending with the home and family. There was a study made with the gender roles with the males and females, The results showed that as women spend less time in the house, men have taken over the role as the mother. The article also said that women who work spend less time within the house and with their children if they have any. Furthermore, men are taking the roles of women in the homes and its changing as time goes on. Robin A. Douthitt, the author of the article, "The Division of Labor Within the Home: Have Gender Roles Changed?" concluded by saying, "(1) men do not spend significnatly more time with chil- dren when their wives are employed and (2) employed women spend signifi- cantly less time in child care than their full-time homemaker counterparts, over a 10-year period both mothers and fathers are spending more total time with children." (703).

One survey showed that men rate their technological skills in activities such as basic computer functions and online participatory communication higher than women. However, this study was a self-reporting study, where men evaluate themselves on their own perceived capabilities. It thus is not data based on actual ability, but merely perceived ability, as participants' ability was not assessed. Additionally, this study is inevitably subject to the significant bias associated with self-reported data.[72]

In contrary to such findings, a carefully controlled study that analyzed data sets from 25 developing countries led to the consistent finding that the reason why fewer women access and use digital technology is a direct result of their unfavorable conditions and ongoing discrimination with respect to employment, education and income.[73] When controlling for these variables, women turn out to be more active users of digital tools than men. This turns the alleged digital gender divide into an opportunity: given women's affinity for ICT, and given that digital technologies are tools that can improve living conditions, ICT represents a concrete and tangible opportunity to tackle longstanding challenges of gender inequalities in developing countries, including access to employment, income, education and health services.

Many countries have laws that give less inheritance of the ancestral property for women compared to men.[74][75]

Gender inequalities often stem from social structures that have institutionalized conceptions of gender differences.

Marginalization occurs on an individual level when someone feels as if they are on the fringes or margins of their respective society. This is a social process and displays how current policies in place can affect people. For example, media advertisements display young girls with easy bake ovens (promoting being a housewife) as well as with dolls that they can feed and change the diaper of (promoting being a mother).

Cultural stereotypes, which can dictate specific roles, are engrained in both men and women and these stereotypes are a possible explanation for gender inequality and the resulting gendered wage disparity. Women have traditionally been viewed as being caring and nurturing and are designated to occupations which require such skills. While these skills are culturally valued, they were typically associated with domesticity, so occupations requiring these same skills are not economically valued. Men have traditionally been viewed as the main worker in the home, so jobs held by men have been historically economically valued and occupations predominated by men continue to be economically valued and earn higher wages.[30]

Gender Stereotypes influenced greatly by gender expectations, different expectations on gender influence how people determine their roles, appearance, behaviors, etc.[76] When expectations of gender roles deeply rooted in people's mind, people' values and ideas started to be influenced and leading to situation of stereotypes, which actualize their ideas into actions and perform different standards labelling the behaviors of people. Gender stereotypes limit opportunities of different gender when their performance or abilities were standardizing according to their gender-at-birth, that women and men may encounter limitations and difficulties when challenging the society through performing behaviors that their gender "not supposed" to perform. For example, men may receive judgments when they trying to stay at home and finish housework and allow their wives to go out and work instead, as men are expected to be work outside for earning money for the family. The traditional concepts of gender stereotypes are being challenged nowadays in different societies and improvement could be observed that men could also be responsible for housework, women could also be construction worker in some societies. It is still a long process when traditional concepts and values have deep-rooted in people's mind, that higher acceptance towards gender roles and characteristics is homely to be gradually developed.

Bonnie Spanier coined the term hereditary inequality.[77] Her opinion is that some scientific publications depict human fertilization such that sperms seem to actively compete for the "passive" egg, even though in reality it is complicated (e.g. the egg has specific active membrane proteins that select sperm etc.)

Gender inequality can further be understood through the mechanisms of sexism. Discrimination takes place in this manner as men and women are subject to prejudicial treatment on the basis of gender alone. Sexism occurs when men and women are framed within two dimensions of social cognition.

Discrimination also plays out with networking and in preferential treatment within the economic market. Men typically occupy positions of power within the job economy. Due to taste or preference for other men because they share similar characteristics, men in these positions of power are more likely to hire or promote other men, thus discriminating against women.[30]

In the criminal justice system


Sonja B. Starr conducted a study in the US that found that the prison sentences that men serve are on average 63% longer than those that women serve when controlling for arrest offense and criminal history. However, the study does not purport to explain why this is the case. Starr does not believe that men are disadvantaged generally.[78] Men's rights advocates have argued that men being over-represented in both those who commit murder and the victims of murder is evidence that men are being harmed by outmoded cultural attitudes.[79]

In television and film


The New York Film Academy took a closer look at the women in Hollywood and gathered statistics from the top 500 films from 2007 to 2012, for their history and achievements, or lack of.

There was a 5:1 ratio of men to women working in films. 30.8% of women having speaking characters, who may or may not have been a part of the 28.8% of women who were written to wear revealing clothing compared to the 7% of men who did, or the 26.2% of women who wore little to no clothing opposed to the 9.4% of men who did the same.[80] A study analyzing five years of text from over 2,000 news sources found a similar 5:1 ratio of male to female names overall, and 3:1 for names in entertainment.[81]

Hollywood actresses are paid less than actors. Topping Forbes' highest paid actors list of 2013 was Robert Downey Jr. with $75 million. Angelina Jolie topped the highest paid actresses list with $33 million,[82] which tied with Denzel Washington ($33 million) and Liam Neeson ($32 million), who were the last two on the top ten highest paid actors list.[83]

In the 2013 Academy Awards, 140 men were nominated for an award, but only 35 women were nominated. No woman was nominated for directing, cinematography, film editing, writing (original screenplay), or original score that year. Since the Academy Awards began in 1929, only seven women producers have won the Best Picture category (all of whom were co-producers with men), and only eight women have been nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Lina Wertmuller (1976), Jane Campion (1994), Sofia Coppola (2004), and Kathryn Bigelow (2012) were the only four women to be nominated for Best Director, with Bigelow being the first woman to win for her film The Hurt Locker. 77% of the Academy Awards' voters are male.[80]

A group of Hollywood actors have launched their own social movement titled #AskMoreOfHim. This movement is built on the basis of men speaking out against sexual misconduct against females.[84] A number of male activists, specifically in the film industry, have signed an open letter explaining their responsibility in the ownership of their actions, as well as calling out the actions of others. The letter has been signed and supported by Friends actor David Schwimmer, shown above, among many others. The Hollywood Reporter published their support saying, “We applaud the courage and pledge our support to the courageous women — and men, and gender non-conforming individuals — who have come forward to recount their experiences of harassment, abuse and violence at the hands of men in our country. As men, we have a special responsibility to prevent abuse from happening in the first place... After all, the vast majority of sexual harassment, abuse and violence is perpetrated by men, whether in Hollywood or not.”[85] This accountability is set to change the way women are seen and treated in the film and television industry, hopefully ending in the closing of the gap women are experiencing in pay, promotion, and overall respect. This initiative was created in response to the #MeToo movement. [86] The #MeToo movement, started by a single tweet, asked women to share their stories of sexual assault against men in a professional setting. [87] Within one day, 30,000 women had used the hashtag sharing their stories. Many women feel as if they have more power in their voices than they ever had and are choosing to make personal claims that may have been brushed under the rug prior to the internet culture we’re now living in. According to Time Magazine, 95% of women in the film and entertainment industry admit to being sexually harassed by men in their industry. [88] In addition to the #MeToo movement, women in industry are using #TimesUp, with the goal of aiming to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace for victims who cannot afford their own resources.[89]

Impact and counteractions


Gender inequality and discrimination are argued to cause and perpetuate poverty and vulnerability in society as a whole.[90] Household and intra-household knowledge and resources are key influences in individuals' abilities to take advantage of external livelihood opportunities or respond appropriately to threats.[90] High education levels and social integration significantly improve the productivity of all members of the household and improve equity throughout society. Gender Equity Indices seek to provide the tools to demonstrate this feature of poverty.[90]

Poverty has many different factors, one of which is the gender wage gap. Women are more likely to be living in poverty and the wage gap is one of the causes.[91]

There are many difficulties in creating a comprehensive response.[92] It is argued that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fail to acknowledge gender inequality as a cross-cutting issue. Gender is mentioned in MDG3 and MDG5: MDG3 measures gender parity in education, the share of women in wage employment and the proportion women in national legislatures.[90] MDG5 focuses on maternal mortality and on universal access to reproductive health.[90] These targets are significantly off-track.[92]

Addressing gender inequality through social protection programmes designed to increase equity would be an effective way of reducing gender inequality, according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).[92] Researchers at the ODI argue for the need to develop the following in social protection in order to reduce gender inequality and increase growth:[90]

  • Community childcare to give women greater opportunities to seek employment
  • Support parents with the care costs (e.g. South African child/disability grants)
  • Education stipends for girls (e.g. Bangladesh’s Girls Education Stipend scheme)
  • Awareness-raising regarding gender-based violence, and other preventive measures, such as financial support for women and children escaping abusive environments (e.g. NGO pilot initiatives in Ghana)
  • Inclusion of programme participants (women and men) in designing and evaluating social protection programmes
  • Gender-awareness and analysis training for programme staff
  • Collect and distribute information on coordinated care and service facilities (e.g. access to micro-credit and micro-entrepreneurial training for women)
  • Developing monitoring and evaluation systems that include sex-disaggregated data

The ODI maintains that society limits governments' ability to act on economic incentives.[92]

NGOs tend to protect women against gender inequality and structural violence.

During war, combatants primarily target men. Both sexes die however, due to disease, malnutrition and incidental crime and violence, as well as the battlefield injuries which predominately affect men.[93] A 2009 review of papers and data covering war related deaths disaggregated by gender concluded "It appears to be difficult to say whether more men or women die from conflict conditions overall."[94] The ratio also depends on the type of war, for example in the Falklands War 904 of the 907 dead were men. Conversely figures for war deaths in 1990, almost all relating to civil war, gave ratios in the order of 1.3 males per female.

Another opportunity to tackle gender inequality is presented by modern information and communication technologies. In a carefully controlled study,[73] it has been shown that women embrace digital technology more than men. Given that digital information and communication technologies have the potential to provide access to employment, education, income, health services, participation, protection, and safety, among others (ICT4D), the natural affinity of women with these new communication tools provide women with a tangible bootstrapping opportunity to tackle social discrimination.

Variations by country or culture


Gender inequality is a result of the persistent discrimination of one group of people based upon gender and it manifests itself differently according to race, culture, politics, country, and economic situation. It is furthermore considered a causal factor of violence against women. While gender discrimination happens to both men and women in individual situations, discrimination against women is an entrenched, global pandemic. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape and violence against women and girls is used as a tool of war.[96] In Afghanistan, girls have had acid thrown in their faces for attending school.[97] Considerable focus has been given to the issue of gender inequality at the international level by organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank, particularly in developing countries. The causes and effects of gender inequality vary geographically, as do methods for combating it.

One example of the continued existence of gender inequality in Asia is the "missing girls" phenomenon.[98] "Many families desire male children in order to ensure an extra source of income. In China, females are perceived as less valuable for labor and unable to provide sustenance." [99] Moreover, gender inequality is also reflected in the educational aspect of rural China. Gender inequality exists because of gender stereotypes in rural China. For example, families may consider that it is useless for girls to acquire knowledge at school because they will marry someone eventually, and their major responsibility is to take care of housework.[100]

Furthermore, the current formal education in Asia might be also a result of the historical tendencies. For instance, insufficient supply and demand for education of women reflect the development of numeracy levels throughout Asia between 1900-1960. Regions like South and West Asia had low numeracy levels during the early and mid-20th century. As a consequence, there were no significant gender equality trends. East Asia in its turn was characterized by a high numeracy level and gender equality. The success of this region is related to the higher education and hence higher participation rate of females in the economic life of the region[101].

A Cambodian said, "Men are gold, women are white cloth", emphasizing that women had a lower value and importance compared to men.[40] In Cambodia, approximately 15% (485,000 hectares) of land was owned by women.[102] In Asian culture, there is a stereotype that women usually have lower status than men because males carry on the family name and hold the responsibilities to take care of the family. Females have a less important role, mainly to carry out domestic chores, and taking care of husbands and children.[103] Women are also the main victims of poverty as they have little or no access to education, low pay and low chances owning assets such as lands, homes or even basic items.[40]

In Cambodia, the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) was formed in 1998 with the role of improving women's overall power and status in the country.[104]

The Global Gender Gap Report put out by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2013 ranks nations on a scale of 0 to 1, with a score of 1.0 indicating full gender equality. A nation with 35 women and 65 men in political office would get a score of 0.538 as the WEF is measuring the gap between the two figures and not the actual percentage of women in a given category. While Europe holds the top four spots for gender equality, with Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden ranking 1st through 4th respectively, it also contains two nations ranked in the bottom 30 countries, Albania at 108 and Turkey at 120. The Nordic Countries, for several years, have been at the forefront of bridging the gap in gender inequality. Every Nordic country, aside from Denmark who is at 0.778, has reached above a 0.800 score. In contrast to the Nordic nations, the countries of Albania and Turkey continue to struggle with gender inequality. Albania and Turkey failed to break the top 100 nations in 2 of 4 and 3 of 4 factors, respectively. However, despite the disparity, European nations continue to make advances in the many factors that are used to determine a nation's gender gap score.[95]

Western Europe, a region most often described as comprising the non-communist members of post-WWII Europe,[105] has, for the most part been doing well in eliminating the gender gap. Western Europe holds 12 of the top 20 spots on the Global Gender Gap Report for overall score. While remaining mostly in the top 50 nations, four Western European nations fall below that benchmark. Portugal is just outside of the top 50 at number 51 with score of 0.706 while Italy (71), Greece (81) and Malta (84) received scores of 0.689, 0.678 and 0.676, respectively.[95]

A large portion of Eastern Europe, a region most often described as the former communist members of post-WWII Europe,[105] resides between 40th and 100th place in the Global Gender Gap Report. A few outlier countries include Lithuania, which jumped nine places (37th to 28th) from 2011 to 2013, Latvia, which has held the 12th spot for two consecutive years, Albania and Turkey.[95]

India ranking remains low in gender equality measures by the World Economic Forum, although the rank has been improving in recent years.[95][106] When broken down into components that contribute the rank, India performs well on political empowerment, but is scored near the bottom with China on sex selective abortion. India also scores poorly on overall female to male literacy and health rankings. India with a 2013 ranking of 101 out of 136 countries had an overall score of 0.6551, while Iceland, the nation that topped the list, had an overall score of 0.8731 (no gender gap would yield a score of 1.0).[107] Gender inequalities impact India's sex ratio, women's health over their lifetimes, their educational attainment, and economic conditions. It is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women alike.

The labor force participation rate of women was 80.7% in 2013.[108] Nancy Lockwood of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world's largest human resources association with members in 140 countries, in a 2009 report wrote that female labor participation is lower than men, but has been rapidly increasing since the 1990s. Out of India's 397 million workers in 2001, 124 million were women, states Lockwood.[109]

India is on target to meet its Millennium Development Goal of gender parity in education before 2016.[110] UNICEF's measures of attendance rate and Gender Equality in Education Index (GEEI) attempt to capture the quality of education.[111] Despite some gains, India needs to triple its rate of improvement to reach GEEI score of 95% by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals. A 1998 report stated that rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.[112]

The World Economic Forum measures gender equity through a series of economic, educational, and political benchmarks. It has ranked the United States as 19th (up from 31st in 2009) in terms of achieving gender equity.[113] The US Department of Labor has indicated that in 2009, "the median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was... 80 percent of men's".[114] The Department of Justice found that in 2009, "the percentage of female victims (26%) of intimate partner violence was about 5 times that of male victims (5%)".[115] "The United States ranks 41st in a ranking of 184 countries on maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, below all other industrialized nations and a number of developing countries"[116] and women only represent 20% of members of Congress.[113]

Existing research on the topic of gender/sex and politics has found differences in political affiliation, beliefs, and voting behavior between men and women, although these differences vary across cultures. Gender is omnipresent in every culture, and while there are many factors to consider when labeling people "Democrat" or "Republican"—such as race and religion—gender is especially prominent in politics.[117][118] Studying gender and political behavior poses challenges, as it can be difficult to determine if men and women actually differ in substantial ways in their political views and voting behavior, or if biases and stereotypes about gender cause people to make assumptions.[119] However, trends in voting behavior among men and women have been proven through research.

Research shows that women in postindustrial countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany primarily identified as conservative before the 1960s; however, as time has progressed and new waves of feminism have occurred, women have become more left-wing due to shared beliefs and values between women and parties more on the left.[120] Women in these countries typically oppose war and the death penalty, favor gun control, support environment protection, and are more supportive of programs that help people of lower socioeconomic statuses.[117] Voting behaviors of men have not experienced as drastic of a shift over the last fifty years as women in their voting behavior and political affiliations. These behaviors tend to consistently be more conservative than women overall.[120] These trends change with every generation, and factors such as culture, race, and religion also must be considered when discussing political affiliation. These factors make the connection between gender and political affiliation complex due to intersectionality.[121]

Candidate gender also plays a role in voting behavior. Women candidates are far more likely than male candidates to be scrutinized and have their competence questioned by both men and women when they are seeking information on candidates in the beginning stages of election campaigns.[119] Democrat male voters tend to seek more information about female Democrat candidates over male Democrat candidates. Female Republican voters tend to seek more information about female Republican candidates.[119] For this reason, female candidates in either party typically need to work harder to prove themselves competent more than their male counterparts.[119]

Overall, politics in the United States are dominated by men, which can pose many challenges to women who decide to enter the political sphere. As the number of women participants in politics continue to increase around the world, the gender of female candidates serves as both a benefit and a hindrance within their campaign themes and advertising practices.[122] The overarching challenge seems to be that—no matter their actions—women are unable to win in the political sphere as different standards are used to judge them when compared to their male counterparts.[123]

One area in particular that exemplifies varying perceptions between male and female candidates is the way female candidates decide to dress and how their choice is evaluated. When women decide to dress more masculine, they are perceived as being "conspicuous." When they decide to dress more feminine, they are perceived as "deficient."[124] At the same time, however, women in politics are generally expected to adhere to the masculine standard, thereby validating the idea that gender is binary and that power is associated with masculinity.[125] As illustrated by the points above, these simultaneous, mixed messages create a "double-bind" for women. Some scholars go on to claim that this masculine standard represents symbolic violence against women in politics.[124]

Political knowledge is a second area where male and female candidates are evaluated differently and where political science research has consistently shown women with a lower level of knowledge than their male counterparts.[126] One reason for this finding is the argument that there are different areas of political knowledge that different groups consider.[127] Due to this line of thought, scholars are advocating the replacement of traditional political knowledge with gender-relevant political knowledge because women are not as politically disadvantaged as it may appear.[126]

A third area that affects women's engagement in politics is their low level of political interest and perception of politics as a "men's game."[128] Despite female candidates' political contributions being equal to that of male candidates, research has shown that women perceive more barriers to office in the form of rigorous campaigns, less overall recruitment, inability to balance office and family commitments, hesitancy to enter competitive environments, and a general lack of belief in their own merit and competence.[129] Male candidates are evaluated most heavily on their achievements, while female candidates are evaluated on their appearance, voice, verbal dexterity, and facial features in addition to their achievements.[124]

Several forms of action have been taken to combat institutionalized sexism. People are beginning to speak up or "talk back" in a constructive way to expose gender inequality in politics, as well as gender inequality and under-representation in other institutions.[130] Researchers who have delved into the topic of institutionalized sexism in politics have introduced the term "undoing gender." This term focuses on education and an overarching understanding of gender by encouraging "social interactions that reduce gender difference."[125] Some feminists argue that "undoing gender" is problematic because it is context-dependent and may actually reinforce gender. For this reason, researchers suggest "doing gender differently" by dismantling gender norms and expectations in politics, but this can also depend on culture and level of government (e.g. local versus federal).[125]

Another key to combating institutionalized sexism in politics is to diffuse gender norms through "gender-balanced decision-making," particularly at the international level, which "establishes expectations about appropriate levels of women in decision-making positions."[131] In conjunction with this solution, scholars have started placing emphasis on "the value of the individual and the importance of capturing individual experience." This is done throughout a candidate's political career—whether that candidate is male or female—instead of the collective male or female candidate experience.[132] Five recommended areas of further study for examining the role of gender in U.S. political participation are (1) realizing the "intersection between gender and perceptions"; (2) investigating the influence of "local electoral politics"; (3) examining "gender socialization"; (4) discerning the connection "between gender and political conservatism"; and (5) recognizing the influence of female political role models in recent years.[133] Due to the fact that gender is intricately entwined in every societal institution, gender in politics can only change once gender norms in other institutions change, as well.

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