Maharashtra State BoardHSC Science (General) 11th
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Concept of Gender

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Concept of Gender:

Stratification has always existed in our society but earlier the economic (class) and caste barriers were considered as major reasons, but later on, women sociologists showed how gender equally plays an important role in stratifying our society. Thus gender is one more important and universal base of social stratification across the globe and so in India. Gender stratification refers to social ranking, where men typically inhabit higher statuses than women. A common general definition of gender stratification refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege between the two sexes. Gender inequality can be analysed on the bases of prestige, style of life, privileges, and opportunities, association with social groups, income, education, occupation, and power. One must understand that gender and sex are not interchangeable terms. Sex refers to the biological distinction between females and males. In contrast, the term gender refers to the social aspects of differences and hierarchies between males and females. Sex may be male or female whereas gender refers to the social meaning of masculinity and femininity. It determines how one should behave in society. 

Gender stereotyping: The assignment of roles, tasks, and responsibilities to a particular gender on the basis of preconceived prejudices. For instance, the assumption that masons can only be men or that nurses are necessarily women.

Gender Role Perception: Gender is a dynamic concept. Gender roles for women and men vary greatly from one culture to another; and from one social group to another within the same culture. Race, class, economic circumstances, age — all of these influence what is considered appropriate for women and men. Furthermore, as culture is dynamic and socio-economic conditions change over time, so gender patterns change with them. Different roles and characteristics are assigned to people not only on the basis of their gender but of their race, caste, class, ethnic background, and age. Our social analysis becomes finer, our social interventions more finely tuned, when we are aware of all the complex ways in which society slots people into different categories and roles, and of the ways, these roles can be the basis of both cooperation and conflict. For neither women nor men form a homogeneous group in any society. Women may come into conflict with each other because of racial differences, or women of different nationalities or class groups may find solidarity in their gender identity.

Gender gap: Differences between men and women in levels of achievement or access. This could for example be access to education or health care and treatment services or differentials in wages paid to women and men. These differentials may result from customary practices, religious biases, social assumptions, myths, or taboos, among others.

Gender discrimination: Where one gender is favoured and the other becomes disadvantaged e.g. sex selective abortion. Gender oppression: Where one gender dominates the other unjustly or even cruelly. For instance, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment.

As the worst fall out of disparity and mind blocks in the area of role perception, comes the vice of gender discrimination. The three most prominent facets of sexual discrimination are

  • Societal Perpetration;
  • Domestic Violence and
  • Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

There are socially accepted expressions like “boys are boys” and norms supporting dowry, still prevalent in society. They highlight the unfortunate social approval towards sexual discrimination. So far as domestic violence is concerned, even after a decade since the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2005, there is no significant change in the crime rate against women. As per data published by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), dowry death was 0.3% of the total number of crimes, as defined under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), in 2013. The figure remains the same in 2014. In fact, a crime against women as a percentage of the total number of crimes committed in India has increased from 11.7% in 2013 to 11.9% in 2014. However, perhaps the most unreported amongst these crimes are the ones amounting to "sexual harassment at workplace". For one, there was no clear law on the subject before 2013 and for the other, many women used to desist reporting. Even now, it is believed that a good number of them don‘t report incidents of sexual harassment for reasons ranging from love to terror.

Gender-neutral: An approach to planning and policymaking that assumes that the impact on women, men, girls, and boys as if they were part of one homogeneous group. For instance, although men are usually taller than women, fixing the height of the podium in conference halls on the basis of the height of men.

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