The debate about sex, gender, and associated issues is integral to contemporary society. Inequalities, bias, and different expectations are the consequences of socially constructed concepts of human sex and gender. According to Kurzman et al. (2019), “universalist approaches define gender equality through indicators that apply to all societies, such as gender differences in health, education, political representation, and paid labor” (p. 1). This paper aims to revisit the questions about gender and sex and discuss the impact of the new information from the assigned readings on my personal worldview.
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What is sex? What is gender?
Differentiating between the concepts of gender and sex is essential since the two terms cannot be used interchangeably. Sex can be defined as biological characteristics that categorize individuals into men, women, and intersex people. In turn, gender is an umbrella term that is more multifaceted and diverse. Generally, the assigned readings confirmed my view of gender as a social construct largely based on the characteristics of masculinity and femininity, as well as traditional roles and norms. As a result, various issues arise due to gender inequality. For instance, as a study by Cannon et al. (2019) revealed, “gendered expectations are imported from the larger culture to permeate small-group discussions, creating conversational inequalities” (p. 1). According to Carlson et al. (2018), the gender revolution has disproportionally affected different social classes. In other words, cultural and social factors shape people’s behavior and roles based on their gender.
What social and institutional mechanisms work against those who are classified as women?
As mentioned above, there are certain social and institutional mechanisms discriminating against different groups of people. In particular, gender norms and expectations, unequal access to education and the labor market, pay gap, workplace discrimination, as well as forced and child marriage disadvantage women all over the globe. However, women’s attitudes towards their gender roles and assessments of discrimination can differ. A study by Kurzman et al. (2019) challenged my worldview, stating that “gender-equality looks quite different from the perspective of women’s survey responses than it looks from the perspective of global gender-equality indices” (p. 1). In other words, the universal view of discriminative mechanisms does not always correspond with females’ personal opinions on this issue. As Kurzman et al. (2019) report, “even on a high-profile issue such as violence against women, women in index-unequal societies may not express support for women’s rights, as defined by global institutions” (p. 1). Such research findings have challenged my worldview by emphasizing that an individual’s perception of gender equality might differ from the universal definition.
What social and institutional mechanisms work against those who are classified as transgender?
Social and institutional mechanisms that discriminate against transgender people include social stigma, gender roles, dress code expectations, and unequal protection of the fundamental rights in the workplace based on the individual’s gender identity. The assigned readings did not explore the problem of transgender discrimination. However, relevant issues were discussed, illustrating that gender-based social stigma can contribute to inequalities in the workplace and household, which confirmed my worldview. As Cannon et al. (2019) report, gender can shape conversational inequality. Therefore, transgender people might not get enough representation in the workplace due to discriminative environments.
To conclude, the conversation about sex and gender involves various aspects and implications for different groups of people. There is a difference between these two terms, which emphasizes the socially constructed nature of the concept of gender. As a result, social and institutional mechanisms often discriminate against certain groups of people. One’s beliefs about such mechanisms and the issues of gender and sex constitute an essential part of one’s personal worldview.
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Cannon, B. C., Robinson, D. T., & Smith-Lovin, L. (2019). How do we “do gender”? Permeation as over-talking and talking over. Socius, 5, 1-20. Web.
Carlson, D. L., Miller, A. J., & Sassler, S. (2018). Stalled for whom? Change in the division of particular housework tasks and their consequences for middle-to low-income couples. Socius, 4, 1-17. Web.
Kurzman, C., Dong, W., Gorman, B., Hwang, K., Ryberg, R., & Zaidi, B. (2019). Women’s assessments of gender equality. Socius, 5, 1-13. Web.