Gender inequality has its origin in the dim corridors of prehistory. Much has changed since the Seneca Falls convention; on 1848, social standing of all women was far below that of men. Back then, women did vote, own a property, and keep their wages if they were married. In addition, women were not allowed to attend college, and husbands were widely viewed as having unquestioned authority over their wives and children. During that period, men and women were thought to have completely different natures. People saw those differences as separate and different functions in the society; women were thought to have natures suited for taking care of the home while men’s nature were suited for public life. Although much has changed since the 19th century, women and men still lead different lives in the United States and elsewhere in the world; in most respects, men are still in charge. Gender and social inequality affects the opportunities and constraints we face throughout our lives. It also affects the way people live and sometimes whether they live at all. An example, looking back on the tragic event of Titanic, we could see how the fates of the passengers were determined because of the era’s traditional ideas about gender. When Titanic collided with a huge iceberg, women and children boarded the lifeboats first and as a result, 80 percent of those who died were men.
Today, traditional gender roles have changed, allowing women to engage in life outside the home. People’s culture, peers, media, and religion, are some of the many influences that shape our understanding of this core aspect of identity. Our culture shapes how we interact with others and even how we think about ourselves. In our society today, women are still bounded to social restrictions. “Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid is an example of how gender is a major dimension of social stratification. This article illustrates important issues about gender and culture. The story highlights what was expected for girls in a particular culture. In the article, a mother attempts to instruct her daughter on how to live in their social setting. The mother focused only on teaching her daughter social manners and domesticity. Such attitudes and beliefs illustrate the thinking pattern of that era and culture. The "Girl,” Kincaid shows the general myth about women and their gender role. This article reinforces the idea that home-centered tasks such as cooking and childcare tend to be women’s work. An instance in the article a mother tells her daughter this is how you sweep a yard, smile to someone you don't like too much, smile to someone you don't like at all, and smile to someone you like completely. Additionally, how you set a table for tea, set a table for dinner, set a table for dinner with an important guest, set a table for lunch, and set a table for breakfast.
Every culture has specific ways in which people of a specific gender should act. Gender is rooted and reproduced in our society. it is a process that begins in childhood and continues throughout our lives. From birth until death, gender shapes human feelings, thoughts, and actions. Role learning starts with socialization at birth; soon after birth, family members welcome infants into the “pink world” of girls or the “blue world” of boys. Nowadays, parents use toys to socialize their children into the appropriate gender roles. Indeed, girls receive dolls in an attempt to socialize them into future roles as mothers. As Children grow, they quickly learn that their society defines females and males as different kinds of people. The attitudes and expectations surrounding gender roles are not based on any inherent or natural gender differences, but are socially constructed. Although many of the traditional gender gaps between men and women are closing, women in poor societies still face greater disadvantages. In some counties, tradition keeps women out of many jobs, in Bangladesh for example, women work only in garment factories because of the nations conservative religious norms, which bar them from most other paid work and also limit their opportunities to higher educations. In addition, traditional norms give women primarily responsibility for child rearing and maintaining the household thereby restricting them to having a career.
Another great article that conveyed the inequality that exists among men and women is “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This article presents the social relationship between male dominance through accepted “norms”. In this article the author illustrated how domestic environment oppressed women through the patriarchal beliefs upheld by the society. In addition, this article shows male dominance in relationships could cause women to feel repressed and lead to development of mental disorders. “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I am sure I never used to be so sensitive. However, John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself—before him, at least and that makes me very tired.” Here the narrator expresses that her husband restrictions were causing her mental state to worsen. Today our society still places men in a position of dominance over women. Women in poor income nations are at greater risks for abuse because violence against women is built into the cultures in different ways. For example, the practice of female genital mutilation, this dangerous procedure is performed in more than forty countries. Furthermore, in some culture male dominance is in law and organized religion, over marriage, adultery, and abortion. Gender involves more than how people think and act. It is about how society is organized, how social hierarchy affects our lives. Our society encourages gender conformity by instilling in men and women fear that straying too far from accepted standards of masculinity or femininity will cause rejection by opposite sex.
The reality of gender stratification is in just about every aspect of our everyday lives. Patriarchy is the pattern found almost everywhere in the world. Institutional sexism is found throughout our economy, with women highly concentrated in low-paying jobs. Female nurses assist male physicians, female secretaries serve male executives, and flight attendants are under the command of male pilots. In any field, the greater a job’s income and prestige, the more likely it is to be held by a man. In the corporate world, too, the higher in the company we look, the fewer women we find. Although women have made great strides in professions such as law, medicine, and academe, there is still much stereotyping and discrimination. Gender stereotypes are hard to break; gender stratification consists of social, economic and political dimensions, it is embedded in culture, and it affects both men and women and the relationship between them.