Social Inequality

Gender Bias

By Katherine Jones

Gender Bias is defined thus: “a behavior or behaviors that shows favoritism toward one gender over another.” (Kendall, 2007) and “an unfair difference in the treatment of men or women because of their sex.” (Encarta® World English Dictionary, 2009)

In American society today, gender bias is more easily found than you might believe. Usually this bias favors the male over the female in social groups including home, work, and even school. The easiest way to measure gender inequality in the United States is to compare it with other nations:

Perhaps one of the most telling statistics used to gauge (sic) the status of women in any society is the percent of representation they have in the government. There are some surprising facts revealed from this category. For instance, in 2004 the United States had only 14 percent of its elected legislative positions held by women. The United Kingdom had a slightly higher percentage of women in office with 18 percent. Mexico, however, had 23 percent, while Sweden boasts the highest of the group, with 45 percent of its elected legislative offices held by women. When considering that women make up over 50 percent of the population in all of these nations, the lack of political representation is somewhat shocking. (Gaddis)

According to Roger Gaddis, gender inequality and and bias is a combination of economical, sociological, and historical factors, not only in the United States, but worldwide. He believes that the progress made throughout the 20th century has been impressive, but that we as a society have a long way to go to achieve actual equality.

Gender bias is not present in just in the political office, nor is it limited to adults. Researchers found that teachers spend more time and expend more effort and attention on their male students than their female ones. Male students are also called on more often. (Sadker and Sadker 1994, qtd. Kendall, 2007) Compiled studies suggest that the self-esteem of female students is often lowered by experiences such as lack of attention from teachers, harassment (sexual) from male peers, etc.

Some teachers even use sex segregation (dividing girls from boys on either side of the room) in order to better control the class. This, however, can result in the unnecessary competition between males and females. (Basow 1992, qtd. Kendall, 2007)

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As well as politically and in world of education, gender bias can be seen clearly in the modern workplace. Much of the discrepancy is due to an imbalance in the wages of male and female employees that do the same job. This is often called a “pay gap.” This is, simply, a disparity between women's and men's earnings. (Kendall, 2007)

To be fair, the hardship is not always placed upon women. Jobs that are “gender segregated” often keep men from taking positions in female-dominated careers. Men that take on these roles (stay-at-home dad, chef, clothes designer, dancer, etc.) have to prove themselves as manly men. If these assumptions do not totally push men out of these roles, they still effect the male gender identity in the workplace. (Williams 2004, qtd. Kendall, 2007) Never the less, gender bias is much more often a problem for females than males.

Probably the most interesting facts about gender bias for ourselves, as college-age students, comes from collected scores from such recognizable standardized tests as the SAT and ACT, as well as tests more commonly taken by older students. Most of us in this area (the Midwest) took the ACT over the SAT. The ACT is taken by approx. one million students every year. It covers courses in Math, English, Science Reasoning, and Reading. It's scores range from 1 to 36. Consistently, females score lower on the ACT than males. In 2001, women's ACT composite scores averaged .2 points lower than men's, and only then due to a significant narrowing in the gap in recent years. This test seems to underestimate the abilities of female students. For example, despite the fact that male and female students are BOTH required to take courses like Chemistry and Algebra in high school, females' scores on the Mathematics and Science Reasoning sections of the test are significantly lower than males'. (FairTest)

The question is…why do females struggle more with these sorts of tests than males? One answer is quite surprising:

A joint study by the Educational Testing Service and the College Board concluded that the multiple-choice format itself is biased against women. The study examined a variety of question types on Advanced Placement tests (like the SAT, made by ETS for the College Board and administered to college bound seniors) and found that the gender gap narrowed or disappeared on all types of questions (e.g. short answer, essay, constructed response) except multiple choice…The researchers conclude, "The better relative performance of females on constructed-response tests has important implications for high-stakes standardized testing… If both types of tests measure important education outcomes, equity concerns would dictate a mix of the two types of assessment instruments." (FairTest)

While it is somewhat doubtful that the trickiness of multiple choice questions is at the root of all problems concerning gender biasing against the female members of society, it is interesting how many different reasons have been pointed out by researchers in recent years. It is almost as if we are looking for something to blame, rather than someone. It has hard to point the finger at our own culture's standards. After all, our gender bias against the female sex is pretty deeply ingrained, going all the way back to days of prehistory, when males were the usually the unquestioned providers and able to exercise boundless domination over the females of the clan.

Will we overcome our differences and finally become equal partners, despite differing anatomy and social roles? Perhaps it is best to take the word of American activist, author and organizer in women's and human rights movements, Professor Charlotte Bunch who says that “sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing culture.”

Sources:

Encarta Dictionary. 7 Dec. 2009. 7 Dec. 2009 <http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_701706243/ gender_bias.html>.

FirstTest. 7 Dec. 2007. 7 Dec. 2009 <http://www.fairtest.org/facts/genderbias.htm>.

Gaddis, Roger. Associated Content. 14 Aug. 2007. 7 Dec. 2009 <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/344937/gender_equality_in_the_united_states.html?cat=47>.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. 7 vols. USA: Cenage Learning, 2007.

X., Marina. Objectify This. 1990 7 Dec. 2009 <http://objectifythis.com/>.


Social Inequality
By Jessica Carroll

"Social inequality refers to a situation in which certain groups in a society do not have equal social status" (1)

Instances of social inequality often involve property rights, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, access to health care, and education as well as many other social commodities(1). Social Inequality is the treatment or mistreatment of a social group by another social group or society as a whole. It affects every area of the world in some way, shape, or form either in the present or the past. It is seen in a variety of forms but always seems to root in social status or social systems. It is a driving force for certain countries. Some cultures are founded in it and social inequality is the building blocks for their whole social structure. It can be seen as good or bad, right or wrong, and for any matter who is to say. This is an over-view of social inequality throughout the years.

"From 1654 until 1865, slavery for life was legal within the boundaries of much of the present United States."(2)

Social Inequality can be seen in America the most during the days of slavery. Slavery is Social Inequality but the fight of the African Americans to gain civil rights in America after slavery was abolished by Abraham Lincoln is a prime example of a cultural group being treated Unequal. During the 1950's and early 60's, African Americans were not allowed to partake in many daily activities in the same areas as white people. They were not allowed to eat at white restaurants, go to white schools, and even drink out of the same water fountains that white people drank out of. Many people fought for the rights of African Americans and many advocates of civil rights such as Martin Luther King, died trying to free black people so to speak. The reasoning behind white people treating African Americans so unequal is still confusing to this day. Throughout the 60's and 70's many barriers of inequality towards the African American people were broken. African American people share the same rights and advantages as the white people, they are no longer oppressed by society as a whole. This situation is a good example of social inequality.

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In the above picture is a widowed women from India. Another good example of social inequality that is still going on to this day is the mistreatment of widowed women in India. If you are a widowed women in India you must live in an ashram with other widowed women and you are treated outcasts, diseased, and are ostracized for being widowed. They hold none of the rights of other people in India are not allowed to have or share any of the same worldly desires. They are seen as damned and must repent every day for the sins they have supposedly had too upon in the death of their husbands. In the ashram they have to shave their heads and are allowed to work for people but for no pay, they often turn to begging in the streets, all for being widowed. All for something they could not control. Society says in India that a widow should not ever marry again but a widower is still treated the same rights as before and is allowed to marry again. India is a country that is founded by the social caste system. It is so ingrained that is more a religion than a governmental ideal. There is no law to this day that says widowed women of India must live in Ashram and be ostracized but people of India are seen still practicing these ideals to this day. Gandhi advocated for a new India and was able to free many people from the in slavery of India's social caste system but was not able to abolish these unspoken laws completely.

Who is to decide that one individual or group of individuals is better than another? Social Inequality has been around since the beginning of time and as long as there is social caste systems it will continue to be around. The main theme haunting social inequality is the mistreatment of individuals, usually for something they could not help. This mistreatment is sometimes disturbing and detrimental to human life itself. comes.

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_inequality
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States
3. Pictured referenced from: http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/women/widows/


HOMOSEXUALITY

Chelsie Gausman

Homosexuality refers to individuals who prefer same-sex relationships. The terms homosexual and gay are most often used in association with males, the term lesbian is used while in reference to females who prefer same-sex relations. Homosexuality can also be defined in terms of attraction, preference, orientation, or identity.

History

A German psychologist by the name of Karoly Maria Benkert coined the term homosexuality late in the 19th century. Homosexuality dates clear back into the biblical times and even before. Ancient Greeks and Romans have records showing of same-sex relationships. Although it hard to tell exactly when homosexuality is stated in the bible, it is mostly referred to prostitution or same-sex acts, but these were often called unnatural.

Many years later in the European countries homosexuality was severely prohibited. Penalties often ranged from torturing to the death penalty. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, homosexuality was removed from the list of capital crimes, but was more considered as sodomy.

The 20th century rolled around and homosexuals were now becoming a more popular norm. Sexual roles were redefined once again as premarital sex became ok, as well as having sex outside the terms of pleasure. Thus, it became more difficult to argue against gay sex. During the 1960s, the homosexual liberation movement took off. Late in the 1960s, a gay bar rioted after a police raid, which led to gay and lesbian groups forming all over the country. Homosexual Democratic clubs were formed in nearly every major city, and almost one-fourth of all college campuses had a homosexual group. The American Psychiatric Association was forced to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

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The American Gay Rights Movement Timeline

1924 The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.

1948 Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.

1951 The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.

1956 The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.

1962 Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.

1969 The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small
number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.

1973 The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.

1982 Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

1993 The “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy is instituted for the U.S. military, permitting gays to serve
in the military but banning homosexual activity. President Clinton's original intention to revoke the prohibition against gays in the military was met with stiff opposition; this compromise, which has led to the discharge of thousands of men and women in the armed forces, was the result.

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1996 In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court strikes down Colorado's Amendment 2, which
denied gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, calling them “special rights.” According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These protections … constitute ordinary civil life in a free society.”

2000 Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unions between
gay or lesbian couples. The law states that these “couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses.” It stops short of referring to same-sex unions as marriage, which the state defines as heterosexual.

2003 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws in the U.S. are
unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “Liberty presumes an autonomy of self
that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.”

In November, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to “deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage” to gay couples was unconstitutional because it denied “the dignity and equality of all individuals” and made them “second-class citizens.” Strong opposition followed the ruling.

2004 On May 17, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts.

2005 Civil unions become legal in Connecticut in October.

2006 Civil unions become legal in New Jersey in December.

2007 In November, the House of Representatives approves a bill ensuring equal rights in the
workplace for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.

2008 In February, a New York State appeals court unanimously votes that valid same-sex
marriages performed in other states must be recognized by employers in New York,
granting same-sex couples the same rights as other couples.

In February, the state of Oregon passes a law that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners allowing them some spousal rights of married couples. On May 15, the California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4, California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state's Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban throws into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid, and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way.

November 4 voters in California, Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children.
On October 10 the Supreme Court of Connecticut rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry. This makes Connecticut the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples. The court rules that the state cannot deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry under Connecticut's constitution, and that the state's civil union law does not provide same-sex couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

On November 12 same-sex marriages begin to be officially performed in Connecticut.

2009 On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rejects the state law banning same-sex
marriage. Twenty-one days later, county recorders are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On April 7, the Vermont Legislature votes to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry, legalizing same-sex marriage. It is the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature; the courts of the other states in which the marriage is legal—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa—gave approval.

On May 6, the governor of Maine legalized same-sex marriage in that state in Maine; however, citizens voted to overturn that law when they went to the polls in November, and Maine became the 31st state to ban the practice.

On June 3, New Hampshire governor John Lynch signs legislation allowing same-sex marriage. The law stipulates that religious organizations and their employees will not be required to participate in the ceremonies. New Hampshire is the sixth state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

On June 17, President Obama signs a referendum allowing the same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits. They will not be allowed full health coverage, however. This is Obama's first major initiative in his campaign promise to improve gay rights.

REFERENCES
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0761909.html
Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. 7th ed. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2007.


Prejudice

By: Peggy Nichols and Nick Winters

There are many different ideas of what the meaning of prejudice is, but the correct sociological definition is “A negative attitude based on faulty generalizations about members of specific racial, ethnic or other groups.”

Stereotypes:

Stereotyping is over generalizations about the appearance of the behavior or other characteristics of members of particular categories. Some examples of negative stereotyping take place in the sport world. A lot of teams have mascots such as the Atlanta braves, Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins, which some Native Americans claim it trivialize and exploit native American culture. In conflicts, people tend to develop overly-negative images of the other side. The opponent is expected to be aggressive, self-serving, and deceitful, for example, while people view themselves in completely positive ways. These stereotypes tend to be self-perpetuating. If one side assumes the other side is deceitful and aggressive, they will tend to respond in a similar way. The opponent will then develop a similar image of the first party, and the negative stereotypes will be confirmed. They may be growing worse, as communication is shut down and escalation heightens emotions and tension. there are more subtle forms of bias, such as those based on people's gender, national origin or occupation. For instance, Asians are expected to be shrewd and reserved, Americans arrogant and materialistic, Central Americans disorganized and impractical. Such biases are more difficult to recognize, yet are a fact of life. These biases can affect how negotiators see others. They can also affect how negotiators see themselves, and so lead to self-defeating expectations. Negotiators may expect to be the object of others' prejudices, and so may expect to be ignored or dismissed. several ways of combating these subtle biases. The basic tactic is to focus on the particular individual, rather than on their ethnic or national background. Remember that there are often greater differ differences within a group than between groups. Productive interactions between different groups can also counteract stereotypes. Recognizing that you yourself might hold or be the victim of biases is the first and most crucial step in combating prejudice.

Racism:

Racism is a set of attitudes beliefs and practices that is used to justify superior treatment of one racial or ethnic group and the inferior treatment of another racial or ethnic group. Racism has existed throughout human history. It may be defined as the hatred of one person by another or the belief that another person is less than human, because of skin color, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person. It has influenced wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes. During the past 500-1000 years, racism on the part of Western powers toward non-Westerners has had a far more significant impact on history than any other form of racism, such as racism among Western groups or among Easterners, such as Asians, Africans, and others. The most notorious example of racism by the West has been slavery; particularly the enslavement of Africans in the New World, slavery itself dates back thousands of years. This enslavement was accomplished because of the racist belief that Black Africans were less fully human than white Europeans and their descendants.

Oscar Grant
Young Oscar Grant was shot and killed in full view of the public and multiple videocameras shown for the world to see by former Bart county cop Johannes Mehserle in collaboration with a gang of other Bart county police officers. As the Mehserle defense attempts to make their case to win a change of venue, citing "racial polarization," threats of violence and other arguments to win a change of venue, we must remember that African people and victims of police violence in this country have historically not been given a fair trial. In fact, the state apparatus protects itself. It is a rare occurrence to even have a police officer stand trial for the "use of deadly force." History shows that police are systematically acquitted of murder. Oscar Grant and his friends were in the Bart train station, following police orders according to Oscars friends and eye witnesses, when all of the sudden an officer placed his knees into Grant’s neck, stepped back and shot his weapon without any hesitation.

Racism is everywhere and everyone has some sort of connection to either someone who is racist or who is on the lower side of racism (being discriminated against). You cannot see racism from the outer shell, often times you will find people you never thought would be racist are. Even the people we have been told we can trust and look up to can be racist. Racism also is not just in the United States it is all over the entire world. From the institutionalized racism, especially in colonial times, when racial beliefs, even eugenics were not considered something wrong, to recent times where the effects of neo-Nazism is still felt. Europe is a complex area with many cultures in a relatively small area of land that has seen many conflicts throughout history. A very well known event that shows both racism and stereotyping is the Holocaust. The Holocaust is the term generally used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, its allies, and collaborators. This is probably one of the biggest historical events that has impacted our world today.

An Example of a widely known racist group is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The first branch of the Ku Klux Klan was established in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May, 1866. A year later a general organization of local Klans was established in Nashville in April, 1867. Most of the leaders were former members of the Confederate Army. During the next two years Klansmen wearing masks, white cardboard hats and draped in white sheets, tortured and killed black Americans and sympathetic whites. The present-day Ku Klux Klan is not one organization. Rather it is made up of small independent chapters across the United States. The formation of independent chapters has made the KKK groups more difficult to infiltrate and researchers find it hard to estimate its numbers. KKK members have stepped up recruitment in recent years but the organization continues to grow slowly, with membership estimated at 5,000–8,000 members.

Theories of prejudice:

Some theories of prejudice focus on how individuals may transfer their psychological problem onto an external object or person (family, friends ect.). Others look at factors such as social learning and personality types. The frustration- aggression hypothesis states that people who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve highly desired goal will respond with a pattern of aggression with others. The object of their aggression becomes the scapegoat (A person or group that is incapable of offering resistance to the hostility or aggression of others). Scapegoats are often used as substitutes for the actual source of the frustration. For example, members of subordinate racial and ethnic groups are often blamed for societal problems over which they have no control. Symbolic interactionists believe prejudice is learned from learning and imitating significant others such as parents and peers. Psychologist Theodor W. Adorno concluded that highly prejudice individuals tend to have an authoritarian personality which Is characterized by excessive conformity, submissiveness to authority and tolerance insecurity a high level of superstition and ridged stereotypic thinking. This type of personality is most likely to develop in a family environment in which dominating parents who are anxious about status and physical discipline but show little love in raising their children.

Works Cited:
Sociology in our times. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Diana Kendall, 2007. Print.
Youtube. 5 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmJukcFzEX4>.
Wikipedia. William Simmons. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan>.


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