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Gender-Based Inequality: Housework Proposal


Introduction

The most outstanding aspect of the social status of females and males is the privilege of men in nearly all facets of life, even in contemporary times (Pölkki et al. 20-22). Such culturally-established male supremacy may be explained in different approaches and from various points of view.

The current paper will focus on one of the aspects of gender-based inequality, which is apparent in modern society, that is, the amount of housework that is done by individuals of different sexes. After explaining the problem in question in more detail, as well as describing the significance of the study and its theoretical framework, a review of the scholarly literature pertaining to the topic of gender discrimination will be carried out in order to provide more significant background for the planned research. After that, a method for carrying out a study which will test a hypothesis related to one of the important aspects of gender-based discrimination will be offered.

Background

Problem Statement

In most occurrences within today’s society, women are seen to have less privilege when judged against men (Valentine et al. 806). Women across the globe are expected to devote a significant amount of time to care for their families, and these social expectations and currently existing stereotypes may create serious hindrances for women’s professional growth and success, for the employers prefer to hire those people who, as they believe, will demonstrate greater commitment to working and will have no distractive factors. In this way, although it is often considered that women and men have equal opportunities in the labor market, the implicit unequal perceptions of female and male social positions influence organizational policies of employment and result in gender inequality.

Significance of the Study

For the purpose of this study, privilege will be taken to represent dominance or the ideas that members of a society to whom high status and rights are bestowed are anchored stringently in their gender (Massen et al. 73-92). The significance of this study will be based on an affirmation that if women do not put themselves in positions of contentment with little privilege, they will increasingly attain high status with practical effort and be in equal or nearly equivalent positions as men.

Theoretical Perspective

The feminist theory represents the extension of feminism into theoretical, imaginary, and truth-seeking discussions (Donovan 34). The feminist theories seek to comprehend the aspect of gender inequality by evaluating females’ social tasks, concerns, encounters, welfare, responsibilities, in a diversity of sectors such as the education, the family, and the social sphere.

According to the functionalist feminist theory, the gender role is one of the central elements of the social system; it defines the functional premises of any social system (adaptation, objectives’ fulfillment, integration, etc.), and forms the levels of social, cultural, and personal behaviors (Garcia and Heywood 327). The family institute is interrelated with other social and political institutes, and the gender roles in the family are interrelated with such social changes as differentiation, adaptive renewal, integration, and generalization of values.

The functions of the family are different from the functions of the economy; they involve children’s socialization and emotional enrichment of adult family members. The initial position of the woman in the family structure is defined by her central role in the accomplishment of these tasks and functions. In order to fit these roles, the woman is supposed to be expressive, emotional, and sensitive. The family functions of the woman affect the tasks women attempt to accomplish in other social structures, especially the economy. For instance, women are expected to be engaged in expressive forms of labor.

Therefore, the functionalist feminist perspective was chosen because it allows for demonstrating that the participation of women in economic performance is limited by their responsibilities in the family.

Theory Application and Its Contribution to Research

Gendered social roles are wrongly perceived as the manifestation of natural individual identity, while, in fact, the mechanism of gender development is rooted in the complex of ritual actions taken by a person during social interrelations. In this way, the introduced concept of role-playing is nothing more than an artificial social organization, and gender differences, as well as the existing gender stereotypes, have a social meaning. Therefore, the consideration of functionalist principles in the research may facilitate the comprehension of the social nature of gender inequality in contemporary Western society.

Literature Review

Patriarchy supporters argue that society enjoys numerous benefits because men have privileges in comparison to women (Miller 423). In contrast, feminist activists and supporters are inclined to underscoring the tremendous suffering that women go through for being underprivileged. They affirm that women have over the years suffered discrimination, which is attributable to male dominance.

The situation of men having privilege in modern society in comparison to women has been a contentious issue (Miller 423). Both previous and current studies have evaluated the degree of its occurrence and impact in the community with regard to biological and spatial aspects. Numerous concerns have been voiced, for instance, that women constantly have to accept lower salaries in the labor market than men and to endure being oppressed in the family unit, religion, community, political arena, and general civilization. This has led to restrictions for women because of stereotypical gender roles buttressed both at home and in the workplace. Nevertheless, the improved empowerment of females is notable in recent times, e.g., by women gaining the right to vote and concerns of rising gender equality.

According to Leung, Li, and Zhou, it is evident that through male privilege, the society restricts women in a variety of ways (1153-1154). Mothers go through worse employment disgrace when judged against women without children, while fathers acquire bonuses and higher salaries than men without children. It is often asserted that women undertake most of the household tasks even in homes where the wife is in the same job position as the husband. Mothers (irrespective of whether they are working or not) are normally anticipated to forgo most of their desires and leisure time to cater for household tasks and look after their children. In contrast, fathers are considered good by just having a source of livelihood, and can have their desires and leisure time as much as they like.

Women often have greater anticipations that they have to be married when judged against their male counterparts regardless of the reality that the number of single women greatly exceeds that of qualified single men (Batres, Re, and Perrett 1293-1300). This makes heterosexual monogamous marriages impracticable for a high proportion of women. Also, even when women have technological and legal opportunities, their agency is more restricted.

Methods

Research Question

Can the sex of a married individual be used as a predictor of the number of hours that they spent doing housework or caring about a child over the last month (while controlling for the number of hours that that individual spent working over the last month)?

Variables for the Study

The independent variable: sex of the participants.

The dependent variable: the number of hours spent over the last month while doing housework or taking care of children.

The covariate: the number of hours spent working (to earn money) over the last month.

Hypotheses for the Study

The null hypothesis: The sex of a married individual cannot be used as a predictor of the number of hours that they spent doing housework or caring about a child over the last month (while controlling for the number of hours that that individual spent working over the last month).

The research hypothesis: The sex of a married individual can be used as a predictor of the number of hours that they spent doing housework or caring about a child over the last month (while controlling for the number of hours that that individual spent working over the last month).

Research Design

The research will employ the methods of quantitative data analysis, correlational design. A survey will be administered to the participants of the study in order to collect the data; the latter will then be analyzed by employing statistical software.

Population and Sample

The population for the current study will be comprised of members of young heterosexual married couples (aged 20-35) who have one child (aged 1-5) and live in the state of Virginia. The sample will consist of at least a number of individuals which is sufficient to obtain results at the alpha level of α=.05, the power of at least.80, and to detect an effect of at least a medium effect size.

Data Collection

The data will be collected by utilizing the method of computer-assisted telephone interviewing (Kendall 29). Random phone numbers will be dialed, and those who pick the phone will be asked a number of questions (Part 1 of the survey, see Appendix 1) to decide whether they qualify for the study. If they answer “yes” to every question of this part of the survey, it will be decided that they do meet the necessary criteria, and they will be asked the questions from the Part 2 of the survey. The responses to the second part of the survey will be recorded and stored for further analysis.

Data Analysis

The data obtained via the data collection procedure will be recorded and transformed so that it is capable of being analyzed via IBM SPSS statistical package. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) will be carried out, which will allow for evaluating whether the number of hours spent doing housework or taking care of a child can be predicted from the sex of the respondent while controlling for the number of hours they spent working (Field 479-484). Appropriate conclusions related to the null and research hypotheses will be drawn.

The Methods That Will Be Not Used in the Study

Therefore, a correlational qualitative method was chosen for the study. It will allow to see the correlational relationship between variables, but will not permit for making conclusions about the causal relationships between variables.

On the other hand, if a descriptive quantitative study was chosen, it would only provide the description of the sample (and allow for generalization of the results on the population), but it would not make any comparisons between males and females, which is why this method/research design would be inappropriate.

If an experimental or quasi-experimental method was chosen, it would allow for drawing conclusions related to the causal relationship between variables. However, conducting such a study in sociology is often extremely difficult; in particular, it would be hard or impossible to manipulate some independent variables (e.g., perceptions about women or participants’ gender), making such a study practically unaccomplishable.

It would also be possible to employ one the qualitative methods (e.g., phenomenological or content-analysis) for a study on this topic. This would allow for evaluating the phenomenon from a more subjective point of view, for instance, exposing the experience of the participants of the study. However, such a research would be more subjected to bias than a qualitative study (Creswell 232).

It would also be possible to use the secondary analysis of data, collecting quantitative studies on the topic and conducting correlational quantitative analysis. This would allow for analyzing massive amounts of data, but would require significant effort and, strictly speaking, would not produce any new knowledge, only analyzing the already existing knowledge.

Conclusion

From the literature review, it is apparent that gender-based discrimination and gender inequality still exist in the modern society. The unequal amount of housework that is done by representatives of the two different sexes could be one of the manifestations of such inequality. Therefore, the current paper provides a research proposal aimed at finding out whether the number of hours spent doing housework and caring for a child can be predicted from the sex of the participant while controlling for the number of hours they work to earn money.

It might be hypothesized that the hours spent on housework can be predicted from sex, but not from the amount of time spent to earn money. If this is true, then it could be apparent that doing household duties is a barrier for women to participate in economic activities, for they have to do more housework than men and, therefore, are physically incapable of dedicating the same amount of effort to their work.

Appendix

Part 1

  1. Is your age between 20 and 35 years?
  2. Are you married?
  3. Do you have precisely one child aged 1-7?

Part 2

  1. What is your biological sex, male or female?
  2. How many hours have you spent working in order to earn money over the last month?
  3. How many hours have you spent doing housework over the last month?
  4. How many hours have you spent providing care for your child over the last month?

Works Cited

Batres, Carlota, Daniel Re, and David Perrett. “Influence of Perceived Height, Masculinity, and Age on Each Other and on Perceptions of Dominance in Male Faces.” Perception 44.11 (2015): 1293-1309. Print.

Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, 2009. Print.

Donovan, Josephine. Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2012. Print.

Field, Andy. Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics. 4th ed. 2013. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Print.

Garcia, J. R., and L. L. Heywood. “Moving toward Integrative Feminist Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.” Feminism & Psychology 26.3 (2016): 327-34. Print.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 10th ed. 2016. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. Print.

Leung, Kwok, Fuli Li, and Fan Zhou. “Sex Differences in Social Cynicism Across Societies: The Role of Men’s Higher Competitiveness and Male Dominance.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 43.7 (2012): 1152-1166. Print.

Massen, Jorg, Anne Overduin-de Vries, Annemiek de Vos-Rouweler, Berry Spruijt, Gaby Doxiadis, and Elisabeth Sterck. “Male Mating Tactics in Captive Rhesus Macaques (Macaca Mulatta): The Influence of Dominance, Markets, and Relationship Quality.” International Journal of Primatology 33.1 (2012): 73-92. Print.

Miller, Cherry. “Book Review: Comparative Politics: Breaking Male Dominance in Old Democracies.” Political Studies Review 13.3 (2015): 425. Print.

Pölkki, Mari, Raine Kortet, Ann Hedrick, and Markus Rantala. “Dominance is Not Always an Honest Signal of Male Quality, but Females May Be Able to Detect the Dishonesty.” Biology Letters 9.1 (2013): 20-22. Print.

Valentine, Katherine, Norman Li, Lars Penke, and David Perrett. “Judging a Man By the Width of His Face: The Role of Facial Ratios and Dominance in Mate Choice at Speed-Dating Events.” Psychological Science 25.3 (2014): 806-811. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Gender-Based Inequality: Housework." October 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-based-inequality-housework/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Gender-Based Inequality: Housework'. 18 October.

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