Gender oppression is defined as oppression associated with the gender norms, relations and stratification of a given society. Modern norms of gender consist of mutually exclusive categories of masculinity and femininity.
Mainstream sociology initially ignored gender as well as gender oppression marginalizing feminist sociologists in the early years. The subsequent period of structural functionalism supported dichotomous gender norms and their oppression arguing that gender roles and identities served some functions in society.
In 1970s debates started regarding the extent to which differences between the sexes were biological. Studies of gender relations in societies around the world have demonstrated that almost everywhere in the modern era femininity is associated with a public sphere.
At the macro level dichotomous and naturalized views of gender are evident in the gendering of economic, political and other institutions where elite men dominate every major institution in most societies. This gendering shapes the experiences of different groups of women globally and is expressed in higher levels of poverty, lower levels of political power, gender specific health issues such as AIDS, maternal deaths.