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Social Stratification of Gender

Stratification based on gender is one of the most fundamental forms of stratification. The women status was linked to the status of their husbands or fathers. This has been termed natural by functionalist sociologists like Murdock and Parsons. These natural roles thesis has come under attack as women enter the labor force and the traditional patriarchal division of labor is slowly being turned on its head. Women are attached to two-fold stratification – in relation to men and in relation to other women. It operates at two levels that are within the family and outside the family. The unequal access to resources, opportunities and rewards and the rights between men and women are legitimized by patriarchy across societies and cultures. It is reinforced through patriarchy and its institutions, gendered division of labor and social institutions like marriage, dowry, inheritance etc. Marxist school of thought has led to the conceptualization of sexual division in terms of the place of female labour within the class structure and of its functions for capital. They see female subordination as a result of private property, emergence and monogamy. However both Marx and Engels believed that one of the positive fallouts of capitalism is the increased participation of women in the workforce that will lead to her improved status within the family. Both of them also believed that gender stratification can end only in communism when women will own the forces of production along with men. While nature created sexual differences, gender is a social construct according to feminist sociology Ann Oakley. She rejected biological basis as offered by Parsons etc. According to her women are oppressed, as a class by men and patriarchal structures are geographically and historically almost universal.

Recent mobility studies show that women are doing considerably better than ever before. More and more women are getting into employment. Increasing automation in industry and rising share of service sector has led to a change in the nature of the work which has seen more participation from women as well.


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