Gender Inequality

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Femininity and masculinity are socially constructed practices that reinforce gender inequality. Among the most popular variations of the social constructionist theories is the gender role theory as an early form of social constructionism (Gergen, 1985). The focus on power and hierarchy reveals inspiration stemming from a Marxist framework, utilized for instance by materialist feminism, and Foucault’s writings on discourse. Sex is the biological differences between male and female contradicting with gender which is the culturally and socially constructed differences between female and males based on meanings, beliefs and practices that a group associates with feminity or masculinity. Emerging from the criticism of Objectivity, Social Constructionism challenges concepts of knowledge put forward by Positivism, which states that the reality and empirically-proved truths are independent of the mind. For example, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes that "some categories really are social constructions: they exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if they exist.” In fact, there are few scientific studies that currently support a biological basis for substantial differences between the way women and men think. Rather, research indicates there is more variation among women or men on cognitive, emotional and psychological variables than between the two groups (Fausto-Sterling, 1992). Despite this however, the idea persists that women and men are vastly different in their thinking. Hegemonic femininity, also referred to as “emphasized femininity” by some theorists, is a concept that was developed in tandem with hegemonic masculinity “to acknowledge the asymmetrical position of masculinities and femininities in a patriarchal gender order” (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). This theory purports that males possess physical strength, the ability to use interpersonal violence in the face of conflict, and authority while females are physically vulnerable, unable...
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