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Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture.

Wood, J. T. (2013). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. Boston, Wadsworth.
Written by leading gender communication scholar Julia T. Wood, GENDERED LIVES, 10th Edition introduces you to theories, research, and pragmatic information, demonstrating the multiple and often interactive ways that our views of masculinity and femininity are shaped within contemporary culture. With the most up-to-date research, balanced perspectives of masculinity and femininity, a personal introduction to the field, and a conversational first-person writing style, this engaging text encourages you to think critically about gender and our society.

A major survey of gender inequality in contemporary society has found lingering echoes of old-fashioned, “male breadwinner” values, but also evidence that men are happier when they do their fair share of household chores.

The findings are among dozens of results that have emerged from a five-year research project investigating equality between the sexes, and which are now being published in a book, Gendered Lives.

It charts the causes, consequences and prospects for what the Danish sociologist, Gsta Esping-Andersen, called an “incomplete revolution” in gender equality in Europe, and asks how greater equality between men and women can be achieved.

Optimistically, parts of the study found that even outside countries such as the Nordic states, where governments have actively promoted measures designed to promote greater equality, the gap between men in women in fields like the division of domestic labour is closing.

At the same time, however, the initiative also identified causes for deep concern. Many companies in the UK, for example, still see little incentive for altering the employment conditions of their staff to ensure that the work-life balance of men and women is equitable. Several of the researchers involved in the project also conclude that the only way to close certain aspects of the gulf between the sexes, such as the gender-pay gap, is through legal compulsion.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was deliberately wide-ranging and complex. It covers attitudes and approaches towards gender equality over time, in different countries and at different levels – ranging from government policy to individual families. The researchers argue that this approach is important because we can only improve gender equality if we understand that it is the consequence of a network of multiple causes and effects.

Jacqueline Scott, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and co-editor of the book, said: “There has been a lot of social theory about how people ‘do’ gender, in other words, how they behave in accordance with society’s expectations about what it means to be a man or a woman.”

“What we sometimes forget is that institutions are doing gender as well. Politicians, employers, schools and kindergartens, care homes and many other organisations all make decisions which impact directly on what is expected of families and these can challenge or reinforce traditional ideas about what men and women can or cannot do. If these decisions are not joined up, it can limit real gender equality overall.”

The idea of an incomplete revolution refers to a mixed picture in terms of gender equality across Europe. Since the 1960s, society has witnessed the demise of the traditional “male breadwinner” family, in which men went out to work and women stayed at home. More women have gone into higher education, managerial jobs, or professional occupations. Many now earn a salary comparable with their male counterparts.

At the same time, however, it is widely acknowledge that the gap has not closed completely. Many women still struggle to strike a work-life balance, especially when it comes to having children. Some decide not to have children for the sake of their careers, while others “rein in” their careers to start a family. Often they do this by reducing their working hours; in the UK, for example, 40% of women work part time, compared with just 10% of men. And the gender gap has only narrowed in certain areas – women still shoulder far more unpaid housework, for example.


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