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4.1: Females as a Minority

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    Gender can be a primary division for different groups around the world. Societies often separate people by sex category and prescribe behaviors for them based on those sex categories; however, those behaviors (considered masculine or feminine) change depending on the culture in which they are practiced. No matter how gendered behaviors are labeled and assigned, the outcome remains the same: Women and men will have different access to power, prestige, and life chances. These divisions typically favor males, as most societies still assign males to be the standard and females to be a deviation from that standard. Consequently, sociologists identify females as being a minority group. This might seem odd, since women outnumber men. But a minority group is not determined by numbers of people making up a group. Rather, a minority group is a term referring to a category of people differentiated from the social majority; i.e., those who hold the majority of positions of social power in a society. A minority group is a group discriminated against based on characteristics such as sex, race, age, class, religion, sexual orientation, etc., regardless of their numbers. In this chapter, we’re going to focus on gender discrimination, and women’s struggle against gender discrimination around the world.

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