Women in Comparative Societies

Measuring and Comparing WomenÕs Status


CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75


Worldwide, women enjoy less status and power than men


True?  Mostly true?  Sometimes true?  Used to be true?


 What kinds of power and status do men enjoy to a greater degree than women?


Do women enjoy any kind of power or status to a greater degree than men?


What kind?  In what societies?







Economic Power and Work

  Imported from JPEG image:

Absence of women from highest levels of economic power elite (only 4% of US CEOs are female)

40% of women worldwide work

     Gender pay gap:  yet they earn 15% less than men worldwide

     Regional differences:  US/Europe 20% less; sub-Saharan Africa 50% less; Middle East 70% less.


     Feminization of poverty

     A majority of the 1 bln people in the world living on less than $1/day are women



Why the pay gap?  Why is poverty more likely for women?
















     WomenÕs work in the private sphere

     Reproductive labor often not considered work




     Development of money, surpluses, trade (exchange)


     Exchange Value vs. Private Use Value

          Exchange Value in the public sphere

          Private Use Value in the household


Data we should seek to measure womenÕs economic status/power:

     % of women in the workforce

     women as % of workforce

     % women economic elites (e.g. CEOs/executive positions, highest income levels, property owners)

     pay gap – try to get figure for men and women doing the same work for the same amount of time

     hard to come by












     occupational segregation

     compare low status menÕs job wages to low status womenÕs job wages


     data on educational attainment, literacy are also useful as they are indices of womenÕs earning power

     fertility rate (average number of births per woman), rates of contraceptive use, average age at marriage

     also helpful in assessing womenÕs economic power

     especially to compare womenÕs earning power in one region to another





Political and Legal Power

Women have gained voting rights in most countries only in the last 30 yrs (18)

Only 9% of presidents and prime ministers worldwide

19% of the worldÕs legislators are female (16% in US)


Regional differences

     Scandinavia highest rates of women representation   

     Rwanda highest in world


     US below global average; around rates found in Latin America





Data to Seek 

If country has ever had female president/PM; % women in parliament; prominent women politicians; how they got into politics; if there is a Ministry of Women





Religious power

     Most religious leaders are male

Power to define, interpret religion most often only allowed men

Most religions have asserted that the Divine/Natural order of things is for women to be subordinate to men by Divine/natural  



Data to Seek
Major religions, breakdown

Tenets of the major faith(s) regarding women

Women in positions of religious power

Rate of believers, non-believers or degree of secularization

History of religious influence on organization of society, law





Social Status

     Margaret Mead

ÒPrestige values always attach to the activities of menÓ



     From US

     From other cultures


     = Male privilege


     Son preference

     Sex selective abortion


     Daughter preference in US


          In adoption

          In US society, IVF



Data to Seek

Evidence of sex selection; gender preference for offspring

Public opinion data on respect for women, men

Aphorisms, folklore, sayings, customs






Females as Property

     as property

     as currency, commodity, something with exchange value



     In US?



Data to Seek

Customs such as bride price, dowry, child brides

Age at first marriage






Physical Violence against Women


     Proof of womenÕs lower status or something else?


Data to Seek

Rate of intimate partner abuse

Laws on violence against women, enforcement of

Rate of sexual violence against women

Laws about sexual violence, enforcement of