Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gender conundrums


Why do women who work full-time usually earn so much less than men? A study described at the Pacific Standard suggests an explanation where other variables won't cut it.

An analysis by three University of Warsaw scholars finds that nations using relatively gender-neutral languages have a smaller gender wage gap.

...The researchers note that some languages, such as French, link specific nouns to genders. Others, including English, use different pronouns for men and women ("his" and "hers"). In contrast, they write, "Mandarin or Finnish have no system of gender identification in the language."

...The result: "We find that nations with more gender-neutral languages tend to be characterized by lower estimates of a gender wage gap."

They admit that gendered languages may reflect societal norms about gender rather than create them. But they nonetheless find a strong correlation between large wage gaps and a strongly gendered language.

This is interesting in light of the efforts of many persons to evolve less gender specific ways to use pronouns in English which we discussed on this blog a couple of weeks ago. This is a tough project. We learn very early that it is essential to identify immediately the gender of each new person we encounter. But what if it is not?

Or am I just reacting to being called "Sir" by an older male clerk in Walgreens tonight? I know he is bored, but hey ... look at the damn customer!

2 comments:

Hattie said...

My daughter used to get that "sir" thing, but she dresses more femme now.
One of the exasperating things about German is that occupations are always gender marked: Lehrer vs. Lehrerin (teacher) Arzt vs. Arztin (doctor) and so on.

Brandon said...

"One of the exasperating things about German is that occupations are always gender marked: Lehrer vs. Lehrerin (teacher) Arzt vs. Arztin (doctor) and so on."

Not just German. Many languages have masculine and feminine forms for occupations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_neutrality_in_languages_with_grammatical_gender#Romance_languages
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Bathrooms in residences and small businesses are de facto unisex/gender neutral ones.

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