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Interaction and the Conservation of Gender Inequality: Considering Employment

Cecilia L. Ridgeway
American Sociological Review
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr., 1997), pp. 218-235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657301
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Interaction and the Conservation of Gender Inequality: Considering Employment
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Abstract

How can we explain the persistence of gender hierarchy over transformations in its socioeconomic base? Part of the answer lies in the mediation of gender inequality by taken-for-granted interactional processes that rewrite inequality into new institutional arrangements. The problems of interacting cause actors to automatically sex-categorize others and, thus, to cue gender stereotypes that have various effects on interactional outcomes, usually by modifying the performance of other, more salient identities. Because changes in the status dimension of gender stereotypes lag behind changes in resource inequalities, interactional status processes can reestablish gender inequalities in new structural forms. Interactional sex categorization also biases the choice of comparison others, causing men and women to judge differently the rewards available to them. Operating in workplace relations, these processes conserve inequality by driving the gender-labeling of jobs, constructing people as gender-interested actors, contributing to employers' discriminatory preferences, and mediating men's and women's perceptions of alternatives and their willingness to settle for given job outcomes.

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