Civic Engagement and the Gender Lens
Gender transformative approaches to civic engagement not only engage issues of race and class, but also gender equity and gender norms. Gender equitable programs can address the disparate needs of women and girls when it comes to welfare reform, healthcare, workplace policy, or immigration because of their gender role. At the same time, norms for masculinity and femininity are linked to young people's engagement in voting, in community organizing, workplace advocacy, or social justice campaigns.  Below is a listing of key policy papers on gender equity and civic engagement, followed by studies on gender norms' impact on participation in civil society.

Table of Contents


Gender Equity
• Coaches influence young men's civic engagement through masculine norms (2010)
• Gender equity is needed in welfare policy (2010)
• Campus culture reinforces masculine norms linked to civic engagement (2009)
• Immigration reform disproportionately affects women and children (2006)
• Immigration policies can support women and children (2004)
• Welfare policy needs to address gender and race (2003)
• The gendered balance between work and family reinforces inequity (2000)

* = at-risk or disadvantaged population

Gender Equity

Young men’s beliefs about their own masculinity are often attached to athletic success. Coaches are in special position to shape young men’s developing beliefs about masculinity. By fostering belief in fair play, respect, and teamwork coaches can contribute to the development of ideas of masculinity that are attached to civic engagement.

TITLE: "Pick Up the Ball and Run: Sport, Civic Engagement and Young Males”
AUTHOR: Neil Hall
YEAR: 2010

Welfare policy continues to be structured in ways that decrease gender equity by making assistance less accessible for single women and women of color. Legislation has further reduced gender equity by systematically eliminating guaranteed welfare for poor families with dependent children. This is partly in response to racially-charged gender stereotypes of single black mothers as undeserving "welfare queens” intent on gaming the system. Because most single parents with dependent children are overwhelmingly women, policies like this disproportionately impact women. This disparity will continue until a stronger gender analysis is applied to welfare, childcare, and parenting policy.

TITLE: "Stratification of the Welfare Poor: Intersections of Gender, Race, and ‘Worthiness’ in Poverty Discourse and Policy”
AUTHOR: Bridgette Baldwin
YEAR: 2010

Campus culture reinforces gender norms that push young men towards competitiveness and hyper-masculinity rather than to service and civic engagement. Interactive experiences that challenge masculine gender norms are needed to encourage young men to be more involved in their communities.

TITLE: "Gents, Jerks, and Jocks: What Men Learn About Masculinity in College”
AUTHOR: Frank Harris and Laura Struve
JOURNAL: About Campus YEAR: 2009
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Wiley

Although often not recognized as such, immigration reform disproportionately affects women and children. Undocumented women are more likely to be exploited, both financially and sexually, by employers, than undocumented men. Even when not migrating, women are often left responsible for childcare as single parents when men migrate in search of work. Yet immigration and citizenship policy is often "gender blind," almost as if all immigrants were all single males with little risk of exploitation, no dependents, and strictly in search of labor. Immigration and citizenship policies need to integrate a strong gender analysis that takes equal account of women and children, and the added responsibilities of dependent female parents.

TITLE: "No Separate Peace: Immigration Reform is a Woman’s Issue”
AUTHOR: International Examiner
YEAR: 2006

Immigrant women are especially vulnerable to abuse. They are often disconnected from support networks, unfamiliar with local resources, face language barriers in accessing resources, and have huge caregiving burdens if they are parents of dependent children. Immigration policies which are "gender blind” ignore the differences between male and female immigrants, and the special needs of women and mothers. Immigration policies that integrate a gender analysis acknowledge the differing roles of women and would result in support services for women (crisis centers, reproductive health resources, etc.), available in multiple languages, and not contingent on citizenship or legal status.

TITLE: "The Facts on Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence”
AUTHOR: Futures Without Violence
YEAR: 2004

Despite recent advances among stay-at-home dads, child care remains traditionally and overwhelmingly the responsibility of women. The fact that women continue to be paid markedly less than men and the high rate of single parent families headed by women results in a substantially larger proportion of women than men in need of welfare. Rather than applying a gender analysis that would address this inequality, recent welfare reforms have systematically denied women increased or equitable access to welfare, with women of color affected the most.

A gender analysis of welfare reform, which takes into account women’s additional responsibilities as mothers and wage inequality is desperately needed. This report offers specific recommendations for how to reduce racial disparities in the welfare system and how to ensure participation of women of color in welfare decision-making processes.

TITLE: "Gender, Race, Class and Welfare Reform: The Need for Targeted Support”
AUTHOR: Women of Color Policy Network

Most workplaces are structured around traditional norms of a male workforce in little need of accommodation for parental leave or regular parenting duties. Excluding these accommodations undermines workplace equity by reducing women’s wages, promotions, and overall inclusion in the workplace. Women who take time off of work due to pregnancy have a difficult time being reincorporated into the workforce, often finding their career paths severely interrupted or sidelined. Women are also more likely to take parental leave after childbirth which further interrupts career progress in workplaces that lack policies to ensure their full reintegration.

In effect, workplace policy continues to be largely "gender blind," ignoring the differing needs of men and women, effectively disfavoring female employees who are nonetheless generally expected to function effectively as employees while being full-time mothers and caregivers. The result is wide disparities between women’s and men’s wages, workplace achievement, and job participation.

This system, while terrible for women, is also terrible for men and families. Gender stereotypes that establish female caregiving as the default while scorning "house-husbands" make it harder for men to become more deeply involved in caring for their children and families, or to take paternity leave when a new child is born. Both women and men are forced to constantly make decisions between their family and their career. Women are pressured into choosing family while men are pressured into choosing career and, as a result, both miss out on something crucial to healthy family and child development.

TITLE: Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to do About It
AUTHOR: Joan Williams


Gender Norms

Young men’s beliefs about their own masculinity are often attached to athletic success. Coaches are in special position to shape young men’s developing beliefs about masculinity. By fostering belief in fair play, respect, and teamwork coaches can contribute to the development of ideas of masculinity that are attached to civic engagement.

TITLE: "Pick Up the Ball and Run: Sport, Civic Engagement and Young Males”
AUTHOR: Neil Hall
YEAR: 2010


Gender norms lead men and women to respond to political messaging in different ways. When politicians run negative campaigns it encourages male voter turnout more than female voter turnout. This means that the tone of political campaigns is an important factor in determining the rates at which men and women turn out to vote on Election Day, and avoiding negative campaigning can help boost female turnout.

TITLE: "A Negativity Gap? Voter Gender, Attack Politics, and Participation in American Elections”
AUTHOR: Deborah Brooks
JOURNAL: Politics & Gender YEAR: 2010




Campus culture reinforces gender norms that push young men towards competitiveness and hyper-masculinity rather than to service and civic engagement. Interactive experiences that challenge masculine gender norms are needed to encourage young men to be more involved in their communities.

TITLE: "Gents, Jerks, and Jocks: What Men Learn About Masculinity in College”
AUTHOR: Frank Harris and Laura Struve
JOURNAL: About Campus YEAR: 2009
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Wiley

The more time women or men must devote to doing housework, the lower their wages tend to be. This is important because women are still expected to do vastly more housework than men. "Gender blind" policies that overlook this fact substantially disfavor women. Promoting equitable participation in jobs and wages means adopting a gender analysis that recognizes and responds to the unequal burdens of housework, homemaking, and care-giving.

TITLE: "Home Production and Wages: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey”
AUTHOR: Joni Hersch
JOURNAL: Review of Economics of the Household YEAR: 2008
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Springer



Feminine gender norms encourage young women to have a stronger preference for helping others in the community which is directly linked to involvement in community service. As a result, female high school students tend to be more involved in community service, a form of civic engagement, than their male peers. This study also shows that increased involvement in community service activity results in higher college graduation rates.

TITLE: "Do Gender and Ethnicity Affect Civic Engagement and Academic Progress?”
AUTHOR: Alberto Davila and Marie Mora
Dissertation YEAR: 2007

The gender diversity of African American males’ friendship groups is an important factor in increasing their civic engagement. When African American males form diverse groups of friends that include large numbers of women and men, they learn to trust and work with a wider range of people. This makes them more likely to get involved in social organizations or causes. Gender transformative approaches that challenge traditional norms of men socializing only with other males, and women socializing separately, would help increase civic engagement among young Black men.

TITLE: "African American Males’ Civic Engagement: The Importance of Social Organization Involvement and Friendship Diversity”
AUTHOR: G. Lawrence Farmer
JOURNAL: Journal of African American Studies YEAR: 2006

This study shows that, by their adolescence, youth have already learned to be civically engaged in gendered ways. Young men perform masculine norms by speaking first and often in model UN meetings and other extra-curricular activities. Young women perform feminine norms by remaining silent and often deferring leadership to young men who may be less qualified. Through these early experiences adolescents learn that politics are gendered in favor of men and young women are often discouraged from continuing their involvement.

TITLE: "Gender Discourse in the Political Behavior of Adolescents”
AUTHOR: Cindy Rosenthal, Jocelyn Jones, and James Rosenthal
JOURNAL: Political Research Quarterly YEAR: 2003
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Sage Journals for $25
Traditional masculine gender norms have encouraged men to be civically engaged in large-scale and public ways while traditional feminine norms have encouraged women to be involved in very local, limited, and private ways. This study shows that community organizations often reinforce this divide by recruiting men to high-profile positions while recruiting women to low-profile positions.

TITLE:"Constructing the 'Neighborhood Sphere': Gender and Community Organizing”
AUTHOR: Deborah Martin
JOURNAL: Gender, Place & Culture YEAR: 2002
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Taylor & Francis for $35


Feminine gender norms encourage young Latina women to believe that voting is important for the sake of the community while masculine gender norms lead young Latino boys to believe that voting is important to serve their own personal needs. Young men are socialized to ask for "the best candidate for me” while young women are taught to value "the best candidate for us”. Both of these motivations for voting result in about the same voter turnout, however, as "we” mentality is more likely to lead to other forms of civic engagement, like community organizing and community service, than a "me” mentality.

TITLE: "They and We: Identity, Gender, and Politics among Latino Youth in Los Angeles”
AUTHOR: Garcia Bedolla
JOURNAL: Social Science Quarterly YEAR: 2000
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available for $11 from Refdoc



Gender norms lead young men and women to be civically engaged in different ways. Women tend to be less politically interested and informed than men on national issues and candidates. However, because women have traditionally been expected to be responsible for children, women are more likely to be informed on issues of education and are more likely to be able to name local school officials. If we want men to be more involved at the local level and women to be more involved at the national level, we need to challenge the cultural masculine norms that reproduce these differences.

TITLE:”Women in Computer –Related Majors: A Critical Synthesis of Research and Theory from 1994 to 2005.”
AUTHOR: Sidney Verba, Nancy Burns, and Kay Schlozman
JOURNAL: The Journal of Politics YEAR: 1997
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Available from Cambridge Journals for $25.00

 





   

 

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