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This research paper focuses on the gender gap between men and women in terms of roles rather than the biological differences. It aims at revealing the faces of the gender inequality and clarifying the causes behind this social phenomenon . Mainly the focus will be on the inequality in housework, parenting and relationship in the whole world in general and in Jordan in particular. Practices of gender inequality in the past, present  as well as in future were included. Research survey showed that the family division of work is heavily biased towards women. Generally, when the financial resources of women are greater than those of men, they reduce the time spent on housework and gender gap decreases. Jordanian women still carry out most of domestic work and childcare.

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1. Introduction

Gender inequality is a controversial subject that is prevailed all around the world but it varies in degree across societies. Male and female experience it day by day through their lives. In Jordan, as in many other countries, males and females are raised differently from birth and experience different environments throughout their lives. The male is directed towards tough action whereas females are directed towards a rather softer behavior. So the characteristic of each gender is socially determined.

Due to the differences in the ways each gender acts, whether psychologically, physically or biologically, the genders are differentiated from one another.  On one hand, males and females are supposed to be treated equally. Women have the same capability as men to doing many things. They are very similar in the way the brain works, how they act, basic way of living and much more. Males and females have equivalent rights to all the decisions they make. Nevertheless, there are some differences between the genders. Whether biologically, in terms of hormones, body parts, or in terms of physical abilities, to some extent the genders differ from one another.

It should also be considered that among the same gender, there are inequalities. Whether it was a matter of strength, education, skills, etc.. So how are the people expected to not differentiate between the different genders!

A while back, there used to be a difference between the genders, especially when it came to responsibilities after getting married. The male gender was rather looked at in a way that put all the stress on them. They were considered responsible for the majority of social responsibilities and of course financial ones too. While the females on the other hand were expected to take care of the household .The females were left at home to cook, clean and help educate the children. Although this perception has changed, to some extent this mentality is still found deep down in an Arab’s brain.

1.1 Objective

The objective of this research is to understand how gender inequality is practiced in Jordan, especially at home. This research will also help us understand to what extent gender inequality is practiced, for what reasons, and how it can be overcome.

For the purpose of this research,  the following question is formed:

Does your gender affect your role at home?


2. Literature Review

The terms gender and sex are sometimes used interchangeably, but social scientists and medical personnel are beginning to recognize them as different. Sex refers to one’s biological identity as defined by physical and/or chromosomal makeup. Generally, people are categorized as either male or female depending on their chromosomes and/or genitalia. In other words, Gender inequality can also be defined as allowing people different opportunities due to perceived differences based solely on issues of gender.

Gender inequality refers to the different treatment that men and women receive due to their gender. When women and men do not enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of women and men are not equally valued, then gender inequality exists.

Gender discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual or group due to gender. Gender inequality and discrimination are generally discussed as pertaining to women, but anyone can experience gender-based inequality or discrimination. Whether the individual is a male or female, gender inequality is commonly experienced from the opposite gender.(Kolb, 2018)


2.1. Characteristics of Gender Inequality


Measures of gender inequality include not having access to health, basic education, and life expectancy, inequality of economic opportunity, and political empowerment.

Based on research, it has been mentioned that some of the characteristics of gender inequality are as follows:


·         Gender inequality dwells not only outside the household, but in it as well.

·         Gender inequality is a result of not only pre-existing differences in economic endowments (wealth, income, etc.), but also from pre-existing gendered social norms and social perceptions.

·         Gender inequalities can arise from newly defined rules and procedures that structure the functioning of the governance institution itself, as they do not only rely on predetermined forms.


The conflict of gender inequality is extremely divergent as it arises from several angles. Even if the same point is taken and looked at from different angles, it is only normal that some kind of gender inequality recognized. ( Bina, 2007)  That point of diversion is known as Male Chauvinism’. The word male Chauvinism is a prejudiced belief of an individual or a group of individuals that men are the superior to the women It doesn’t stop on biased categorization of the society in two groups, but further it glorifies one as more privileged and another as merely less privileged. Furthermore, the privileges for one group are decided in accordance with their physical strengths, not the mental capabilities.






2.2 Indicators of Gender Inequality


Being able to indicate gender inequality helps you understand how, and from where it arouse. This indication of gender inequality helps prioritize what is important and which gender issues need to be addressed. In order to measure or determine these indications, indices that have been previously generated by well known organizations are used. Organizations like UNDP5 (United Nations Development Programme), OECD6 (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), World Economic Forum, etc. The UNDP has developed two distinct indicators viz., the Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). The OECD has developed Gender Institutions and Development (GID) database. The World Economic Forum has developed Gender Gap Index (GGI)7 and similarly the MDGs8 (Millennium Developmental Goals) speak of measuring indicators of gender inequality. (Bina, 2007)


2.3. Gender Inequality Faces


Gender inequality is not one homogeneous phenomenon, but a collection of different and interlinked problems. Further, Amartya Sen has identified seven types of gender inequalities;

1.    Mortality inequality

2.    Natality inequality

3.    Basic facility inequality

4.    Special opportunity inequality

5.    Professional inequality

6.    Ownership inequality,

7.    Household inequality.

Thus, the different forms of gender inequality color our life from the day we are born until the day we die. These different faces of gender inequalities impose adversities not only on the lives of women and girls, but also on men and boys. (Sen, 2001)

2.4 Causes of Gender Inequality


The degree and causes of gender inequality vary throughout the world. There are a number of complex factors that explain the existence of the gender inequality. Gender roles that give the impact of gender inequality are the main cause.


Throughout history, people used to believe that like properties, women are owned. Whether they were considered the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles and/or eventually husbands, females were looked at differently. Due to the high impact that history has on us, gender inequality is developed unconsciously. The females are expected to spend most of their days doing free work at home, cleaning, taking care of the children, driving them around and cooking. Yet they still feel like they are in debt to their husbands because they are the source of financial incentives. (Butler, 2017)


Gender roles are passed on through generations. From birth girls and boys are taught their gender roles. Girls are often cradled when they cry, whereas boys are usually left to cry teaching them to “be a man”. Based on previous research, it has been determined that from the age of three, children are able to start becoming aware of the differences between girls and boys based on the actions of the parents and the nature of their environment.


Some even believe that even as young children, gender inequality is with us. As children, gender inequality can be seen clearly when the young children refuse to play with their classmates because they’re not the same gender. Another clear situation where gender inequality applies, is when toys are differentiated by the gender expected to play with that toy. For example, cars are placed in the boys’ toy section, while cars are not just for males. Even not being able to go into a place just because it has “boy” or “male” labeling it, is just slight proof that the inequality vision is something unconscious.


Similar to many other countries, in Jordan men are usually the ones who work all day to bring the money home to the wife and children. So the man of the house is considered the provider and the woman are always seen as the care giver and housewife. However, now a days, even when both ends of the couple work, the male or husband usually feels like she is not supposed to work, and that she is not supposed to help out with the financial affairs. Some males, might even find it offensive if the female helps close some financial duties.


Males and females play out with networking and in preferential treatment within the economic market. Men typically occupy positions of power within the job economy. Due to taste or preference for other men, since they share similar characteristics, men in positions of superiority are more likely to hire or promote other men, thus discriminating against women. This gender bias is mainly set by the society, based on what are seen as suitable roles for females, or roles seen as suitable for males only.


“Radical feminists reject the notion of a ‘female brain.’ They believe that if women think and act differently from men it’s because society forces them to, requiring them to be sexually attractive, nurturing, and deferential. In this view, gender is less identity than a caste position.” (Caldecott, 2014)


“What it means to be a woman, going beyond the idea that it depends entirely upon whether or not you feel like one. But I find it rather lacking to make womanhood a product of social-conditioning, rather than something innate about women, and in negative terms at that. We shouldn’t have to choose between the ideas that gender is purely a social construct “(Caldecott, 2014)


2.5. Gender Inequality in the 19th Century


The issue of gender inequality was very obvious in the 19th century.  Women were thought of as inferior in physical strength, religious traditions and philosophical. They were treated as the inferior sex and were not allowed to take part in voting and politics, certain public events, education and in many professions.  

Females were discriminated against especially, in education, marriage, household and heritage. UNESCO reported the main obstacles that hinder the equality between the two genders which were poverty, geographical isolation, minority status, disability, early marriage and pregnancy, gender-based violence, and traditional attitudes about the status and role of women. “To help countries fulfill their promise to close the gender gap by 2030, the UIS disaggregates all indicators by sex to the extent possible, produces parity indices and develops new indicators to better reflect the equity and inclusion of girls and boys.” (UNESCO, 2018)

In earlier centuries, it had been usual for women to work alongside husbands and brothers in the family business. Living ‘over the shop’ made it easy for women’s duties were to serve the  customers or keeping the accounts in addition  to their household duties. Towards the end of 19th century, men’s place of work was the factory, shop or office. Wives, daughters and sisters were left at home all day to supervise the household duties that were increasingly carried out by servants. (Hughes, 2014)







2.5.1. Marriage


Earlier, people used to get married at a rather young age. Young girls who barely turned 16 years of age, will be in the phase of marriage or preparation for a near marriage. Typically, the groom would be five years older. Not only did this reinforce the ‘natural’ hierarchy between the sexes, but it also made sound financial sense. A young man needed to be able to show that he earned enough money to support a wife and any future children before the girl’s father would give his permission. Some unfortunate couples were obliged to endure an engagement lasting decades before they could afford to marry. (Hughes, 2014)

Men were expected to live a public life, whether it was working in a factory or socializing with like-minded men in public places, like clubs, meetings, or bars. On the other hand, women were usually expected to live their lives largely homebound, taking care of the cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. Free time for women was not supposed to be spent socializing but doing other things related to the maintenance of the family, from sewing socks to laundry.( Sailus,2016)

In Jordan, men were obliged to fulfill the needs of their wives, sisters, mothers, and of course their kids. On the other hand, women have nothing to worry about in this matter. Their husband, brothers, father are supposed to look after their needs. The majority of the Jordanian marriages are based on setting a contract between both ends of the couple with a set of terms and conditions, after being discussed and negotiated between the couple. Strictly, without the permission of the man of the family to get married, females were forbidden from the marriage.




2.5.2 Inheritance

Under Jordanian law of inheritance, a woman receives less than the share of a man when both have the equal degree of relationship to the deceased person. Research has shown that some differences between males and females do exist in different aspects. Even now a days, when many females contribute equally in all the assets and household requirements, the female is entitled to a small fraction of the male’s wealth. This not only applies on the wife, but also applies of the decedent’s sister, mother or even daughter.


Women’s education was not the same as nowadays. Women were  expected to learn what makes her delicate and act as an angel. Education was seen as a training tool for women to attract  husbands through their domestic abilities, middle-class girls were coached in what were known as ‘accomplishments’. In the classic novel Pride & Prejudice  Caroline Bingley lists the skills required by any young lady who considers herself accomplished:

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages….; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…”(Pride and Prejudice, ch. 8)

 Later in the century, when Oxford and Cambridge opened their doors to women, many families refused to let their clever daughters attend for fear that they would make themselves unmarriageable. (Hughes, 2014)

The traditional roles of men and women dictate the focus of that which boys and girls learn in school.  Thus, if girls continue to be sidestepped when considering technical work, women will never have a stronghold in the technical fields, and the traditional views will never change.  These stereotypical roles must be assessed in order to resolve this problem, and girls must be motivated to pursue more technical careers

2.5.4. Work

Compared to the 21st century, there was indeed some contraction in the work open to women, as protective legislation barred their employment underground or overnight.  Generally, male workers used to work very hard in order to secure wages that enabled wives to be full-time mothers.

Researches show that only one-third of all women were in employment at any time in the 19th century (as against two-thirds in 1978, for comparison.), while all men worked. There were only men in the army and navy, in shipbuilding, construction, printing, railways – to list some major occupations – and only male scientists, engineers, priests, City financiers and Members of Parliament.” Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2011)

 The majority of upper- and middle-class women never worked outside the home. Their main jobs were running the house, undertaking domestic work and child care themselves, as well as supervising the servants employed to cook and clean the house. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2016) Spinsters and widows were able to live off their income alone by doing craftwork, running shops or prudently investing resources they had inherited from fathers and husbands.

 Inequality between genders later became the main issue for poverty, especially in the undeveloped countries; there is definitely still a large difference in  basic human rights, resources, economic opportunity, and political rights around the world. Due to the traditional beliefs and cultural restraints enforced by family and community networks, limitations on women; political participation continue to persist; despite the inclusion of quotas for women in national and municipal bodies. Even voting in parliamentary elections, sitting in the House of Commons, and holding government office were confined to men.

In the 1860s, action on the parliamentary voting began.  Personal development linked to the belief that women would use the vote to help create a fairer, more caring society, and a general opposition to war as a solution to disputes. (Cullen, 2012)

2.6. Gender Inequality at Present


Although women enjoy fundamental rights today, gender inequality continues to play a central role in social life. “Today, millennial women are more highly educated than their male counterparts; Millennial men, when surveyed, say that they want to be much more involved as parents than  previous generations of fathers.”

In the 21st century there is a higher equality between the genders; however, it is still not sufficient. In many industries, women still earn less than men despite being hired to perform the same jobs. Women are also more likely to be judged by their looks and how they dress than are their male counterparts.

On a note of contradiction, women are also discriminated against for being not pretty enough, too old. Another form of discrimination is preventing women from climbing the ranks of management because the upper level and executive positions are given to men. In many cultures, women are still viewed as ‘lesser’. In many countries around the world, women are still very much at the mercy of the men who surround them. In the workplace, women are frequently subjected to subtle discrimination by both sexes. Qualified women may be passed over for promotions because they become pregnant.

 “Women are still underrepresented in law and business, the careers from which most politicians come from.  Women are engaged in the politics of their local communities, as well as internationally.  The irregular hours needed to run for a political office will interfere with a women’s role as a mother since women are known   as the childcare providers and housekeepers, and men are the workers outside the home.” (McCall, 2018)

Society constantly promotes gender equality and how males and females receive the same treatment and salary for the same jobs a variety of limitations that still exist today.

Recent researches conducted in the United States of America gender relationships are changing and inequalities between men and women are questioned in virtually every sphere – at work, in the home, and in public affairs. Nevertheless, the facts show that regardless of all the transformations, whether socially, economically or even in terms of challenge, inequality between the genders remains there.

The reason behind why, up until this day remains, lays in how people think about gender as they relate to one another. Day by day people use gender as taken-for-granted common sense to manage their relationships with others. Interpersonal negotiations are constantly influenced by gender stereotypes – and that, in turn, causes older ways of thinking about men and women and their relationships to be carried into all spheres of life and even into very new kinds of tasks and social settings. (Ridgeway, 2011)

2.6.1.Continuing Gender Inequalities

In spite of the development of most of the countries including Jordan, a variety of limitations that still exist today. Even in the United States, there can be little doubt that gender inequality does still persist, as some striking facts make clear: (Ridgeway, 2011)

·         Women earn only 80% of what men earn for the same full time job

·         Women are less likely to hold managerial or supervisory positions, and when they do, their positions carry less authority. 

·         “Housewives” are perceived as in the lower half of all groups in social status, below “blue collar workers.” 

·         Even when both partners earn wages, women do twice as much housework and child care. 

·         To be sure, American women have made substantial gains since 1970. But gains have leveled off since the 1990s, suggesting that the gender revolution may be stalling – or at least slowing down. 


2.7. Gender Inequality in the Future


Until today, in many countries women receive lower pays compared to men. Not only do they receive lower pays, they also have slimmer chances of being a part of the political sector, or a part of the superior members of an organization.

Nevertheless, women are excelling greatly. Whether in education, confidence or even their hard work, women are proving that they are capable of doing what men do when it comes to cognitive tasks. Many females are even up taking strength building sports, increasing their physical capabilities. Some females are now as physically capable as several male individuals. “The USAID Mission in Jordan works with its implementing partners to advocate and promote gender equality across our entire portfolio through cross-cutting activities. All USAID programs advocate changing discriminatory social practices, enhancing support for policy reforms, and expanding access to female-centered services.” (USAID)

This confidence and the increase in capabilities are broadening the opportunities available for females, whether occupationally, socially or even financially. In fact, many countries have begun to enforce equal pay among genders.  (Gaag, 2014)

3. Methodology

Based on the previous theory and researches available on gender inequality, a quantitative research was conducted to proof if gender inequality is still practiced, specifically in the Jordanian households.

In order to conduct this research, a short survey was passed out on a few male and female individuals via social media.  A total of 85 responses were collected, based on the individual’s opinion on gender inequality. The survey was distributed out randomly on the individuals in order to reduce biasness.



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