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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $32.95

256 pp.
1 b/w line illustration, 6.125" x 9.25"


Publication date:
February 2011

Imprint: OUP US

Framed by Gender

How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World

Cecilia L. Ridgeway

In an advanced industrial society like the contemporary U.S., where an array of legal, political, institutional, and economic processes work against gender inequality, how does this inequality persist? Are there general social processes through which gender as a principle of social inequality manages to rewrite itself into new forms of social and economic organization?

Framed by Gender claims there are, highlighting a powerful contemporary persistence in people's everyday use of gender as a primary cultural tool for organizing social relations with others. Cecilia Ridgeway asserts that widely shared cultural beliefs about gender act as a "common knowledge" frame that people use to make sense of one another in order to coordinate their interaction. The use of gender as an initial framing device spreads gendered meanings, including assumptions about inequality embedded in those meanings, beyond contexts associated with sex and reproduction to all spheres of social life that are carried out through social relationships. These common knowledge cultural beliefs about gender change more slowly than do material arrangements between men and women, even though these beliefs do respond eventually. As a result of this cultural lag, at sites of innovation where people develop new forms of economic activity or new types of social organization, they confront their new, uncertain circumstances with gender beliefs that are more traditional than those circumstances. They implicitly draw on the too convenient cultural frame of gender to help organize their new ways of doing things. As they do so, they reinscribe trailing cultural assumptions about gender difference and gender inequality into the new activities, procedures, and forms of organization that they create, in effect, reinventing gender inequality for a new era. Ridgeway argues that this persistence dynamic does not make equality unattainable but does mean that progress is likely to be uneven and depend on the continued, concerted efforts of people. Thus, a powerful and original take on the troubling endurance of gender inequality, Framed by Gender makes clear that the path towards equality will not be a long, steady march, but a constant and uneven struggle.

Readership : Suitable for students and scholars of sociology and psychology interested in gender studies and organizational behavior.


  • "The most important book on gender I have read in decades. Why has gender proved so unbending? Ridgeway gives us answers, and paves the way for a new feminist theory that incorporates decades of studies on how gender bias operates at home and at work."

    --Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law

  • "In lucid prose, Cecilia Ridgeway describes the social psychological processes that continually reproduce gender inequality. Marshalling research from sociology and psychology, Framed by Gender explains why women have not attained equality and what would be required to reach that goal."

    --Alice H. Eagly, Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University

1. The puzzle of persistence
2. A primary frame for organizing social relations
3. Cultural beliefs and the gendering of social relations
4. Gendering at work
5. Gender at home
6. The persistence of inequality
7. Implications for change

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Cecilia L. Ridgeway is the Lucie Stern Professor of Social Sciences in the Sociology Department at Stanford University. She is the recipient of the Jesse Bernard Award for distinguished career contributions to the study of gender, awarded by the American Sociological Association; the Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award, given by Sociologists for Women in Society for career contributions to feminist research; and the Cooley-Mead Award for lifetime contribution to distinguished scholarship in social psychology, awarded by the Social Psychology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Shortchanged - Mariko Lin Chang
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese

Special Features

  • Conventions: ASOA, ESS, MSS, NCSA, PSS, SSS, APA2, SPSP, NWSA, AOM Courses: Psychology of Gender (SS7595), Sociology of Women (SSA610), Social Stratification (SSA130), Organizational Sociology (SS160), Sex Roles (SSA225), Social Interaction (SSA106)
  • Presents a new theory to explain the persistence of gender inequality, demonstrating how personal interactions translate into larger inequalities.
  • Draws on and integrates evidence and arguments from sociology, psychology, organizational behavior, and social cognition.