Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Breaking gender barriers: Sociology isn’t only for girls Temsukumla Ao, Assistant Professor, Sociology

A chauvinistic man may avoid doing any house work because he believes it is a woman’s job. A woman may feel its incorrect to earn a higher salary than her man. Society imposes a lot of unspoken rules and decorum without us realizing it. The saddest part would be if we applied that same prejudice in academics to the very subject (ie. sociology) that is concerned with the study of society. As it appears, gender barriers exist even in the subjects that students opt for, particularly in the field of sociology.
 




Breaking gender barriers: Sociology isn’t only for girls
Temsukumla Ao, Assistant Professor, Sociology
 
“Society is a web of social relationships”- MacIver.
Sociology is the youngest of the social sciences. Its major concern is society, for which it is known as the “science of society”. Like all other sciences, sociology also is concerned with the life and activities of man. Though Sociology is relatively young discipline in comparison with other social sciences, it has gained a place of acceptance within academia. Like other social sciences, it has acquired a distinct status for itself. Its importance and practical usefulness are widely recognized today.

From the above lines we have understood the basic concept of sociology. Now! My area of concern here is – why do more females opt for sociology compared to males. In almost all colleges we find more females taking up sociology and very males opting for this subject. So- Is it because, sociology is a soft discipline? Or, is it because of the subject matter? Or is it because, it is a young social science?

Answers to all these questions could be many, but I personally feel that, many youngsters are unaware of this subject- sociology! And this could be the reason, why we see less interest from students, when compared to subjects like political science, History etc. And also many consider sociology as very simple and a girly discipline. The popular book- “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” explains the character of man and women as: Mars(man) being regarded as a very hot, violent, and red planet and Venus(females) is comparatively a cold planet, also associated with love and attraction and so woman are said to have come from it. These differences in characteristics might be the reason for choosing one subject over another. And when people have this misconception about the subject matter of sociology, we see the imbalance in the gender ratio. The ratio of male and female can be on par with each other only if we can clear out this misconception. Sociology is the study of society as a whole and is a general science of society.

I raised the same question to some of my sociology honours students, as to why they think many men do not take up this subject. And I got very similar replies from them like, many boys think sociology is very simple, girly or a subject for females. Men  mostly opt for political science, History etc. The most interesting reply I got from the students was that sociology as a discipline covers areas like, family, Marriage, Kinship, gender issues, social relationships etc. which so to say; doesn’t fit well with the role of man in our society.

However, there will be differences in every individuals interest. Taking up sociology will not make anyone girly or soft. Likewise taking up others subjects like political science or others streams like science or commerce will not make anyone manly. All the social sciences play an equal and important part in the society, each of them assigned with their own special areas. Therefore as an enlightened individual, one needs to remove these prejudices regarding subjects and be ready to delve deeper into the intricacies of subjects and academics. Most of the social sciences are gender neutral and it would be wise to clear incorrect notions and guide the people who have apprehensions in sociology or others as a gender specific subject

Sociology as a study or science of society, has a lot of scope and importance and career opportunities in a society like ours. Sociology helps us look more objectively at our society and other societies. We are faced with an ever increasingly complex and rapidly changing social milieu in modern society. A study of Sociology provides the conceptual tools and methods for understanding the social milieu.

Sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time; it is a rapidly expanding field. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social systems work. Sociology is an exciting discipline with expanding opportunities for a wide range of career paths. Since its subject matter is intrinsically fascinating, sociology offers valuable preparation for careers in journalism, politics, public relations, business, or public administration--fields that involve investigative skills and working with diverse groups.

It’s time to break down the barriers of gender particularly in sociology. The next time someone wants to take up sociology, don’t let the gender specific apprehensions stop you. Men and women are both part of society. A complete society needs both genders to be aware and complement each other.  


“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org

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