Gender identity, gender inequality and gender stereotypes are three good research paper topics for your sociology major or gender issues class. This article also has tips citing resources, searching databases and using effective keywords for finding information on gender issues.
Gender identity no longer a disorder
Making news and pleasing the transgender community is the American Psychiatric Association’s Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which no longer labels transgendered people with a “disorder” or a mental illness. Now they are diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” which is a temporary mental state for “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This is an improvement in the DSM that had considered homosexuality a mental illness up until 1973.
“All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context,” said Jack Drescher, a member of the APA subcommittee working on the revision, in the article “DSM-V To Rename Gender Identity Disorder ‘Gender Dysphoria,’” by Camille Beredjick, posted in Advocate July 23, 2012. “We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize,” said Drescher.
Gender inequality and the gender pay gap
It is surprising that in 2014, women still earn less than men. Gender inequality in pay is still a concern and often makes the news. “The sources of the gender pay gap can usefully be divided into two broad sets of causes directly related to gender: gender differences in qualifications and labor market discrimination against women,” said Francine D. Blau, economics professor at Cornell University, in the essay “The Sources of the Gender Pay Gap,” published in the 2012 book The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time, edited by David B. Grusky and Tamar Kricheli-Katz, found on Questia.com.
According to Blau, the pay gap is narrowing. In 1980, women earned 64% of what men earned; by 2010 it had grown to 81%. Changes in each of the causes Blau described “have played a role in the decrease in the gender pay gap we have observed over time.” Contributing to women’s pay upgrade:
• Improved education for women
• Improved skills base for women
• Occupational upgrading: women moving out of clerical and service jobs and into professional and managerial jobs
• Deunionization: men, who tend to be unionized at a rate higher than women, have lost high paying union jobs
• Less discrimination of women in the labor market
Gender stereotypes marketed to children
Nothing tells little girls how they’re supposed to be beautiful and find a husband like a Disney cartoon. In “Cowboys and Princesses” posted February 9, 2013, on Jennifer Tells A Story, Jennifer Liu wrote: “The huge problem that I find with these portrayals of men and women in their socially-determined roles is that they are being marketed toward young children, who then have this kind of idea ingrained in their behaviors and interactions with others. It really makes me wonder how many individuals haven’t pursued certain things that they might excel and be geniuses at, simply because they’ve been told that it wasn’t ‘right’ for them based on their gender.”
To counter Disney, there are gender bending cartoons such as DreamWorks’ Shrek in which the damsel fights her own battles, kicks some Robin Hood butt, refuses to marry the nobleman she’s intended for, chooses love over beauty and even does “unladylike” things like belch and eat spider web cotton candy. The movie also portrays an inter-species romance between the huge female dragon and the talkative little donkey.
What do you think would make good topics for a gender issues term paper?