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In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of gender inequality in contemporary society. We begin by reviewing several theoretical frameworks that have been used to explain women's subordinate position in society. After a discussion of the historical development of gender theory, we use a gender structure framework to organize contemporary theories into the analytic categories of individual-, interactional-, and macro-level explanations of gender inequality. Next, we illustrate both progress that has been made toward gender equality and the level of inequality that remains, and sometimes has even increased, in three realms: education, paid employment, and the family. We close the chapter by discussing the prospects for a world without gender inequality – stressing the way gender consciousness must coincide with change in interpersonal interactions and organizational structures.
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