UC IrvineSocial Science Dept.Dr. Doug WhiteAnthro 174AW

Final Paper


Women's status is a complex issue and a hard-to-define subject. Around the world, women's status in each society and culture varies in different ways. In some societies, women's status improved gradually, while in other, it declined or remained unchanged. What affects women's status in a society? In what kind(s) of society, /is women's status /is/ among the highest? And why? My research paper will focus on the relationship between women's status and the degree of stratification and wealth of a society.


Measurement of women's status:

First of all, I realized that there is no standard on how people define and judge women's status in a society. In my point of view, one of the judgements /that could be used for women's status is the "opinion of people/," which includes two areas - society and family. That is, how the public views females and /how parents' treatment /to/ /of the daughter compares to /that of the son. (See group III for related variables used.) This group of variables is going to be compared with other groups of variables in different areas to test my hypotheses. Besides, there are another two groups of variables related to women's status /that are selected to be used in the paper. (See group V and group VI.)

Factors /that affect women's status:

First, a woman's ability to survive, that is, what /I/is refer/red to as financial independence for women nowadays, would affect /women's/their/ status in most societies. I believe it is more likely that people would have more respect /for/on/ productive persons than /for/independen/ce/ts/WHY? in most cultures. Therefore, I suppose women's contribution to be one of the factors affecting women's status. Variables related to this topic are collected in group IV.

Second, /in a society in which castes and/or slaves exist, that is, /in/ a non-egalitarian society, women are more likely to have a lower social status. My point is, /in such a case/if/ the public believe/s that human beings are not equal, and thus/,/ they classify people into different classes, socially or politically. Then speaking of genders, there must be a higher class as well. Would that be male or female? I suppose it to be male. The reason is that/,/ males are physically advantage/d/ous/ relative to females, and therefore, males are traditionally valued over females in many cultures. (Females could hardly talk about equal rights with males in jungles/[but look at the Mbuti of the Iruri forest for example-- doesnt it depend on the society?] rather than in highly developed civilized societies.) In addition, the e/g/quality between people is usually /taken/took/ very seriously in a developed country. /Because/ /S/s/tratification is very possibl/e/ly /to become/ a force of resistance to the thriving of a country/why?- dont you mean to gender equality?/.

Third, is there a relationship between wealth and women's status? I suppose that as a society gets wealthier, the higher the women's status will be. This hypothesis is based on a scenario that when a society becomes rich, one of the reason/s may//be more and more women work as men do, so the working labor of the society is increasing and sufficient, therefore, the earnings of the society increase. In addition, because the society gets rich, it could provide education to more people, /and thus increase its citizens' competition on production. In addition, this will help raising the status of women in this society since women would have more chances /for/to/ learning and working than before.

[Variables Used]

Group I: Social class (v157, v158)

Group II: Wealth (v17, v155, and v156)

Group III: Women's status in general (v581, v590, v616, v626, v630, and v624)

Group IV: Female contribution (v585, v659, v586, v631, and v607)

Group V: Female control (v591, v592, v593, v594, v660, v628, and v615)

Group VI: Marriage (v739, v740)

Group VII: Region (v200)

[Test of Hypotheses]

Social Class and Women's Status
Correlation table
These two groups of variables are negatively correlated with each other. Generally speaking, it suggests, not with a strong correlation figure, that the more levels or classes /that exist in a society, the lower women's status is. For example, the negative correlation between v590, v626, and v157, v158, and v156, may suggest that a declining trend on women's status somewhat corresponds to a more complex degree of social stratification in a society.

Wealth and Marriage Arrangement
Correlation table
The correlations between these two groups of variables are positive and significant at their level of significance. However, marriage arrangement for females seems to be less related to the money and density of population variables /than /as/ marriage arrangement for males/ is/. There is no strong correlation between marriage arrangement and wealth.
Marriage arrangement for females
The strongest correlation /that marriage arrangement for females has among all variables used in this research paper is with v626 and v591. See above link for the correlation table.

Female Contribution and Women's Status
Correlation table
V585 is inter-correlated with each variable of group III (women's status in general). However, there is not much correlation between them except for v616 (preference for children of one sex). /Variables v585 and v616 /have/has/ a positive but weak correlation.

Female Control and Women's Status
Correlation table
Variables in this table are all positively related to v590 (inheritance of property of some economic value.) This result is expected, /and maybe it could be supportive /of how/on/ financial power of women increases their status in the society.


Multiple Spouses and Proportion of Female Contribution
Correlation table
Cross tabulation
The first time I read /this/the/ crosstab table, I was very surprised. It suggests that, in proportion, the more women contribute to the overall substance, the more multiple spouses are allowed for men only! It totally contradicted /with/ one of my hypotheses of "higher productive ability (production value) from females could improve women's status," and it appears to be quite unreasonable. Therefore, I went back to the SPSS samples to check more variables, and finally, I could come up with an explanation, however, it might not be correct and is probably too simplified.

V585 measures the "proportional" contribution of women to the overall substance compares to men. However, /this may occur in a situation /where/that/ men are away from home, most likely when the country are /at war/in wars/ or has been through warfare, /and the number of men /is decreased due to the war, /and/ so there will be more women than men in the society. Therefore, first, women's proportional contribution would be high, and, because women out numbered men, some women would have to share a husband. Hence, the crosstab would show "the more women produce, the more polygyny would be allowed."
/if you control for war and the absence of men due to war, you can test your hypothesis: you will probably find that your explanation does not work, and the unreasonable result holds that greater productivity does not result in higher status, i.e., equity is not automatic/

In the following tables, other variables related to this subject are also included. Most of them have a correlation as expected.
Correlation for v585 I
Correlation for v585 II


In any age, place, and time, women, actually all people, should always remember that, one's status might be determined by others, but it's also always needed to be earned, but not given. Women's status does vary around the world, but the key to improve it is universal. That is /the message is to start from improving oneself.


Please look under Resources section.