Two types of discrimination which are experienced by individuals in society are Age and Gender. Gender discrimination occurs when an individual is treated unfairly due to their sex. This form of discrimination is more commonly associated with women as, for example, they can often find it difficult to gain employment in jobs considered to be more suited to men as men are seen to be the stronger sex. Both age and gender discrimination can relate to each other, for example, Google offered their female employees the chance to freeze their eggs until they had finished their career.
However, putting off having a family until you are older can cause many more problems during pregnancy as according to Baby Centre a woman over the age of 35 has a 1 in 100 chance of having a child with Downs Syndrome. (Baby Centre. 2014).
This situation puts a huge amount of stress on women as they have to make the decision whether to leave their employment in order to have a child, or to strive within the workplace and risk having a child at a later age, or even at all.
Discrimination is often based on prejudice and negative stereotypes. A sociological theory that can be used to understand this behaviour is the functionalist. The 4 areas of the functionalist theory are:
Stability and continuity
Integration and interdependence
Consensus on norms, values and roles
If an individual or a group are not seen to be following the norms, values and roles then they are classed as being dysfunctional. Functionalists believe that individuals/groups who are acting in a dysfunctional way should be re-educated, and if this does not work, they should be removed from society. Examples are support groups/community service and removal from society would be prison.
This theory enables any person or group that differs from the expected norms to be discriminated against as the Functionalist theory is forcing them to conform to what is considered to be “normal” by society and not realising that each person has unique qualities that make them who they are. Recently there has been a proposal made for men to share the 12 month maternity leave that woman normally get. This can be seen by some as unnecessary and cause dysfunction within the society.
The Conflict theory can also be a cause of discrimination, as under this theory they believe that power differentials are built into society and that power e.g. money, influence, land and education are unequally shared and those that have the power will do everything they can to hold on to it. This theory states that within society there is conflict over scarce resources and that there is control, coercion and constraint imposed by the dominant groups, meaning that they have the most power in today’s society. Conflict theory suggests that social conflict and change are needed and