Framing Gender

  • Susan R. FiskEmail author
  • Cecilia L. Ridgeway
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


In this chapter, we give a micro-level, social psychological account of how the gender beliefs evoked by sex categorization reinforce and recreate gender inequality. We argue that social interactions are framed by gender because people instantaneously and unconsciously sex categorize each other, evoking cultural beliefs about men and women. While these cultural beliefs help actors navigate social interaction, using gender as a primary frame for making sense of others brings cultural understandings of gender into all social interactions. This causes men to have more status and influence in small, goal-oriented groups, thereby advantaging them and recreating existing gender inequality in settings that vary from the workplace to the home. Because of our reliance on gender as a primary frame for understanding others, cultural beliefs about gender are rewritten on to new activities, causing gender inequality to persist in the face of societal change. Despite the increasing number of social interactions that occur online and mounting challenges to the gender binary, we argue that these processes will continue in the future unless conscious effort is made to disrupt them. We conclude with suggestions on how future research can illuminate tools to interrupt the effects of the gender frame.


Gender beliefs Interaction Status Sex categorization 



We would like to thank Jon Overton for his diligent and thorough work as a research assistant.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kent State UniversityKentUSA
  2. 2.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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