chapter  4
26 Pages

Gendering Social Capital: Bowling in W omen’s Leagues?

Yet in fact, as we shall demonstrate later, organizational membership remains segmented by sex in the United States, as well as in most nations.4 The greatest contrast is less in the total number of clubs, groups, and organizations that men and women join, but rather in the horizontal divisions within associational life. Today in many countries certain types of organizations remain disproportionately male, including political parties, sports clubs, the peace movement, professional groups, labor unions, and community associations (see table 4.1). By contrast, women continue to predominate in associations related to traditional female roles, including those concerned with education and the arts, religious and church organizations, and those providing social welfare services for the elderly or handicapped, as well as w om en’s groups. This matters if horizontal segmentation into same sex-related bonding groups has positive functions for members, and yet may generate negative externalities (reinforcing gender divi­ sions) for society as a whole. In a perfectly sex-segmented society, the problem is not that women are not bowling, but rather that they are bowling in w om en’s leagues.5