Sources of Inequality

Sources of Inequality

Gender Inequality:

Historically women have been blocked from access to education and the professions. In recent decades huge progress has been in terms of equal rights for men and women. This progress is reflected in the Equal Pay Act (1970) which made discriminatory pay for women unlawful.

Now more than ever women in the UK can reach the highest professional and educational levels, although they are still under-represented in parliament, in business and in law. Feminists argue that women are still discriminated against in the workplace and that there is a long way to go.


Those from ethnic minority backgrounds still face major challenges when it comes to reaching the highest social classes. Although improvements have been made in the last 40 years or so, the unemployment rates for people of Pakistani or Black Caribbean heritage are higher than those for white people. The government has tried to address this issue with legislation. For example the 1976 Race Relations Act made discrimination based on ethnicity unlawful.


Ageism is the term used to describe discrimination against people based on their age. In some cultures older people are automatically given a certain level of prestige. This is not the case in the UK, where people nearing retirement age struggle to find a job appropriate to their skills and experience. Additionally the elderly tend to be pushed to the margins of family life and to experience a drop in social status once their level of economic productivity diminishes.

Younger people may be denied jobs on the basis that they lack relevant work experience.