We know a lot about gender inequality – its history, how
people experience it in their lives, the ways it varies in intensity and form across time and place, the
beliefs that make it seem natural, and much more. The outpouring of research and commentary on
gender inequality over the past half century has been extraordinary. Unfortunately, despite all this, our
understanding of what causes gender inequality remains troubled. Both ordinary people and experts
(such as scholars) commonly fluctuate between simplistic explanations that founder under close
scrutiny and throwing up their hands in frustration over what can seem an enigma beyond human comprehension. Here we will seek to surmount this dilemma. We will explore diverse facets of gender inequality and varied ideas about what causes might be decisive. We will also look carefully at the ways
we can identify and verify the causes of social phenomena. Through these efforts we will aim both to
enhance our under standing of what produces gender in equality and to improve our general ability to do causal social analyses effectively.
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