Sex segregation

Sex segregation (or sex separation) is the physical, legal, and cultural separation of people according to their biological sex. Sex segregation can refer simply to literal physical and spatial separation by sex without any aspects of discrimination. In other circumstances, sex segregation can be controversial. Depending on the circumstances, it can be a violation of capabilities and human rights and can create economic inefficiencies, while some supporters argue that it is central to certain religious laws and social and cultural histories and traditions.[1][2] The term gender apartheid is used for to segregation of people by gender.

The term gender segregation is used in a similar way to sex segregation, even though sex and gender are usually considered distinct concepts.

Sex separation is common for public toilets and is often indicated by stick-figure gender symbols on the toilet doors.


The term "sex" in "sex segregation" refers to apparent biological distinctions between men and women, used in contrast to "gender".[3] The term "segregation" refers to separation of the sexes, which can be enforced by rules, laws, and policies, or be a de facto outcome in which people are separated by sex. Even as a de facto outcome, sex segregation taken as a whole can be caused by societal pressures, historical practices, and socialized preferences. Sex segregation can refer to literal physical and spatial separation by sex. The term is also used for the exclusion of one sex from participation in an occupation, institution, or group. Sex segregation can be complete or partial, as when members of one sex predominate within, but do not exclusively constitute, a group or organization.[3]

In the United States some scholars use the term “sex separation” and not sex segregation". [4]:229 [5][6][7][undue weight? ]

The term gender apartheid (or sexual apartheid) also has been applied to segregation of people by gender,[8] implying that it is sexual discrimination.[9] If sex segregation is a form of sex discrimination, its effects have important consequences for gender equality and equity.[3]

A sign mandating sex segregation on a women's only car in India.