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I would like some help in understing the usage of "of" in the sentence:

Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender.

perceptions of individuals

treatment of individuals

To my understanding, the sentence implies something done to individuals not by individuals. But it is unclear to me how it is used here. Would anybody kindly help me to understand this usage more clearly?

thanks in advanced for any help

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The phrase 'perceptions of' is ambiguous: perceptions held by (. . .there is increasing recognition of the value of research that examines the direct experience and perceptions of children . . .) and perceptions regarding (Teachers' and Peer's Perceptions of Children with Learning Disorders . . .) [both Google]. In your example, as you say, the 'perceptions regarding' sense is meant. –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 3 at 6:50
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3 Answers

Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender.

This sentence structure, unequal treatment or perceptions, should be treated as if it is saying unequal treatment or unequal perceptions.

of individuals based on their gender is the prepositional phrase, and it modifies both unequal treatment and unequal perceptions.

Written in its expanded form, this sentence states, therefore,

Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender or unequal perceptions of individuals based on their gender.

Obviously, this does not happen spontaneously; someone is doing it. In this case, someone is doing this to other individuals, but this is implied or taken for granted. If you want to incorporate who is doing what to whom, you can include the implied doer of the action by expanding it further. The doer can be someone, anyone, people, any 'other'.

Gender inequality refers to anyone's unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender, or anyone's unequal perceptions of individuals based on their gender.

If this does not clear up the confusion please feel free to ask me further questions in the comment section.

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This structure is:

noun + of + noun

Perception + of + individuals

In this particular case, of marks a noun as modifying another noun. We don't speak about any kind of perception. This is only about perception associated with individuals.

From the dictionary:

of:

  1. Associated with or adhering to: people of your religion.

  2. Centering on; directed toward: a love of horses.

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Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender

The term gender inequality refers to
1. treating men and women differently (unequal treatment/ discrimination), or
2. how one even thinks (perception) of men and women differently

HTH.
(The above explanation may be over-simplified.)

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