Gender Discrimination against Women

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Updated: Mar 28, 2023
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Growing up as a woman I heard the phrases “take it like a man” and “man up” when talking about someone’s courage or strength. However, you never her “running like a girl” or “playing like a girl” as a confidence booster, they are meant to be heard as insults. The phrase “don’t be such a girl” makes women seem like they are weak and delicate. This is an example of sexism in our daily lives. Gender discrimination includes sexism and is the bias or discrimination, typically against women, towards people’s gender identity.

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Sexism in language is where the language excludes sex while describing a subject that could be either sex. The word mankind makes it seem like there are only men in the world; the word humanity or humankind; however, it is exclusive to both sexes and does not take on a particular gender. The U.S Declaration of Independence states “all men are created equal.” Many Americans were taught that in this situation “men” should be read as meaning both men and women. The gender concentration of language also can play a significant role in outcomes related to education, salary, and business leadership. Language though subtle reproduces the social status in favor of men. So, does gender discrimination and sexist language diminishes the equality among men and women?

Most people believe that gender discrimination and sexist language do diminish equality. If the bias is removed, the separation of genders would slowly disappear. However, disbelievers in this believe getting rid of especially sexist language would not directly change equality.

Gender discrimination against women still occurs every day in the twenty-first century. We are all taught from a young age, that boys play with superhero’s or action figures while young girls are taught to play with dolls and makeup. Growing up people describe males with words such as dominant, strong, and aggressive, while girls can be described as passive, ditsy, and fragile. From even a young age girls feel like boys are stronger and tougher than them. Traditional gender roles come from that teaching to our children that boys are stronger than girls. Even later in life women, especially in the workplace, face the wage gap where a woman makes 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Women are also more likely to be employed in positions with lower status because it is much harder for women to find jobs than men or will work where a man is in power and control of the workplace.

Sweden is globally known as the most gender-equal country and is one of the places for women. Sweden believes that women and men should hold equal power to shape society and their own lives. In the article “Sweden’s new gender-neutral pronoun: Hen” by Nathalie Rothschild she explains how for many Swede’s “gender equality is not enough” and they believe the country should be gender neutral and there should be no differences in sexes. They even went so far as to create a gender-neutral pronoun “Hen.” There are many supporters for “Hen,” but also many opposers whose primary concern is the effect will this have on children and how it might be confusing to them in the future growing up with no genders. By placing a gender-neutral pronoun, the use of sexist language is avoided, and therefore equality is throughout the country.

Wendy Kaminer’s discusses issues of interchanging sex discrimination and gender discrimination in her article “Let’s talk about gender baby.” Even though at the beginning of the article she discusses how feminist are critiqued for trying to get rid of “gendered language” in our vocabulary. Kaminer supports her fellow feminists for trying to eradicate this “gendered language.” She, however, critiques the same feminist for using or promoting the words “woman” and “women” as adjectives, for example, she asks why there are ‘women doctors’ but no ‘men doctors.’ The word woman is a noun, and it should not be used as a descriptive word. Kaminer talks about the distinction between Sex discrimination and Gender discrimination. Gender discrimination according to her is to “discriminate against a woman who dresses like a man.” The definition of sex is the biological category of male and female and gender refers to the cultural norms of masculinity and femininity. Therefore Sex discrimination is the discrimination of one because of their biological sex. There have been many issues of cases which sex discrimination cases are being categorized as gender discrimination. For example, Joseph Oncale, who was once was physically assaulted and threatened with rape from his male colleagues took his case to court. The supreme court allowed him to present his case as categorized as “same-sex” under the employment law. However, the issue was that Oncale suffered gender discrimination and not sex discrimination.

There have been multiple research studies on the effects of gender-fair language. An essential study tested by Sandra Bem and called the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) studied how people identified themselves psychotically and measured an individual’s masculinity and femininity. She also studied job advertisement as the descriptions analyzed the wording of job advertisement. By studying the ads, she discovered that women were more willing to apply for a non-stereotypical job when advertised without a specific wanting to one gender. The majority of research has shown that masculine pronouns used to describe ideal applicants for open positions usually reduce women’s motivation to apply for that job.

Sexism and sexist language do diminish the equality between men and women and getting rid of sexism and gender discrimination will help equality. When people are discriminated against the line of inequality is unfortunately reinforced. Some people believe that gender equality does not mean that males and females are the same or identical. On one hand that is true gender equality does not mean that males and females have to be equal. However, Gender equality means seeing males and females with the same status and value; It is not judging a person based on their gender or viewing them as inferior or superior based on their gender. Instead, equality is viewing a person based on their virtue, worth, and value.

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Gender Discrimination Against Women. (2021, Feb 20). Retrieved from