Sexism: Prejudice against Women
How it works
Since the beginning of time women have been seen as the lesser sex in comparison to men. Women have had to fight hard for the rights that they get to enjoy today but that does not mean that they are free from prejudice. This essay explains the fact that women are facing a multitude of discrimination in fields such as STEM when it comes to being hired, being paid a fair salary, and being represented when compared to men. Likewise, this essay discusses how women face hostility when it comes to their reproduction in terms of pregnancy, abortions, and health care, and how men see women as mere sexual objects.
Prejudice is a common issue that underlines all human-kind despite the hope to hold everyone to the same respect. Prejudice is defined as an individual having the hostile attitude that drives forth stereotypes and discriminations which are directed to a specific group of people (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016, pp. 414-421). Stereotypes are a belief that certain characteristics define a group of people and these characteristics can be both positive and negative (Jost & Hamilton, 2005, pp. 209-210). Usually, it is these negative stereotypes that one develops that cause them to discriminate against a specific group of individuals. Discrimination is when a person intentionally harms another solely because they belong to a group. Prejudice towards women can be seen through gender discrimination and stereotypes women must face in the STEM fields, creating a family, and by being sexually objectified.
How it works
Women and Prejudice in the STEM Fields
Throughout history, women have had to constantly unite and fight against and prejudice. In the past it was discrimination in terms of gaining the right to vote, being thought of as the weaker and more emotional of the two genders, and the fight to be able to work alongside men. Today, women have made great strides towards equality but still face many prejudices in the workforce. More importantly, they have been facing discrimination in terms of being hired to a position and in the representation in the STEM fields.
STEM fields involve the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When it comes to hiring in these fields, many have noted that there is not much of a gap in terms of women getting turned away while men are being hired. Despite this belief, a 2012 study proved this view to be otherwise by proving that women are discriminated against when it comes to hiring even when they are at the same level of qualification as their male counterparts for a STEM field position at a university. Science professors at universities were given identical applications for a student laboratory manager position. The only difference between the resumes was a randomly assigned male or female name on the application (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012, p. 16475) The professors then determined the female applicant to be less qualified for the job, offered less career mentoring to the female applicant, and gave the male applicants an extra $4,000 in their salary, further proving how discrimination exists between the two genders (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012, p. 16475). There is no reason to give the female applicants a lesser salary since they had the exact same application other than the indicating gender-specific name. This proves that prejudice against women in the STEM Fields is alive and well. Sadly, prejudice against women in the STEM fields does not end even if a female was to get a STEM position over a male.
Some point out that women do not face discrimination in the STEM fields since data shows there to have been a jump in women gaining their doctorate in STEM fields from 1960 to 2006 with the projection of these statistics rising higher in the near future (Aronson et al., 2016, p. 423). Even though women have made great strides in narrowing the gap in these fields, the idea that they no longer face discrimination is wrong since the data even shows that women are still outnumbered. One theory for why men outnumber women is seen through gender stereotypes that are set in childhood. For example, in a study consisting of a sample including both men and females. Participants completed daily diary surveys where the researchers discovered that females were less likely to commit to their STEM field because of lower self-efficacy and value fit (Hall, Croft, Block, & Inness, 2018, pp. 246-9). These negative feedbacks are due to the gender roles or stereotypes that parents have placed upon them as children. For instance, females are taught at a young age that they are the weaker and less intelligent of the two sexes (Aronson et al., 2016,p. 418-9). Additionally, an article states that the underrepresentation in both STEM-related fields such as math, and in the workforce altogether is caused by the discrimination of forcing women to choose between having their career and creating a family. (Ceci & Williams, 2010, p. 5). Clearly, women have to fight against gender discrimination in the STEM workforce, and women also have to fight prejudice when it comes to starting a family.
Prejudice Against Women and their Reproductive Health
In the past women were expected to be the care-takers of the household but lately, women have made great strides in making a name for themselves through gaining not only an education but paving a career for themselves. Through this process, however, women have a difficult time when it comes to their work. While some women do choose not to have kids, a good portion of women will become pregnant while employed. Although there are maternity leave laws in place, many women still face the hostility from peers and negative stereotypes as well as fighting against men over abortion and health care rights.
Women are now being pushed to go gain an excellent education and build a career for themselves. Therefore many believe that women no longer have to choose between their career and family. However, after returning to work from maternity leave, many women are faced with being called neglectful since they are not at home with their child (Hebl, King, Glick, Singletary, & Kazama, 2007, p. 1499). These hateful attitudes towards these women prove the idea that women are still expected to put their careers on hold for their family. Sadly, these prejudices do not stop at these negative stereotypes. A study from 2007 proved there to be other prejudices against women wanting to start a family. By using a field study the researchers discovered that when a woman appeared to be pregnant, by using a prosthesis, she experienced greater hostility than non-pregnant looking women when applying for a job (Hebl et al., 2017, pp. 1503-6 ). Furthering the argument that prejudice exists against expectant women, a study was conducted with a sample of randomly selected pregnant women who were asked to journal experiences in which they felt prone to conceal/ hide their pregnancy (Jones, 2017, pp. 242-3). The results of this study showed that these women tended base whether they concealed or disclose their pregnancy upon their expectation for discrimination to take place (Jones, 2017, p. 246). It is evident that the idea that women are capable of having both a family and career without judgment is wrong. An excellent indicator of this was clearly seen when one participant of the study recorded in her journal that a male co-worker asked if she was planning on coming back to work after having her baby (Jones, 2017, p. 245). This co-worker indicated the stereotype that women should be at home with the kids while the men are at work by asking the participant if she would be returning back to her job. If this participant was a man whose wife was expecting a baby no one would question if he would be at work after the birth. Disappointingly this is not the only time men feel the need to shine prejudice on women in terms of their reproductive health.
Male’s and their theorized dominance over women, whether it is intellectually, physically, or politically, seem to believe they should have a say in the decisions regarding women and their reproductive health. While many argue that men speak up and attend protests in order to back women, it is clear that more often than not men tend to take action to prevent women partaking in controversial areas of their own reproductive health, such abortions and birth control. While late-term abortion has been legalized in New York, a few days into his presidency Donald Trump and six other males signed their names on an executive order that took away monetary funding for abortions (Petterson & Sutton, 2018, p. 235). This clear prejudice is also seen in recent survey results from Nigerian women. In a sample of well over 27,000 women, only 6.2% of them were able to make a decision regarding health care for themselves while 61.1% reported the decision being made by their husbands (Osamor & Grady, 2017, p. 75). While it is clear that a few women were able to make their own decision, the majority were not. As additional backing over women’s discrimination on reproductive health, another article states that two studies resulted in hostile sexism related to men’s right to not financially support a women’s abortions, to override a woman’s decision when it came to pregnancy and childbirth, and overall constrain women’s reproductive health decisions (Petterson & Sutton, 2018, pp. 239, 242-3). Clearly, these women are being discriminated against by not being able to choose health care that is right for their body. Prejudice against women does not stop there but it also is very clear in the stereotype of women being sexual objects for pleasure.
Women Being Sexually Objectified
It is not uncommon to see women being degraded for their appearances. In the past women dressed in clothes to make them appear sexy were used on war posters to influence men to either join the army or buy war bonds to support the ongoing battle. This same stereotype of women being only something pretty to look at is still very much in effect in modern times. On a daily basis, women are bombarded with men making them into sexual objects.
Like in the times of war posters, women are faced with being sexualized in advertisements that they have to see daily. For example, an advertisement for Custo clothing was described as a picture of a man who is clearly sexually aroused holding a woman, who appears to be feeling unsettled within his arms with one hand resting on her naked leg (Stankiewicz & Rosselli, 2008, p. 579). Additionally, in a perfume ad, a woman is pictured wearing nothing but her underwear and a bra that is attempting to come off while being covered in sweat (Stankiewicz & Rosselli, 2008, p. 579). To be just, these women did have their own choice to pose for the advertisements but in both instances, the advisement did not focus on the product they were trying to sell but on the sexualization of the two women pictured. This only furthers the claim that women have to face a stereotype of being sexual objects to gaze at. With these two advertisements in mind, Stankiewicz and Rosselli (2008) decided to examine over a thousand of popular U.S. magazines to determine to extent of which women have to fall victim to this stereotype (p. 583). They concluded that half of the advertisements resented women as sexual objects and that magazines of men’s interests were the most common to portray women in this way (Stankiewicz & Rosselli, 2008, p. 584). It is evident through these advisements that there is prejudice against women by depicting them as mere objects to look at. Women are faced with fighting these stereotypes in their daily lives not only in terms of viewing advertisements but by personal attacks they endure on the streets.
There are some who believe that women only face such personal attacks because they are in clothing that is considered to be revealing. These people believe strongly that the only women that are attacked with derogatory actions are those who are “asking for it” by the way they dress. However, in 2014, an activist group by the name of Hollaback uploaded a video which proves otherwise. Hollaback’s video shows a young woman dressed in modest clothing who had to endure well over a 100 cases of verbal sexual harassments, winks, whistle, stares, and crude gestures while she was walking down the street (Holland, Koval, Stratemeyer, Thomson, & Haslam, 2017, p. 314). In a separate study consisting of female participants of the ages 18 to 46, the researchers tested the number of times women were sexually objectified during the course of their day (Holland et al., 2017, pp. 318-9). The data proved that this stereotype of women being seen as sexual objects by men exists by indicating that 75% of the participants had to face at least one sexual objectification act a week (Holland et al., 2017, p. 323). Even more so, these women recorded having to endure a sexualized gaze every two days while also seeing other degrading actions committed towards other women every day (Holland et al., pp. 323-8). Women are faced daily with this struggle to overcome this prejudice of being more than a sexual object.
History has clearly shown that women have had to face discrimination by fighting for the right to vote, for a place in the workforce among men, and to overcome many stereotypes that place women as lesser than men. Women have made great strides in their progress for equality that influences some to believe that prejudice against them no longer exists. However, it is beyond clear that women have to face discrimination in being hired, receiving equal pay, facing hostility towards their reproductive health, and being classified as sexual objects. While there needs to be more research completed in determining if more women are judged if they are pro-choice or pro-life, it is clear that sexism is alive and well. However, prejudice can disappear if women are treated as equals in the workforce and if women are given control over their own bodies without being degraded as sexual objects.
- Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., & Sommers, S. R. (2016). Social Psychology. Boston: Pearson, 414-421, 423.
- Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (2010, October 6). Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science. PNAS-Psychological and Cognitive Sciences. p. 5.
- Hall, W. M., Croft, E., Block, K., & Inness, M. (2018). Should I Stay or Should I Go? Women’s implicit stereotypic associations predict their commitment and fit in STEM. Social Psychology, 49(4), 246-9.
- Hebl, M. R., King, E. B., Glick, P., Singletary, S. L., & Kazama, S. (2007). Hostile and Benevolent Reactions Toward Pregnant Women: Complementary Interpersonal Punishments and Rewards That Maintain Traditional Roles. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1499, 1503-6.
- Holland, E., Koval, P., Stratemeyer, M., Thomson, F., & Haslam, N. (2017). Sexual Objectification in Women’s Daily Lives: A Smartphone Ecological Momentary Assessment Study. British Journal of Social Psychology, 314, 318-9, 323-8.
- Jones, K. P. (2017). To Tell or Not to Tell? Examining the Role of Discrimination in the Pregnancy Disclosure Process at Work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 242-3, 245-6.
- Jost, J. T., & Hamilton, D. L. (2005). On the Nature of Prejucide. Blackwell Publishing, 209-210.
- Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students. PNAS, 16475.
- Osamor, P., & Grady, C. (2017, February 10). Factor Associated with Women’s Health Care Decision-Making Autonomy: Empirical Evidence From Nigeria. Journal of Biosocial Science, 75.
- Petterson, A., & Sutton, R. M. (2018, June). Sexist Ideology and Endorsement of Men’s Control Over Women’s Decisions in Reproductive Health. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 42(2), 235, 239, 242-3.
- Stankiewicz, J. M., & Rosselli, F. (2008, April 1). Women as Sex Objects and Victims in Print Advertisements. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 579, 583-4.
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Sexism: Prejudice Against Women. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/sexism-prejudice-against-women/