The World Around Us Is Creating a Biased Version of Ourselves
From the beginning of time, women have been looked at as inferior to men in one way or another. As the stereotypes slowly diminish, people still find themselves with certain thoughts towards females, whether they are one or not.
Women are strong and independent, but this does not make them immune to expectancy bias and stereotype threat. As extremely emotional beings, women may be seen as weak. And when emotion overrides logic, they can be seen as unintelligent. Although being emotional is nowhere near a bad characteristic, some stereotypes can make society think otherwise. Some of these attributes may not be prevalent in a woman’s head all the time, but there are ways that they can be triggered into becoming entertained.
Expectancy bias is a simple yet interesting concept. Say a sibling “never does anything wrong”, so when the mother sees the broken lamp, she automatically assumes it was the other sibling and grounds them, when it was really the other sibling. The mother expects it to be the other child being that the other one usually is well behaved. An expectation can really control the way we perceive and believe things.
A step further into expectancy bias is stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is a situational predicament in which people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group.
For example, Josh Aronson, a New York University professor, has done multiple studies based around expectancy bias and stereotype threat. A study (by Aronson) was done with high school students who were taking an AP calculus test. They were split up in to two different groups. One group was asked to confirm their gender before the test and the other afterwards. “Females who received the gender inquiry before the test scored an average AP Formula Score of 12.5, while males scored an average of 16.5. In the groups that received the gender inquiry after the test, females scored an average of 15, while males scored an average of 14.” (Anderson, 2011) Aronson’s study really sheds light on the importance of what we say and how.
They immediately start to think about the stereotypes about women and begin to subconsciously conform.These subtle triggers are everywhere and are causing women to become more incompetent in school and work without them even knowing it.
This occurs due to stereotypes created in the early 20th century. Women were not usually the ones going out and getting an education and making money for their family. Nowadays, women are very likely to be the bread winner of the family. Women have just as much potential and drive as men in their career of choice. Women and men are not the same, though. Each gender differs in their own way which is the reason why there is TWO genders, not one. “When women hear men say that women are not the same, they most likely hear that they are not equal, therefore hearing that they are less valued. Men, on the other hand, hear from women that they want equal treatment; however, men filter that to mean that they are ‘the same’.” (Torres, 2016)
We are not the same, yet we are equal. To think that we are not as good at something because of our gender is a very outdated way to think. There are different physical and emotional attributes that may favor one career, but this does not mean that the other gender is not equal or not as good. They could work a little bit harder and be just as good as the other.
“How Stereotypes Can Drive Women Away From Science,” by Shankar Vedantam is another article that proves stereotype threat in women is very real in the math or science field. Toni Schmader and Matthias Mehl are two experimenters who studied women and men at work. These subjects are math professors and were wired with a recording device while at work. The main thing Mehl was trying to record was the interaction between the female and male colleagues. This study was prompted by the fact that women are not only less likely to go in the science field, but less likely to stick with it. Women drop out of this type of career at a much higher rate then the male scientists.
The recording devices recorded 30 seconds of audio every 12 minutes. This was a good size sample for analyzing random and casual conversations between colleagues.
Mehl and Schmader immediately proved one stereotype wrong. They debunked the common thought that women talk a great deal more than men. “When Mehl actually measured how many words men and women speak each day, he found there was practically no difference — both men and women speak around 17,000 words a day, give or take a few hundred.” (Vedantam, 2012)
They also found that the more self conscious or worried a women was about whether or not a man (who they were conversing with) held the stereotype about women not being as competent in this particular field, the more incompetent they sounded.
When a woman spoke to another woman, they were fully engaged no matter what the topic was. Meanwhile, when a woman spoke to a man about work or research they were greatly disengaged. Though they could speak to males about other topics and be just as engaged as they would with another woman. Women who focus on the stereotype end up falling into the stereotype threat trap. They do not realize that their fear of not living up to expectations or their fear of being a stereotype, actually makes them a part of the stereotype.
Stereotype threat is caused by old ways of thinking and we must break through and eliminate all stereotypes to completely eradicate stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is a harmful thing to anybody’s life. Making somebody feel less than or not good enough AND making them act accordingly. It is a crazy concept, but is absolutely real and present in our lives. Society must create a better outlook on women if we want women to succeed to their full potential. Stereotype threat is a very dangerous thing, but with modern views and some perseverance, getting rid of stereotype threat will be simple.
Men and Women Are Equal, But Not The Same. (2016, March 15). Retrieved from http://nquotient.com/2016/03/men-and-women-are-equal-but-not-the-same/
Vedantam, S. (2012, July 12). How Stereotypes Can Drive Women To Quit Science. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2012/07/12/156664337/stereotype-threat-why-women-quit-science-jobs/
Why Stereotype Threat Keeps Girls Out of Math and Science, and What to Do About It. (2011, June 01). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from http://theglasshammer.com/2011/06/01/why-stereotype-threat-keeps-girls-out-of-math-and-science-and-what-to-do-about-it/