Saturday, February 14, 2015

The effects of prejudice in America


“Facts don’t cease to exist because they are ignored.”~ Aldous Huxley.

A prejudice is a silent evil demon; its voice is reality.
A study published by Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues at Yale University provides some important facts that we should not ignore.
 In this study half the scientists were given the job application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the female applicants were rated significantly lower than the males in competence, how likely they were to be hired, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.
 The scientists also offered lower starting salaries to the “female” applicants: $26,507.94 compared to $ 30,238.10
  I also want to make clear that both male and female scientists were equally guilty of committing gender bias. (In other words, the gender bias has nothing to do with all the lies that we hear on a regular basis to justify the difference in salaries.)

 Four in ten American households with children under 18 include a mother who is the sole or primary earner for her family according to a Pew Research Center Analysis of Census and polling data. It has quadrupled since 1960.  Yet women in the US make an average of 0.77 cents to men’s $1.00 doing the same job.
  Women constitute over half of the United States population, but a woman has never been able to become president or vice-president. 
In 2013 women represented only 10% of all governors and held 18% of all US congressional seats.  
 Only 12 of the 100 largest cities have female mayors.
 Twenty-three states have never had a woman as a governor (California and New York are in this list).
 Do you think these figures reflect “equality”?

There is evidence of gender discrimination against female candidates. In 2008 an experiment was done where two congressional candidate credentials were presented to a sample of respondents: Republicans were more likely to say they would vote for a father with young children rather than a mother with young children. They were also more likely to vote for women without small children than with small children.  

   Not only do voters discriminate on the bias of gender, political parties do as well. When a sample of female state legislators was asked whether or not they believed that their political party encouraged women more, less or equally encouraged women and men, 44% of the sample responded that the party was more encouraging to men. Only 3% responded that the party encouraged women more than men.
  When I was preparing this post I came across the comment of a woman who had worked as an engineer in three countries: the United States of America, the UK and Norway. She said that she had endured sexism in the workplace in both US and UK, but not in Norway. She also shared this interesting article. As far as I know many women in Norway work part-time and the economy did not collapse.
 In Norway gender equality is taken so seriously that they recently passed a bill to make military service compulsory for women.This is not something I would recommend in the United States of America because  sexism is routine in American Military Academies according to the Pentagon
  A sexist culture is deeply ingrained there. Not surprisingly, Defense officials said that students at the academies see sexual assault and crude behaviors as an almost accepted part of their academy experience. Victims feel peer pressure not to report incidents.

  Sexism does not always happen on an unconscious level. It comes to the surface and speaks to us clearly when we hear remarks like the one made last year by Erick Erickson when he said that situations in which women are the breadwinners are “unnatural”. He also stated that the male is the one that has to dominate. 
   Sexism still exists, so why do so many people get mad when we talk about it? Why do they believe that we should ignore the matter and pretend that it does not exist?
 The US Constitution embraces equality and liberty, but reality has not caught up with it yet.


22 comments:

  1. Hi Julia,
    I really like this post,congrats. I think that sexism still exists even in the USA. The point here is this sexism is 'masked' different than other cultures in the world. We have a 'modern' version of sexism.We women are more free,can study and work...but.... When is time to find a job things changes a lot. I believe than only women can change this terrible inequality.Many more things are pending to do. More freedombetter payments,better jobs ,better benefits .North european countries are more equitative regarding this issues. That is why the COO of Facebook,Sheryl Sandberg as a glob and publiseh a book called Lean In, in which sehe encourages women to take action,to sit in the big table and to raise their voices.Thank you my friend .The numbers are the numbers and are really bad against women.Have a nice weekend .

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    1. I'd like to read Sandberg's book.
      I hope that by the time my daughter becomes an adult, women will no longer be treated as second-class citizens.
      Thanks MS!

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  2. Hello Julia,

    This is a most interesting post.

    You are quite right that prejudice in all its forms thrives on silence. The less people are prepared to debate and discuss issues such as those you raise here, the more ingrained attitudes become. Since, in our view, prejudice generally comes from ignorance.

    We have always found it alarming that women generally are very harshly critical judges of other women. Why this should be we are not at all certain but if women are to succeed then their fellow women need to be supporters of their cause.

    In our experiences, good women do manage to reach the top of their professions but, it will be when mediocre women reach the top, like so many mediocre men have before them, that they will really have succeeded in the workplace.

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    1. I agree with you that the less they are willing to discuss these issues the worse the problem becomes. Prejudices are related to ignorance, whether they are unconscious or conscious.
      But the study I showed you was done with highly educated people, so highly educated people (both men and women) were biased in favor of men.
      This post s not about whether women manage or not to get to the top. It is about the fact that they are not treated fairly.
      Thank you for commenting.

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  3. Julia: The only way to achieve real equality is to talk about it, so I really don't know why people shy away. The one thing I do notice about your post is the emphasis on what is still wrong. When I look at those stats, I see that women have come a long way. I am very optimistic. It was not that long ago when they did not qualify for jobs at all and gender was a legitimate basis for denying college admission.

    Prejudice of any kind is tantamount to ignorance. Also, prejudice is quite different than bias, despite media rants. I'm not certain we can ever end prejudice because we cannot fix "stupid." However, we can focus on gender bias, which runs rampant in our country.

    Between you, me, and the lamppost, in my years as an employer, I thought women were extremely serious and competent. Maybe it's because I have three daughters and they can run circles around most of the guys I know. In any event, good post!

    Hope you enjoyed a great Valentine's Day.

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    1. Thanks JJ. I simply showed facts here. I don't think there is anything positive about the fact that women work more to earn less and that they have to perform better to "prove" something that does not need to be proved.
      Yes, prejudice is ignorance and it translates into bias. But even highly educated people are biased against women as I showed on this post.
      Your comment reminded me that I need to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

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  4. A though-provoking post for sure. It's so easy to forget that, despite some gains, there is still a long way to go. I had an interesting discussion about this with my writing group today, and, as a matter of fact, I was the oblivious one, assuming too easily that more gains have been made than is actually the case. Posts like this keep the awareness alive.

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    1. True, Elizabeth.
      Thank you for your support. I'm glad to know that you are discussing these matters.

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    2. I believe firmly that educating ourselves is the best vaccine against lies.

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    3. I believe firmly that educating ourselves is the best vaccine against lies.

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  5. Perhaps people ignore it because they don't want it to be true?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. And by ignoring it, they become part of the problem...
      Thanks Patsy!

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  6. great blog and very informative!
    gender discrimination is another cultural shock i had after i came to this country. however it struck me as something very subtle, as on surface, you don't see it. not only that, i saw how women treated kindly, how well they are protected by gentlemen, comparing with women in china. i was shocked to know the facts that the women still receive unequal treatment in the places that are not so visible, such as in military, job markets, etc., like what you provide here. this is quite opposite of situation in china, where women seldom be treated unequally in professional fields (which we have to give credit to communist party, who "liberated" chinese women once for all), but often seen mistreated in daily life.

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    1. Yes, it is subtle and sometimes it is not subtle at all. I live in the Midwest and I've noticed that there is subtle pressure on women to be obedient and submissive here. (Both men and women are guilty of this!). On the other hand, I've had to deal with men who are rude and disrespectful and this seems to be accepted here. I find it deeply disturbing. I've been shocked by these attitudes.

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    2. I believe you Julia, as I don't know American culture as much as you do. My observation is relatively superficial and second hand (I live in South but my health issue made me housebound like a hermitess for years).

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    3. Thanks. It happened to me in the workplace and even mentioning it here caused me great distress!

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  7. Thank you for stopping by my blog.
    I had to come back and read this post. I am glad that you wrote it because I would feel funny writing some thing like this. I would always be unsure of my observations as I am from India. I would always think that my thinking was biased.
    I know that I could be guilty of sexism as I tell my daughter to learn to cook for when she is married while I tell my sons to learn to cook for when they are in dorms and for when they are tired of fast food. Now I don't tell my daughter to learn to do things for when she is a wife, instead I tell her to practice housework as it is good for her. I think we women are sexist too.

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  8. Julia, you are so right, “prejudice is a silent evil demon.” What’s troubling about the Corinne Moss-Racusin study, besides the results, is how both the male and female scientists were guilty of committing gender bias. You’d think the female scientists in particular would be more aware and empathic to how this bias affects female applicants. It’s disheartening the way that attitude prevails. On average, women are not getting equal pay for a job equal to that of a man, and yes, often the mother is the sole primary earner for a family. In a country like ours, this should not be so!

    Also, the inequality that exists in our government, where women are over half of the US population yet no woman has ever been president or vice-president and we have very low numbers in Congress, state and local governments, is unacceptable. The US is behind many other Western nations in that regard. I completely agree that there is gender discrimination against female candidates, not only by voters but by political parties; I find that disturbing.

    I had heard a few years ago about the progressive attitude toward women in the workplace in Norway and how gender inequality is taken very seriously there. If it were not for rampant sexism, the US could do that too. Yes, a sexist culture is displayed in the military community and sadly victims feel peer pressure not to reports it. It’s so ingrained everywhere in the US. Erick Erickson’s remark is absurd and that man is living in the wrong century! Julia, thank you for talking about sexism and gender inequality. There are many who try to pretend it doesn’t exist but it does and it needs to be talked about!

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    1. You raise many important points, here, Madilyn.
      Thank you for your support, Madilyn.
      "Erick Erickson is living in the wrong century". Your comment made me laugh, my friend. Good point! Nicely said.

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  9. Hi Julia .. I know I'm late - apologies. I'm afraid it seems to be getting worse ... as are other prejudices .. if only we could be humans.

    I don't know if you've come across this chap - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Stevenson - a really interesting, informative person - I heard him talk on one of our radio shows: Desert Island Discs (5) in the Wiki notes .. you may not be able to get - but he's done a TED talk I see. Well worth checking him out ..

    So much inequality still .. so sad ... have a good trip - cheers Hilary

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I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.