The Impact of Gender Bias, Stereotyping and Discrimination on Women and Girls
Women are physically and intellectually inferior to men; a belief that was commonplace only decades ago. Science has since sought to debunk these beliefs, however, much of the damage has already been done, to society and the brains of many. This is gender bias in its purest form. 184 out of 194 countries in the world have guaranteed equality between women and men in their constitutions as of 2016, however, discrimination of women still persists in ways through: laws and policies, social norms and practices, and gender-based stereotypes.
What is Gender Bias, Stereotyping and Discrimination?
Gender bias is the act of showing favouritism or biased behaviour towards a group or person based solely on their gender. An example of this in the home could be that daughters may be expected to help with domestic jobs such as cooking and cleaning whereas, sons are more likely to be asked to help with maintenance jobs like mowing the lawn. These gender-based tasks teach children from early on that they have different roles expected from them based on gender, this goes hand in hand with gender roles and stereotypes.
Gender stereotyping is a generalised view or preconception about attributes, or characteristics that are, or ought to be, possessed by women and men or the roles that should be performed by men and women. Stereotypes can be positive or negative but this doesn't make their impact less harmful. For example, women are weak or women are nurturing', even though women are nurturing can be seen as a compliment or a 'positive stereotype' it can actually be a harmful belief that women are naturally more nurturing than men when it comes to the persecution of crimes against children, which is often harsher towards women, especially in the court of public opinion. Even though this is not entirely bad, it is still unfair. This can especially be seen in the case of The Moors Murders.
Lastly, gender discrimination is when someone is treated unequally or disadvantageously due to their gender. This is arguably the most overt of the three, often evidenced by statistics.
Where does gender discrimination take place?
It is not always easy to pinpoint gender discrimination as it can happen on multiple levels, from one-on-one interactions to federal and institutional degrees. Some examples include:
It is also important to note that there are many elements of gender discrimination that may be more severe for certain individuals based on added factors outside their sex, such as race, economic status, sexuality, or disability.
The hidden consequences of gender bias, stereotyping and discrimination
Gender discrimination persists in our culture, with women and girls continuing to experience prejudice and impediments to equality in a variety of settings. While overt forms of discrimination, such as denial of education, employment prospects, and political representation, have been identified and addressed by feminist movements worldwide, there are hidden repercussions of gender bias that frequently go unreported.
Teach girls bravery, not perfection | Reshma Saujani on YouTube
One of the biggest effects of gender discrimination is the erosion of women's confidence and self-esteem. When women are subjected to constant messages letting them know they are incapable or undeserving in comparison to men, women then begin to internalise these beliefs and doubt their abilities. This can manifest in various ways such as impostor syndrome, anxiety, and lack of assertiveness. As Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, said in her TED Talk on 'Teaching girls how to be brave, not perfect', "We're raising our girls to be perfect, and we are raising our boys to be brave... we're not teaching our girls to be brave".
Another impact of gender discrimination is the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, which limit women's choices and opportunities. From an early age girls are forced to follow narrow definitions of femininity, which dictate that they should be nurturing, emotional, and passive. This can discourage young girls from pursuing careers in male-dominated fields or participating in activities that are deemed masculine. As Chimamanda Ngozi-Adiche, Nigerian author and feminist, preached in her TED talk on 'The danger of a single story': "The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story."
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story | TED on YouTube
Career paths and gender pay gap
Many established organisational structures are built on the foundation designed to fit men’s lifestyles from the times when they were the only household provider and women only made up a very small percent of the workforce. For example, many career-boosting international opportunities often assume the addition of a “trailing spouse” who has no career and can easily move - a family situation most common for men rather than women.
Studies show that many institutions often undervalue or fail to recognise entirely the behind-the-scenes work that women often do, such as building a team or avoiding a crisis, while simultaneously awarding the achievements and success of men’s “heroic” acts. Therefore, while these patterns were not built to specifically discriminate towards women, their combined effect often puts female workers at a disadvantage and creates a vicious cycle of biases that men are better fit to be leaders.
On average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In the UK, among full-time employees, the gender pay gap in April 2019 was 9%, in 2021 7.7%, and 8.3% in 2022. Higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the genders.
How to prevent gender bias, stereotyping and discrimination?
Preventing stereotypes towards women and girls can be challenging, but there are still several ways to avoid this as soon as possible, which will be also beneficial for females considerably, since according to Harvard Business School, there is official proof that gender stereotypes harshly destroy a women's self-confidence and what kind of severe consequences that females can face due to offensive gender stereotypes. Consequently, there are numerous solutions to how it can be stopped, for instance how people can minimise gender stereotypes in the workplace. Companies can do 3 actions towards it based on Vantage Circle, such as:
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The SaGG Foundation (Sponsor a Gambian Girl) is a girl’s education movement, with aim of championing the cause for girl child education in The Gambia. Education is a basic human right; our vision is to advocate and champion for girls' education.