Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gender bias in education and workplace

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1. Roadblocks to gender and reacial equality in Education Settings and the Workplace

Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations. (Sadker, 14) The socialization of gender within our schools assures that girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys. Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. When an administrator ignores an act of sexual harassment, he or she is allowing the degradation of girls. When different behaviors are tolerated for boys than for girls because boys will be boys, schools are perpetuating the oppression of females. There is some evidence that girls are becoming more academically successful than boys, however examination of the classroom shows that girls and boys continue to be socialized in ways that work against gender equity. Teachers socialize girls towards a feminine ideal. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important, and learn that educational performance and ability are not as important. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important. Assertive behavior from girls is often seen as disruptive and may be viewed more negatively by adults. A permissive attitude towards sexual harassment is another way in which schools reinforce the socialization of girls as inferior.

Beyond teacher responses, special services in education appear to be applied more liberally to boys than to girls. Research shows that boys are referred for testing for gifted programs twice as often as girls, which may be because, ...giftedness is seen as aberrant, and girls strive to conform. (Orenstein, 14) Gender differentiation that starts in elementary school keeps getting worse throughout high school, college, medical/law school to the workplace.

We can see examples of gender differentiation from some articles in the book, Reconstructing Gender A multicultural Anthology. Gender Bias in education field and the workplace can be seen in the article ‘Black and Female Reflections on Graduate School’ by Bell Hooks when a white professor tells a black woman on her face that the “English department does not hire Negroes or women!” Even though this statements seems very racist and gender biased, I don’t remember having any African American women for my English class. Just like Carole Gregory, a majority of black students who are scared and traumatized of having white professors and working partners because of their racist attitudes.

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Gender differentiation can be seen at its greatest in the work environment. Even though the working women pool has increased, the ratio of men in higher position to women in higher positions has remained almost negligible. There are only a few people who make it up the professional ladder. As described in the article, Sex Differences in moving and taking charge by Barbara Reskin and Irene Padavic, women’s success in the work environment is attributed to them being beautiful, white and heterosexual. One woman manager in the same article describes this situation well when she says, “My generation came out of graduate school 15 or 0 years ago. The men are now in line to run major corporations. The women are not. Period” (Fierman 10)

I do not want to sound racist by stating women only as the victims of gender differentiation, but that is the case most of the time. Minority men are also victims of gender differentiation in the workplace. This concept can be exemplified by analyzing the article Why are there no Male Asian Anchormen on TV? by Ben Fong-Torres. This article describes the shortage of Asian anchormen on television. Helen Chang, a communications major at UC Berkeley states that “it is an executive decision based on a perception of an Asian image. On an executive decision level, the image of the Asian woman is acceptable.” The underlying statement being that the image of the Asian woman is unacceptable.

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