In order to build a strong and coherent society, there is a need to give every individual the necessary freedom to be able to produce in his or her highest ability. This can be achieved by putting every individual in a suitable and deserved position in the society. Both men and women are the essence of the human societies.
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Margret Mowczko, Writer and advocate for women state, Women in the ancient Roman world, especially in Athens, were founding cities, engaged mercenaries, and command armies (Mowczko 4). However, throughout history, societies in most times failed to give women the positions they deserved; women were always marginalized, so women’s roles in society were considered of low importance compared to men’s.
According to Cynthia Connolly and Naomi Rogers not long ago the wisdom was saying that men were doctors and women were nurses (Connolly and Naomi Rogers 45). Beside their great and necessary roles in the society, pregnancy and taking care of children, they had other roles, like some of their obligations towards their husbands and parents. History shows how young the girls were getting married. The society didn’t have higher expectations for women. Therefore, the achievements that were done by women didn’t get the enough attention. In the history, there were great women that the history was forced to remember because of their high intelligence and ability to influence people around them, like Cleopatra, who became a pharaoh of great Egypt, Shajar al-Durr “who ruled Egypt successfully, and the Queen Bilqis, who was the king of Sheba “one of the oldest civilizations in the history. Bilqis was the only heir of the ruler of Sheba, but people didn’t accept her role because she was a woman. Thus, when people discovered her magnificent ability in ruling they were forced to accept her, and she became a famous figure in the history after she married King Solomon. The influence of the stereotypes associated with women can be grasped from the story of the Queen Bilqis.
Therefore, stereotypes always played a big role in the status of women in the societies. In today workplace, women are suffering from gender bias. Women are considered to be less ambitious than men. Yale University researches in 2012 found that women were considered less competent, and they were paid less in University jobs (Aragon and Ashbaugh). Moreover, women are not advancing the way men are advancing, but they always face a point where they find themselves unable to surpass. Adding to that, there are lots of sexual harassment cases occur against women. There are a lot of reports come out of women who are mistreated by their managers. It is important to make a research about the transformation of the stereotypes of the ancient times to the modern world. In the poor and developing countries, most of the old stereotypes associated with women still existed. And they are a major reason why women are not having the position they deserve and sometimes it a reason women rights are eliminated. For example, there are 12 years old girls who are getting married, so they don’t live as teenagers at all. The old Stereotypes associated with women in the workplace have a major role in undermining women today in the different fields. University text books contribute in transforming the old stereotypes associating with women to today’s student’s. In the STEM field the stereotypes associating with women have a noticeable effect in their performance. Further, knowing the sources of these stereotypes and their affection on women today can be helpful to find potential solutions.
The negative stereotypes associating with women, which are a legacy from the past, are reason why women are suffering in the workplace. Some of the old stereotypes associated with women in the workplace remained in today’s workplace. Women in the old times has a little participation in the workplace. Even in their homes, women were ceased to participate in building their own families. Some women didn’t choose who they marry because they were getting married in childhood. Pregnancy was always a big problem associated with them in the workplace. Likewise, beauty and sex were highly linked with women, but not men. Women were a tool to fulfil men’s sexual desires. Further, sometimes women were accused to be a causer of problems. According to Rosalind Chait Barnet, a psychologist, Women in the past were suffering in the workplace. Women had to choose between the children or the workplace. In 1900, 40% of the workforce were women, but 5% of them were married (Barnett 669). Women today still suffering from the legacy of the past. In poor countries, most of these old stereotypes remained in the society and they influence women’s lives barely in a daily basis. In India, not long ago, when a man died, his wife should die too, so the innocent wife with the dead husband were burned together. Even in USA, some of these old stereotypes remained. In many ads, it’s targeted to put appealing women as a tool for a higher influence in men. This tells how the old stereotypes of sex and women still exists in the modern societies.
Some woman in the workplace today hold high positions. However, men are superior in terms of taking the higher positions. There are successful women who are in the top of some fundamental institutions in USA. For example, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is woman, Gina Cheri Haspel. Also, there are a lot of great female scientists and professors in the different fields. However, USA never has a female president. Also, the founders and the owners of the great US companies, like General Electric, IBM, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, are males. On the other hand, women are more likely to work as Model than men. Thus, women in these big companies are minority and this is open the way for women to be undermined. Sheila S. Hemami and Marjolein Van der Muelen, Computer Engineers, state that one of the myths known in workplace is, Everybody knows the stars in the field, and there aren’t any women (Hemami & Van der Muelen).
The current stereotypes of women in workplace came from the old ones, at least most of them, and some of them developed with the development of the civilization. In terms of sexual stereotypes, There are a lot of female models and ad makers. Also, women take positions that associate with hosting and provide Leisure services, like flight attendants. Also, it is important to mention that in some places prostitution is legal. These prostitutes are fulfilling men’s sexual desires. This means that sexual stereotypes and roles are highly associated with women. Alena Kanabova, Senior Manager in Accenture Technology, mentions the story of her sister who was fired because she was planning to have the second child (Kanabova). However, because of the development of the human civilization the stereotypes associating with women in the workplace changed to positive ones. For example, many companies make it easier for women to have pregnancy leaves, and lots of technology companies are trying to find the most suitable culture for both women and men in the workplace.
Schools’ and universities’ text books help to shape stereotypes that threat women in the workplace. In school textbooks, the male bodies are almost the standard. For example, if there is a picture that shows the phases of the growth of human head, the picture will most likely include a male kid or adult. That if the image deals with the both sexes, but if two images deal with each sex, then the male image is most likely to be the first. Further, the image deals with a scientific experiment would include a male, but if the image is dealing with the human body, like dyed hair, it would include a female. Even in the legends, the gods are the ones for the war and wisdom, like Ares (the god of the war), but goddess are the ones for the peace and agriculture, like Ceres (the goddess of agriculture). Additionally, in the textbooks the stone age pictured people are more likely to be males. Therefore, in the textbooks men are represented superior to women, and these are the materials that are shaping students’ stereotypes about women. In some textbooks, men are more likely to represented as adults and have muscular bodies than women.
On the other hand, women are represented to be emotional and unhealthy. In the schools’ textbooks, women remained highly associated with the reproduction role. Rhiannon Parker, specializes in the sociology of health and illness, Theresa Larkin, a professor in the CSU since 1986, and with the Department of Theatre and Dance at Cal State LA since 1989, where she is a tenured full professor in the Department of Theatre, and Jon Cockburn, gained his PhD from the University of South Australia on the mid-twentieth century efficiency movement and its impact on the representation of women in film, visual communications and cultural politics, conducted a study in the images from 17 medical textbooks, so they examined these images whether they are gendered biased or not. Their findings support what I said above. They found out that males are more likely to be represented. Moreover, they found out that women are more likely to be represented in sex-specified images. Also, women are more likely to be represented as toned an unhealthy. Therefore, women are highly associated with reproduction role. On the other hand, men are more likely to be represented in the traditional roles than women, and they are more likely to have muscular healthy bodies. Men are pictured not to be emotional, but neutral; in contrast, women are represented to be happy (Parker, Larkin, and Cockburn 109). The findings of the study are useful to see the role the textbooks play in transforming the old stereotypes in today’s workplace. Students are the future of the workplace, so they enter the field carrying the negative stereotypes that they’ve got from the textbooks, and this lead to biased culture in workplace. This biased culture will discourage women to take leadership positions. Additionally, these gained stereotypes, from the textbooks, will strain the relationship between male doctors and female patients (Parker, Larkin, and Cockburn 111).
The gender stereotypes associated with women in STEM fields have a negative effect in the performance of women. There are a lot of women graduating in STEM fields, so they have the required qualifications to be an employee. However, we see today a higher percentage of men over women in the STEM fields. When female students they find a negative gender stereotypes that shape a wall where the new female students stop progressing. One of the stereotype that women may find is that men are progressing higher and faster than women because they have a better agency and they are more ambitious than women. This stereotype will impact women performance negatively, even if she was able to join the company, because it will be an obsession that affect its decisions and she will be stressed. Another gender stereotype that can be awful for women in the STEM fields is that the lack of leadership abilities of women compared to men’s. Men are known to have dominance, assertiveness, and confidence, and these are important skills for leadership. In contrast, it is known that women miss these leadership skills, mentioned in the previous sentence, but they are emotional and empathetic. It may be true that women are somehow empathetic, but this adjective shouldn’t be the barrier that prevent women from being a successful leader. Therefore, women are forced to imitate men, and not to use their other abilities that are not desirable in leadership; so, women have less ability to succeed in leadership positions compared to men.
Furthermore, the gender stereotypes affect the students in schools and universities negatively. In the activities in which the gender stereotypes are involved, female students’ performance is influenced defectively. Jenessa R. Shapiro and Amy M. Williams, both are psychologists, conducted a study in high school female students, and they found that female students did 33% worse after they were asked to report their gender (Shapiro & Williams 176). In the study, the gender stereotypes were activated in female students’ minds after they were asked to report their gender. In addition, the gender stereotypes become noticeable in teamwork. Male students are more likely to take the leadership roles than female students. Further, Carolin Schuster and Sarah E. Martiny conducted a study on female college and high school female students. They found that female students chose a major when positive stereotypes were stated about that major and vice versa. Also, the researchers found that the lower the female representation in a university department the lower female students getting in (Schuster & E. Martiny 40).
In today’s society the intelligence is a fixed ability. This stereotype is negatively affects women because there is another stereotype that is women have less innate genius than men. This is not always true. This stereotype reflects on what the today’s society thinks about the IQ tests, the higher the person gets in the IQ test the more intelligent he is. However, the one who discovered the theory of relativity and changed the face of physics forever was Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein didn’t get the highest possible score in the IQ, he got 160. Christopher Langan got 195 points in the same test, but there is no way to compare between the achievements of the two. Thus, the innate genius can’t predict how productive a person will be. Dustin B. Thoman, Paul H. White, and Niwako Yamawaki, social psychologists, conducted a study based on the general stereotype, which is intelligence is a fixed ability that can’t be acquired through working hard. The purpose was to study the threat of the contents of the general stereotype, mentioned in the previous sentence, in women in Mathematics. The research included three groups: the ability, the control, and the effort groups. In the ability group, the stereotype that is intelligence is fixed ability will be involved. In the effort group, the stereotype will be that the intelligence is acquired through making effort. They found that the ability and control groups did worse than the effort group (Thoman, White, Yamawaki 708). In the ability group the threat of the stereotype was obvious, but in the control group, where no explicit stereotype was involved, the girls still did worse than the effort group. This finding leads to a conclusion that the gender stereotypes are implicit. On the other hand, in the effort group girls did better than the remained two groups even though the girls in the effort group solved less problems. Thus, the content of the stereotype was very effective in girls’ results.
The understanding of the contents of the stereotypes that threat women in the workplace helps to build a better culture that suits both men and women. The negative stereotypes about women in workplace can be overcome. Some of today’s negative stereotypes about women are a legacy from past generations. However, a lot of old stereotypes are no longer exist in the society, so there is a hope to remove the remained negative legacy of the old stereotypes. As the civilization develops the status of women in the workplace improves. Thus. in the past the women role was exclusive in home, but today women are counterparts of men in the different fields. The examples of the successful women encourage women take a higher role in a field; thus, there should be a focus in the past successful women as examples for the new women coming in. A good solution for the gender stereotypes is to present the gender differences in a positive way, so it shouldn’t appear like it’s a weakness women have; for example, the empathy that some women in workplace shouldn’t be a reason for women not to be in a leadership positions. It should help female leaders to understand the employees in a better way, and help to make convenient decisions about each employee. Therefore, addressing gender differences positively help to create a competitive culture where men and women work together. Moreover, there is a successful intervention to overcome the gender stereotypes which is Self-affirmation. Self-affirmation involves reflecting in the important aspects of a person’s life away from the stereotypic threat domain. Marx and Roman (2002) found that women performed better than men in a challenging exam after they found out that a woman had created the exam (Shapiro & Williams 178). Further, having female role models in STEM fields encourages young women to pursuit the same field and progress faster in them.
To sum up, some of the legacy of stereotypes from the ancient times remained in the workplace, and it played a noticeable role in undermining women in the workplace. The schools’ and universities’ textbooks contributed in transforming the old stereotypes in today’s workplace. Then these stereotypes are a reason why women are low in STEM fields. The stereotypes that associated with men in the ancient times were that men were more brilliant compared to women, while men were having the leading jobs like doctors, women were more likely to be taking nurses positions. Thus, women were always associated with her domestic and reproduction roles. These old stereotypes associating with both men and women transformed to today’s workplace, and the textbooks that students deal with contributed in the transformation. In the textbooks, men were always represented to be superior to women. Further, women were more likely to be represented in images illustrating human body parts. Moreover, the gender stereotypes associated with women in the STEM field has a negative effect on them. Women are not known to be intelligent compared to men because intelligence is a fixed ability, and women predicted not to have innate genius like men. In addition, the study of the effects of the contents of stereotypes in the society can yield a helpful result that help to design a convenient work culture that include both men and women. Self-affirmation and Role model methods are proven to be successful to reduce the threat of the gender stereotypes in the workplace. Thus, stereotypes can do great injustice, on the other hand, denying their core truths can also have destructive effects.
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