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花旗国的半边天

An Exploration of Women's Issues

 
 
 

日志

 
 

The Trap of Stereotypes  

2011-05-06 11:29:55|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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The Trap of Stereotypes - 美国马尾妹 - 花旗国的半边天
 过去,美国女性频频被降格为纯粹的居家小人物,如母亲,妻子或家庭主妇。人们觉得妇女特别适合担当此类角色,并普遍认为这是因为女人生性慈悲,富有母爱,换句话说,是天生的照料者。相反,男人被认为生性果断,更适合成为一家之长和财政支柱。今天,人们已经普遍摒弃性别角色这一陈旧观念。虽然有一部分美国女人仍担任全职主妇,但大部分都已外出工作,为家庭支出的作部分甚至全部贡献。然而尽管女人已经大致挣脱传统性别角色的束缚,她们深受伴随其中的对于女人本性的成见折磨。这些社会成见认为女性过于感情用事,优柔寡断,不能充当好领袖,以此在女人追求商业成就或政治理想的过程中,对她们造成伤害。

In the past, women in America were constantly relegated to purely domestic roles, such as mother, wife, and housekeeper. Women were considered to be particularly suited to these roles because widely accepted stereotypes held that women were by nature compassionate and nurturing– in other words, natural caregivers. In contrast, men were considered to be naturally more assertive and thus better suited to act as the “head of the house” and the financial provider. Today, it is generally accepted that these prescribed gender roles are a thing of the past. Though some American women are still stay-at-home mothers, many work outside of the home to either help or exclusively provide for their families. However, although women have largely escaped the confinement of traditional gender roles, they are still plagued by the stereotypes of female nature that accompanied these roles. These stereotypes hurt women attempting to succeed in the business and political world by creating the expectation that women are too emotional and unassertive to be good leaders.

According to a MSNBC news report, forty-one percent of American men and thirty-three percent of American women believe that men are more likely than women to be good leaders. The reasons cited by participants, namely that women are more emotional and less decisive than men, clearly reveal the continuing prominence of gender stereotypes. Because of these widely-held misconceptions, women always must prove themselves in ways that their male coworkers need not because the traits associated with good leadership are also traditionally associated with masculinity. In their effort to demonstrate that they are assertive and capable of being good leaders, women face a peculiar difficulty: in breaking one stereotype, they are confronted with another. Successful women who assert themselves are often labeled by coworkers as domineering and catty. In order to be successful, women must constantly seek the perfect balance between these two stereotypes when presenting themselves; they cannot seem too gentle or compassionate so that they will not be seen as weak leaders, yet at the same time, they cannot be too assertive so that they are not seen as monster bosses. This anxiety that women are forced to feel about how assertive they should be is clearly unjustly deserved, but it is difficult to see how this anxiety can be alleviated. This particular aspect of the bias against women in business is not the result of a specific or intentional discrimination, but rather the product of long-standing cultural convictions.

It seems to me that the first step in subverting the negative influence of these stereotypes is for women to be more supportive of each other and to have more faith in themselves. Of the statistics I came across, I found the fact that thirty-three percent of women believe men to be better leaders to be the most alarming. It demonstrates that women have been so influenced by these stereotypes that they believe them about themselves and their fellow women. However, it is promising that the other 67% of American women and 59% of American men, the majority in both cases, realize that women can be just as effective leaders as men. The study found that men and women who had actually worked under a female boss were usually part of this majority, suggesting that people are actually a lot more open-minded about women's leadership when given the opportunity of actually interacting with women leaders. This fact seems to provide some hope that the negative power of stereotypes could eventually disappear if people remain open-minded toward women's leadership and if women do not buy into the negative stereotypes about their own sex.


讨论:还有其他基于性别差异的成见影响着女性的生活吗?如何影响? (Discussion Question: How else might gender-based stereotypes affect women?)


Sources:

Tahmincioglu, Eve. "Men rule — at least in workplace attitudes ." MSNBC News 8 Mar. 2007: n. pag.

     MSNBC. Web. 5 May 2011. <http://msnbc.com>. 
Image:
By Areyn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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