Gender stereotypes. Research on gender stereotypes
The behavior stereotype is a double-edged thing. It determines not only the expectations of others, but also corrects the behavior of the subject directly. Not to stand out, not to fall out of the general norm, to be as it should be, to be right - an incentive strong enough to play the role imposed by society throughout life, and eventually even forget that this is not a mask, but a face.
The problem of gender stereotypes in society
Now gender stereotypes are usually referred to in connection with gender discrimination. And this is pretty bad, because it creates a misconception about the problem. The trouble with stereotypes is not that they create a misconception about women, thereby providing a basis for discrimination.
The problem is much more extensive. Such well-established ideas equally distort the opinion of both women and men, driving people into the narrow confines of norms and rules, imposing a certain course of action on them.A soft, sensitive man will surely face a large share of negativity precisely because his behavior differs from that prescribed. But for some reason nobody considers this discrimination.
Male roles, female roles
Gender stereotypes exist as much as humankind exists. Surely they changed: it was unlikely at the time of the matriarchy that the ideas about the role of men and women in society were the same.
And even now, some ethnic groups living quite isolated, genuinely surprised, when they are told that gender determines not only physical strength, but also character and a way of thinking. A clear gender separation of roles is the prerogative of large social groups that can afford it. And if every spear, every sword is counted, if you need working hands, whoever they belong to — whether a man, a woman — doesn’t have any prejudices.
But this is the exception rather than the rule. Our culture has inherited the traditional separation of masculine and feminine, the strict division into soft and hard, active and passive, yin and yang.
More philosophers of ancient Greece wrote about the differences between men and women, giving them diametrically opposed features.A man is strong, active, sensible, logical, domineering, a woman is weak, passive, emotional, prone to impulses, submissive. And these ideas about the psychology of the sexes turned out to be surprisingly stable. Centuries passed, one state system followed another, traditions and rules, etiquette and religion changed. But gender stereotypes remained unshakable, like rocks.
Even now, when no one is surprised either by the right of a woman to work or her right to elect and be elected, the traditional formula “Man - head, woman - neck” is still in operation. And there is more harm than good.
Stereotypes in action
For the first time, the problem of gender stereotypes became interested in the 70s of the last century. Then scientists wondered how true that which seems to everyone an obvious fact is true. Why is everyone sure that this is the case? Is it the result of an objective state of affairs or just prejudice?
The first studies of gender stereotypes revealed a curious pattern.As a result of surveys, it turned out that men are a priori considered to be more competent and professional, their success was due to a high level of knowledge and good preparation, and career growth was assessed as a natural consequence of such advantages.At the same time, women, according to the respondents, either achieved success by chance, or specifically sought to occupy a higher level in the social or professional hierarchy, making additional efforts to this end. This is how gender stereotypes manifested themselves. Examples of such perceptual distortions are numerous. During the experiment, observers were asked to evaluate the level of student training. With the same competence, the answers of men have always been rated higher than the answers of women, although in fact there was no difference.
Bias as a rule
However, this social phenomenon has a downside. The same experiment with a survey of students showed that if the respondents are equally incompetent, then observers tend to overestimate estimates for women, finding men compared to them less knowledgeable.
By presenting excessive demands to the strong sex, the society gives them a head start, but it is harder to judge for any mistake. This is the flip side of the coin. Saying that modern gender stereotypes infringe upon women, one cannot ignore the fact that they also infringe upon men.Simply bias is manifested in the assessment of other factors.
If a woman with a society can hardly forgive success, then a man will never be forgiven for failure. Social stereotypes require that the young man triumph after victory, in any other case he will be recognized as a failure.
Stereotypes in terms of ethology
The most unusual thing in this situation is that both a man and a woman really see the world differently. These differences are not cardinal, but they are. In any species, the behavior of males and females varies. Moreover, these differences are not at all where they are supposed to find stereotypes. Examples of this are numerous. Let's say the legendary testosterone aggressiveness of males. With regard to homo sapiens, this is precisely what justifies men’s inclination to violence.
In fact, intraspecific battles are more indicative, their purpose is only to attract the attention of the female, and not to destroy the enemy. This is the same demonstration, as to the current in black grouses or ritual dances in cranes. Otherwise, the males will simply kill each other - and the population will become extinct.
The fight for leadership looks very different.Here everything is determined not so much by physical strength and aggressiveness, as by intellect and willpower. Healthy, angry and stupid - not the best qualities for a leader. This is particularly well illustrated by the example of populations, whose survival directly depends on joint coordinated actions. Dogs, wolves, widely known meerkats. And in such populations, the female leader is not uncommon. But what is natural in nature, gender stereotypes indignantly reject.
Actors and roles
There is a paradox. Justifying established behavioral patterns, people refer to natural inclinations, while not paying attention to the fact that in their original form, such instincts are realized quite differently. Gender stereotypes in society suggest that, by default, the moderator is a man, and the slave is a woman, without linking leadership issues with mental abilities. At the same time, in nature, it depends entirely on personal characteristics and nothing more. The most intelligent, the most energetic and the most decisive will govern, because it is better for the population. And the gender of a leader is a fact of little importance and not interesting to anyone.Unless, of course, this is not about a herd of cows - so there is no special need for intelligence.
The causes of stereotypes
Why did gender social stereotypes arise? There are many theories on this subject.As reasons, scientists called social factors, both economic and historical. The most common theory says that as business processes become more complex, the brute force, which men themselves possessed, became increasingly important. If in primitive society the functions performed by both sexes were equally important, then during the transition to sedentary and cultural farming, it was men who began to perform an active function.
Construction work and farming required the application of considerable force. The same was true of military conflicts that took on an organized form, ceasing to be just a clash of two nomadic tribes.
In support of this theory, it is said that at the end of the 20th century, when production automation leveled the importance of physical strength, gender stereotypes in modern society underwent revisions.
Man: myth and reality
If the scientists adhering to this version are right, gender segregation at that stage of development was fully justified. More chances of survival for the tribe in which there are more strong combat-ready men.And it is absolutely logical that these qualities were cultivated, implanted in the course of education. Stereotypes about men are familiar to all. A strong, confident, active, prudent, innate fighter and leader, breadwinner of the family.
The qualities are obviously good. A person with all these virtues is just a cross between Clark Kent, Albert Einstein and Alexander the Great. There is hardly anyone who would not want to become so perfect. The trouble is that a real man rarely meets specified standards. And, trying to reach the ideal, acquires neurosis, gastritis and chronic depression. Can not cope with the role of the breadwinner? Jonah. Physically undeveloped? Jonah. Can't make a career? Of course, again, a loser!
From childhood, a boy is taught to keep emotions to himself, not to cry and not to complain. And then it turns out that the only way to cope with strong emotions for a man is alcohol. All the others are banned.A real man does not cry in a vest, he drinks and solves his own problems. Such a stereotype of behavior can hardly be considered constructive.
What is expected from a woman
The same applies to women. The image of a “good girl” is also not bad in itself. Friendly, non-conflict, sociable, sympathetic. Caring mother and wife, hardworking hostess. Surely in reality, such a woman will make the most favorable impression on others, and this will be absolutely fair. Career aspirations are, of course, good, but they do not distinguish a good person from a bad one. If a girl feels just like that, if she is easy and comfortable within the framework of these ideas - well, that means she was lucky. Her inner sense of self and stereotypes about women will not conflict.
Problems arise when the girl does not meet the specified standards. In this case, objectively good, useful qualities - assertiveness, activity, decisiveness - are suppressed and perceived exclusively in a negative way.
Stereotypes - the cause of bias
It is this duality of interpretations and assessments that serves as the main destructive factor.The formation of stereotypes suggests that the same behavior is evaluated differently depending on who performs the action, a man or a woman.
Crying girl? She is just very vulnerable and sensitive. Crying guy? Squishy and weak. The girl argues and defends his opinion, not agreeing to a compromise? Serious stinker. Does the same guy? He is simply self-confident and determined.
A rating system based not on objective criteria, but on subjective ideas about the correctness of the behavior of a person, cannot be correct. And, therefore, the effectiveness of social interaction is reduced. People do not do what they can do well, but what they think is right, even if it is an order of magnitude worse.
About power and not only
Why do stereotypes, if they are so ineffective, still exist?One of the most important factors is the distribution of power. To be a man is to be a leader by definition. Neither mind nor power is needed. You can achieve nothing in this life. Anyway, the man automatically takes the leading position in relation to the woman. It is on this principle that gender stereotypes are built in the family, and not only there. The best boss is a man. The best employee is a man. The best organizer is a man.To break this stereotype, to abandon it for a man who, in reality, does not possess such qualities, is to recognize himself as a failure.
At the same time, great responsibility falls on men, regardless of whether they are ready for it or not. A person who does not want to be a leader, who prefers the position of a slave, gets the reins in his hands and must rule. It is unlikely that he will cope with this well. And for sure he will feel very, very uncomfortable. It would be much more logical if the roles in society were distributed according to personal characteristics, and not according to gender.
But while stereotypes rule the world, the situation is unlikely to change for the better.