Graphic design of the biological female sex symbol

Gender in the Workplace: Biology’s Role in Promoting Traditional Gender Stereotypes

Gender in the Workplace: Biology’s Role in Promoting Traditional Gender Stereotypes

The specter of traditional gender stereotypes often shows up disguised as unique  "female biological skills," which restrict women's authority and mastery in the  workplace. 

Data shows that women score higher levels of agreeableness than men — meaning that women statistically are perceived as being more amiable or trusting. For many  people, such as leader in clinical psychology Jordan Peterson, there is a reasonable explanation: "agreeable people are self-sacrificing, and, as a woman, you need to be wired to be self-sacrificing or you won't be able to tolerate taking care of infants." If women have a higher tendency of being agreeable than men because of biological  reasons, there is nothing more women can do about it than adjusting to their nature. The problem when we account for differences between men and women is that  biological characteristics often come as unchangeable features in a person. Are we accounting for situational factors? A short time ago, most workplaces were male dominated. For female employees, straightforward opinions meant a hazard. Women resourced more than men to agreeable behaviors, such as acting kind, cooperative,  warm, and considerate, as the result of surviving a systematic patriarchal dynamic. 

At the end of the day, Peterson’s lecture on this valuable piece of data won't cut it. We fail to associate behaviors as the result of cultural, historical, and situational factors. Instead, society crosses a dangerous line and attributes them to the nature of being a woman. 

How many times have you wondered why women behave in a way that is  stereotypically different than men? After pondering that question, more often than  not, you are met by this vague and unclear answer: “women’s brains are wired  differently than men’s,” or “women are social creatures and men are physical.” Sure,  they are. Although, we often find it difficult to explain why and where it applies. 

In the mystic confusion of what it means to be social or physical and how our minds are  different, we get lost in translation. We begin to see biological tendencies in places  where there are none, and prejudice quickly becomes a stereotype threat. 

Professor of Neuroscience Lise Eliot wrote, “I woke one morning in 2010 to see...Dr.  Jennifer Ashton declared that men have ‘six-and-a-half times more grey matter’ than women, whereas women have ‘ten times as much white matter’ as men. Next came the  obvious quips about men’s talent at mathematics and women’s uncanny ability to multitask.” This is a classic illustration of how vague biological distinctions can be  weaponized against women and condition us in the professional field. If you declare that  men are more competent at math because of natural tendencies beyond our control, you ground a socialized stereotype threat for women into the work field. On top of that,  isn’t multitasking a necessity for taking care of children? Dr. Eliot enlightened us saying that “never mind that these differences would demand that women’s heads were about  50% larger.” 

Psychologist Hyde conducted a study in 2005 where findings showed “that males and  females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological  variables.” Nevertheless, the workplace has a hard time accounting for our similar  cognitive abilities. In a 2018 study, Natasha Quadlin sent 2,106 applications to  arbitrary job openings while manipulating the gender of the candidates with fake  resumes of recent graduates — all possessing high GPAs. The findings revealed that in  STEM positions, men were three times more likely to be called back. 

In our way of owning our talents and goals, women have to overthrow a social  gender stereotypes narrative culturally installed. 

We need to account for biological differences between genders and proceed to stop  them from conditioning women's skills and natural capabilities. When Jordan Peterson  attributes that women seek to be more likable than men because of natural tendencies,  he immortalizes a social prejudice against females in STEM or business fields that is  very much alive.

So, how do lay gender stereotypes to rest in professional spaces? 

We can combat the psychological effects of stereotype threat in our academic or  professional environment with different strategies and techniques: 

1. Self-affirmation: Remind yourself that you are individually unique in your  characteristics, skills, and strengths.


2. Role models: Find relatable role models or mentors to guide you in professional  fields if you have a hard time feeling related to your peers. 

3. Find community: Take off your shoulders the weight of being the only  representative of a group. Find communities, such as The Women’s Network,  where you can surround yourself with a diverse group of individuals. 

4. Remember the common difficulties: In the presence of a stereotype threat, we  might attribute common challenges to ourselves, making it even more difficult to  see how the stereotype threatens all. Remember, that there are difficulties that  are shared among other women. 

5. Growth mindset: This is, of course, easier said than done. However, contrary to  popular belief, skills and intelligence are not fixed. They are changeable and  growing traits. 

SOURCES: Record%3A-Gender-and-AcademicQuadlin/b83c42a302519339be39a6fe34114aa6fc9b6067