30
Sep 18

The way diversity affects us

“Diversity brings about the opportunity to learn new perspectives and, in so doing, to increase creativity and innovativeness for both individuals and groups” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). While I agree with that statement, I have to point out that diversity can obviously also lead to things such as prejudice, discrimination, and some conflict. We are all different based on how we look, how we behave, our background, gender, and socioeconomic status. Diversity can affect us positively or negatively and that can depend on many different things. One example that I would like to use is my own background and experiences.

I was born in Bosnia and was three years old when my family moved to Germany in order to escape the Yugoslavian war in the early 90s. We spent nearly nine years in Germany and, since I was so young when we moved, I had no memory of Bosnia. Germany and that culture was all that I knew. At that time, there were all sorts of people living in my town who came from a different culture. We all managed to blend in with the Germans, while also maintaining our own traditions. Somehow it all worked, so we experienced little to no discrimination. The negative conflicts that happened came in the late 90s when a few local government officials decided that it was time for a few of the Bosnian families to leave Germany. We were on that list and were given a choice – either go back to Bosnia or move to the United States. We chose the United States because there was nothing left for us in Bosnia and a few family members had already moved to the USA at that time.

We faced negative conflict and discrimination when we moved to the United States and had to yet again learn a new language and learn about the new culture. Although our new home had a diverse group as well, it somehow included more negative conflict. When we moved here, I was finishing the seventh grade and barely spoke English. It gave the other kids a reason to bully me, which affected my self-esteem.  They believed that their group was superior and that I was the ‘lower class’, so to speak. Thinking back on it, it made my social and personal identity stand out. “Social identity theory suggests that it is the context within which individuals find themselves that determines which type of identity – personal or social – will predominate” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). I think that back then, the social identity dominated because the new environment that I found myself in evoked the sense of social identity. Now I would say the personal identity dominates more because I am more aware of myself and focus on that rather than the social group that I find myself in.

“Anywhere humans exist, diversity will exist” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). We need to find ways to minimize discrimination and find resolutions that can maximize positive outcomes because in the end it affects all of us and we all have the common goal of embracing our differences and living in peace.

 

 

References

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.


30
Sep 18

A Majority Girl Living in A Minority World


30
Sep 18

So Tell Us, Who Are You Wearing?

While sexism in the workplace is visible across the board, one place where it has been in the limelight is in the case of Hollywood actors. From how accomplished women are addressed, to opportunities they receive, and even their own personal safety—female actresses deal with sexism in many areas of the workplace.

One area where we see sexism take place is on the red carpet. Growing up, award season was always a big deal for my mom and I. We would watch every one—the Oscars, the Emmys, The Golden Globes, and the The Screen Actors Guild Awards. We would always tune in about two hours before the award show to watch the red carpet coverage. During this time, news outlets stand on the side of the carpet and interview celebrities as they enter the show. Even when I was young, I noticed the stark difference between the questions asked of men and the questions asked of women. Women were predominantly asked questions regarding their appearance at the event, such as “Who are you wearing?” (meaning who designed your dress and jewelry), and, “What inspired your look tonight”, followed by comments about how beautiful they looked. Men on the other hand, are usually professional questions such as how confident they are that they will win in the category of their nomination, and what inspired their performance in the film.  These variances come from something  called benevolent sexism. Benevolent sexism is defined as involving, “the attribution of typically positive traits or qualities, “ (Schneider 2012). While this may seem like a positive thing, benevolent sexism actually has negative effects. “The attributions associated with benevolent sexism, even though they sound positive, are derived from stereotypes that see women in limited ways and often stem from a male-centered perspective” (Schneider 2012).  So while the interviewers may seemingly be complimenting the female actors, the difference in how they question them actually represents sexism and underlying stereotypes because it puts women in the limited light of value based on appearance rather than value based on merit, like male actors.

Some sexism in Hollywood also takes more obvious forms, such as the opportunities allotted to women vs. men. Even though there has been some progress what roles are given to women representations are still problematic. “Female characters may no longer be tied to train-tracks and rescued by mustachioed heroes, but they still tend to be stereotyped and marginalized. Male actors do most of the talking; women are far likelier to take their clothes off” (The Economist 2016). In addition to less talking time on screen and sexual objectification, women are also less likely to be portrayed as an action hero. “Although women account for half of cinema-ticket sales in North America, for example, executives were so convinced that female-led action flicks were a turn-off that they hardly made any” (The Economist 2018). This denial of equal opportunities is a result of hostile sexism.  Hostile sexism can be defined as, “negative expressions or behaviors that reflect negative attitudes towards women” (Schneider 2012). So because negative attitudes about women’s abilities lead them to be given less quality roles, it is clear that women face hostile sexism in the workplace. Additionally, sexual misconduct in Hollywood suggest the existence of hostile sexism. The Times Up Movement has recently taken place in response to this problem, with many women in the industry coming forward with stories of being harnessed by male actors and directors.

With both of these forms of sexism coexisting, where women are praised for their beauty yet deprived of equal opportunity, Hollywood’s over all culture of sexism can be described as ambivalent. Ambivalent sexism is defined as when people hold both hostile and benevolent attitudes simultaneously (Schneider 2012). I have multiple suggestions for how this ambivalent sexism should be remedied. First of all, men and women should be addressed with the same questions as men when interviewed publicly on the red carpet. Secondly, leading female roles should be given as much verbal dialogue as their male counterparts. And finally, men in the industry should be held accountable for their sexual misconduct, and women who bring it to light should be believed rather than shamed. 

 

Sources

#MeToo, part two; Sexism in Hollywood.” The Economist, 3 Mar. 2018, p. 12(US). Global Issues in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A529405519/GIC?u=psucic&sid=GIC&xid=5738f9b8. Accessed 30 Sept. 2018.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


29
Sep 18

Are you from Africa?

Are you from Africa?

Imagine moving to a new a country where one of the first questions you get asked when you meet new people is Are you from Africa? To some this may not seem like a big deal, they want to know where you come from they’ve already marked you as something foreign before you’ve even opened your mouth, but why than could they not have simply asked, “Where are you from?”. But it is a big deal, because it usually proceeds actions like  Touching my hair without permission, or the weird looks I get when Germans try to speak a French to me (because it will make communicating with me easier), and I tell them their only options are English and German. And are also proceeded by statements, “Oh your English is so good.” Or “You must be from Ethiopia.” They are always so sure that they know where I originate from when because of Slavery and Colonialism I have no idea where my familial roots come from. It all eventually shapes itself into one of two stereotypes maybe both, I am either an oversexed African refugee woman who will do ANYTHING for money with old men or I am an oversexed African woman using a German only for their money and ability to stay in Germany.

And yet as soon as I say I am African-American, all that goes away (Except the part where I am clearly oversexed or maybe they think it’s undersexed, hard to conclude), and I feel as if my cultural identity is then taken away. I am only referred to I am only referred to as American, my roots are stripped away as if I cannot be someone with African roots and American. I am given a “white card” meaning I’m treated to smiling faces and suddenly a lack of suspicion, I now have a valid reason for being in Germany. My marriage to a German has more meaning, more importance, because it must be love now not money. I get to be apart of the in-group and not regulated to the out-group. Suddenly my residence card is ready in three months along with my work permit before I met all the language requirements, meanwhile I know others still waiting having entered the country over a year earlier than me. Until I leave the current representatives of the in-group and I must ask for my “white card” back from the next set of people belonging to the in-group.

Discrimination and Prejudice are everywhere and it takes many forms. It may not always be actions like suddenly your neighbors are disrespecting your spouse after two years of good relations. Sometimes it’s simply words that make you feel like an other or that you have no right to be there. Sometimes it feels like others have made decisions for you about who you are. And other times it’s being fast tracked for no reason in that for your nationality that makes you one of the good “Africans” and having to prove your worth to every new person. Being looked at a certain way that makes you doubt your own good intentions, your intelligence, or your cleanliness.

References:

Nelson, A. (2018). Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations/Diversity . Retrieved September 29, 2018, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942493/modules/items/25002507

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


27
Sep 18

Playground Conflict

Playground Conflict

At some point last year my afternoons became over run with the task of breaking up playground fights. Fights and arguments arose between children that I knew had been friends at some point, possibly even that same morning, but were now spewing hate at each other. Somewhere along the line the diversities that made one a unique valuable part of the group became intolerable traits that landed them on the outside. The similarities that sprouted friendships were disregarded and the differences were emphasized leading to unacceptance. Playground conflict, “a perceived incompatibility of interests” (Schneider, 2012).

At the primary age children’s self-concepts are still developing and evolving. According to social identity theory an individual’s self-knowledge is made up of both personal identity and social identity (Schneider, 2012). Personal identity is an individual’s perception of their personal qualities and characteristics (Schneider, 2012). Social identity is an individual’s perception of which social groups they belong to or identify with (Schneider, 2012). These self-concepts had created multiple in-group/out-group biases and conflict.

In an attempt to reduce some of the conflicts, I with the help of other staff members, set up different stations and projects that focused on various strengths and similarities. The main goal of this attempt was for the children to notice less of the differences between each other and focus on and be reminded of the positive qualities and interests that they shared. There were a few bumps in the road but it was relatively successful overall. Unfortunately, the effects eventually wore off or new differences were emphasized.

This year I have plans of being proactive. I have implemented all kinds of kindness projects, activities and events. I am also planning comparable events multiple times a year in an attempt to highlight the likeness between them and reduce the negative views of their differences. Hopefully, I can apply some of newly acquired knowledge to creating a more successful intervention plan.

 

References

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 


27
Sep 18

Diversity Coming To A City Near You

I like to think we live in an era where people are more open to new cultures and beliefs. In reality there are many areas in the US that lack diversity. It is the year 2018 we are living in a modern era, but individuals are still being discriminated. It bewilders me how people are still being classified as being part of the minority or majority group. This classification to me is useless and should not be eliminated.

Diversity is an on-going issue in the US this includes the workforce and communities. Many areas that lack diversity the struggle with discrimination and equality as well. In Cumberland County located in Southwest Pennsylvania there are many college towns and surprisingly 85% of the population is white. (Despite a lack of racial diversity, there are still issues of integration in America’s College Towns) It is said that the area is very conservative and have strong religious views. This brings to question are these factors related to other areas in the US that lack diversity?

There is some interesting data stating that “by 2055 the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.” (Cohn, D., & Caumont, A.2016 March 31) The US is growing, and more people are interacting despite their origin. What is happening is that the millennial’s are becoming the new adult generation. The millennial’s are 43% nonwhite and are the most divers generation in Americas history. It seems the old way of thinking is going away, and this will create better opportunities for everyone.

Studies show that 55% of Americans are “comfortable” with the US becoming more divers. (Diversity, Culture Remain Major Fault Lines in American Politics) America is a nation of immigrants there is not one race makes the Country. It is the combination of many ethnic backgrounds that make America great, we need to forget about what group we fall under. The classification of minority and majority is becoming a thing of the past. Whether you agree or not change is coming.

Cohn, D., & Caumont, A. (2016, March 31). 10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world. Retrieved September 27, 2018, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/03/31/10-demographic-trends-that-are-shaping-the-u-s-and-the-world/

Despite a lack of racial diversity, there are still issues of integration in America’s College Towns. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2018, from https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-11-03/despite-lack-racial-diversity-there-are-still-issues-integration-america-s

Diversity, Culture Remain Major Fault Lines in American Politics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2018, from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/diversity-culture-remain-major-fault-lines-american-politics-n799101

 


26
Sep 18

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. And that’s a good thing!

This week we learned how diversity can create both a positive and negative environment. We learned about prejudice and discrimination, conflict and conflict resolution. What I wanted to discuss in this week’s blog in particular is functional diversity. According to the text, functional diversity refers to the idea that “each person in a group brings different strengths and talents to the group process” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, p. 336 2012). Some examples of this might be individuals from lower/higher socioeconomic backgrounds, individualistic versus collectivist societies, or even just men and women. 

I found the experiment conducted by Schruijer and Mostert in 1997 very interesting because the results showed that “more creative solutions to problems emerged when groups were composed of both men and women…” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, p. 336 2012). I decided to research this idea on my own to see if I could find any reasons for this, other than men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  

I ended up finding an article written by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz (2014) describing four generalized brain differences in brain functioning. While I didn’t necessarily find merit in three of them for this particular blog, I did find the first difference interesting. According to the article, men use 7 times more gray brain matter for processing, and women use 10 times more white brain matter (Jantz, 2014, para. 2). Gray matter is more localized in the brain while white matter is more like a networking grid (Jantz, 2014, para. 3-4). What scientists believe is that the use of localized gray matter leads to a type of tunnel vision, and this is why men can get very focused and caught up in tasks ((Jantz, 2014, para. 3). The use of white matter, on the other hand, allows women to move from subject to subject and task to task more easily (Jantz, 2014, para. 3). 

These findings, and I’m sure many others, help to show why functional diversity could lead to greater creativity, and thus support diversity. If all groups were made up of only men or only women, some tasks may never get completed because we might move from one to another too quickly or because we NEVER changed tasks. While there are certainly less differences between men and women than people think, diversity is important in the respect that people of different genders, age groups, and cultures are going to be raised and taught differently and each of those people have the opportunity to bring a unique twist to groups. 

References: 

Jantz, G. L., Ph.D. (2014, February 27). Brain Differences Between Genders. Retrieved September 26, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders 

Schneider, F. W., Gruman J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE. 


26
Sep 18

Diversity Day

“Now, this is a simple acronym. HERO. Uh, at Diversity Today, we believe it is very easy to be a HERO. All you need are honesty, empathy, respect and open-mindedness,” said Mr. Brown, speaking to the employees at Dunder Mifflin on the television show, The Office (Diversity Day). For those of you who have not seen this TV show, it addresses many serious issues, such as intergroup relations and diversity. If you have seen this show and you’re rolling your eyes at me, please bear with me – I have a point. 

While it may seem ridiculous to use a comedic television show, that can be very offensive at times (read: most of the time), as my primary example of addressing diversity in the workplace, I think it is exactly the kind of example we need. On a surface level, The Office serves as comedic relief for most people, but when you stop to look at the issues it addresses, such as diversity, it actually sheds light on many issues within the workplace. If Michael Scott, the Regional Manager, was not so dramatic and ridiculous, many of these issues might be completely glazed over or not recognized as serious as they are in real life situations. It seems like today’s world needs to be shown very directly what goes wrong in order to recognize that an issue exists (See: #MeToo movement). 

In reading about Diversity Training (2012) in the textbook, I was reminded about the Diversity Day episode of The Office, in which Corporate mandates everyone go through diversity training during work hours. The text (2012) states that these trainings are “meant to foster interactions between members of different groups (cultures, classes, genders, sexual orientations, etc.) and encourage critical thinking about diversity and its influences.” I chose this particular topic because, as we’ve studied thus far, the nature of applied social psychology is more than just observing societal patterns and behavior – it’s about intervention. There is so much discrimination within the workplace and I think that these kinds of trainings are absolutely necessary to bring about enlightened change. 

The show does a great job of representing what a regular corporate office might look like in terms of majority and minority groups. A majority of the employees at Dunder Mifflin are White and heterosexual, but there is at least one gay man, as well as a Black man and an Indian woman. There are several theories that can be applied, but for the purposes of this week’s studies, you can clearly see both contact hypothesis and social dominance theory at work here. Michael Scott is infamous for his outrageous comments that can be very racist, sexist, etc., but on a deep level you can tell that he really cares about all of the people in the office (except Toby). Though it may outwardly appear otherwise, I think that having the experience of working with a (albeit, slightly) diverse group of people, Michael Scott’s actual, underlying prejudices and biases about other cultures and minority groups decrease over time, based on his direct contact with these people. 

Furthermore, though each employee does not always get along with each other all of the time, they do come together as a team when it counts, thus social dominance theory. Even though they are basically sworn mortal enemies, (in another episode) Dwight still manages to protect Jim and pepper spray someone who is about to attack him. Though this might, admittedly, be the only time Dwight does anything remotely nice for Jim, it is the underlying issue of the intergroup support that is the basis of social dominance theory at hand here. 

Television shows, like The Office, that have characters who display such obviously racist, prejudiced and sexist behavior, truly highlight the problems we have in America’s workplace, but also show the ways in which we can improve as a society. Mr. Brown’s idea of honesty, empathy, respect and open-mindedness would do a world of good. To quote Michael Scott: “You may look around and see two groups here: white collar and blue collar. But I don’t see it that way, and you know why? Because I am collar-blind.” 

(It’s okay if you just cringed – I cringed writing it.)

Resource:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.


25
Sep 18

Can Discrimination Negatively Affect Health?

In the United States, minorities have an increasingly disproportionate rate of diseases, injuries and premature death.  Discrimination has received national attention in regards to law enforcement and education, but can it affect public health, too? Discrimination is the unequal treatment or negative behavior towards an individual solely based on their membership to another group (Jones, 1997).

There are several ways that race can determine health.  Race normally determines living conditions and opportunities.  These opportunities (sometimes known as white privilege) are not automatically presented for many minority groups.  Lack of opportunity affects education, location, and employment.   Location also influences opportunity and convenience of reliable and quality healthcare.  Finally, many individuals may engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with some of the difficult circumstances that come with being part of a minority group.

Racism and discrimination have negative effects on mental health.  Some studies have found that discrimination not only adds to stress but can be a pathogen in itself (National Institute of Health, 2004).  This is not a new concept.  W.E.B. Du Bois (2003) wrote that “the Negro death rate and sickness are largely matters of condition and not due to racial traits and tendencies.”  Over the lifetime, discrimination and prejudice are internalized, becoming unhealthy for the mind and body.  Even for individuals that have not personally been discriminated against, they can become hyper aware for mistreatment, leading to chronic stress.  After last week’s blog report on stress and gut-wrenching anxiety, it’s no surprise that chronic stress in minority groups would contribute to poor health outcomes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has instituted several initiatives, with the goal of eliminating health disparity among ethnic minorities in the United States.  Public awareness campaigns continue to encourage people to care for loved ones and seek medical help when needed (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004).

 

 

 

References:

DuBois, W. E. B. (2003). The Health and Physique of the Negro American. American Journal of Public Health93(2), 272–276.

Jones JM. Prejudice and Racism. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1997.

National Institute of Health; Bulatao RA, Anderson NB, editors. (2004). Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life: A Research Agenda. National Academies Press 7, Prejudice and Discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK24680/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2004, August). Health Disparities Experienced by Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5333a1.htm

Williams DR, Neighbors HW, Jackson JS. Racial/ethnic discrimination and health: Findings from community studies. American Journal of Public Health. 2003;93


24
Sep 18

Inner Voices

As humans, it is natural to self-label. We are repeatedly labeled and evaluated by others and we tend to adopt others’ labels into our own self-concept. This is especially detrimental for individuals, who are trying to fit in or figuring out who they are. As a result of self-labeling, those individuals may come to experience internalized prejudice, which takes place when a person turns an unfavorable opinion directed towards them by others onto themselves. A major issue that may result from internalized prejudice are mental disorders.

Internalized prejudice may not only result from direct comments or opinions of oneself from others, but also from society’s standards and social media. For example, the LGBT community has a higher prevalence of mental disorders than heterosexuals. Social psychologist, llan Meyer describes this excess in prevalence of disorder in terms of minority stress, which explains how the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that they endure, creates a hostile and stressful social environment that leads to mental health problems (2007). These high levels of stress can be caused by expectations of rejection, the need to conceal and hide who they are from others and lack of support from their loved ones and community. Not only are these individuals experiencing general stressors, but also the added stressors that come along with minority stress, therefore they may require more of an adaption effort.

It is important to recognize our internalized prejudices about ourselves and work to combat them. This will help to steer away from negative self-concept and promote positive self-concept. People with a negative self-concept may be sensitive to criticism and feel as though others view them in a negative light, which can lead to self-esteem issues and even depression. When it comes to making inferences about individuals, through social categorization we must be careful not to show prejudice and to promote diversity in our own lives, which can also help to combat internalized prejudice.

Lastly, as a society we need to draw light to the issue of minority stress and offer adaption strategies to help individuals cope with the added stressors in their lives. For young adolescents experiencing these feelings, before and after-school counseling sessions would be beneficial. I also think there should be more access to therapy for people with or without health insurance to encourage people to talk to someone when they have no one else to confide in.

References:

Meyer, I.A. (2007, November 9). Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: Conceptual Issues and Research Evidence. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072932/


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