23
Feb 17

Organizational Power and Conflict

Organizational Power and Conflict
Today, clear majority of individuals are on a constant struggle to achieve more, when it comes to work. Social status is usually measured by the individual’s occupation, thus there is always a constant need to achieve a higher and more powerful position within one’s organization. One of the biggest issues in larger organizations, is the need to have more power than the next individual and this can lead to several workplace conflicts. Organizations are virtual minefields when it comes to interpersonal relations. It is often the case that people who do not know each other, are not compatible, or who do not even like each other are thrown together in organizations and expected to work together harmoniously and productively (Nelson A., 2017). I believe that if the need to compete between colleagues was taken out from an organization and replaced with the need to achieve more as a team, the organization would be a lot more successful and the employees would be able to enjoy their job and workplace environment.
However, at the center of these organizations, lies the issue and need for power. What is power? Power is the ability to influence other people to do what you want them to do. One might think having power is good and ideal, however power can be an issue specially when it comes to issues of difficult colleagues (Nelson A., 2017). Power changes people and those who rise to the tops of companies and other organizations tend to prioritize their own goals and desires above those of others. These individuals fail to take other people’s perspectives into account, tend to disregard other people’s feelings and are, less polite. When these individuals position within that company is threatened, they act aggressively to preserve their position of power (Greer L., 2014).
Per McClelland’s need theory, people have three needs in the workplace. First is the need for achievement, second is the need for affiliation and finally the need for power. When it comes to larger organizations, the need for power comes first in the workplace, followed by the need to achieve more and last the need for affiliation. However, in smaller organizations the need to achieve more comes first, since individuals usually tend to work together to achieve the same goal. The need for power comes second within the smaller organizations and finally the need for affiliations comes last (Nelson A., 2017).

Conflict in a workplace and the need for power in an organization almost always go hand in hand. It is always good to avoid conflict in a workplace. With conflict comes other unnecessary issues that can have a negative effect on the quality and efficiency of work itself. We might ask ourselves what are some ways that we can avoid a workplace conflict? While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies on how one can deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely grow into resentment, create withdrawal and cause infighting within the organization. The root of most conflicts is either born out of poor communication or inability to control one’s emotions (Myatt M., 2012). Some of the ways that one can avoid conflict in a workplace is by effective communication. Chances are everyone can do a little bit better to avoid stepping on each other toes if there are no misunderstandings and miscommunications amongst coworkers and the management. Sometimes one cannot avoid conflict at all cost and that’s when it’s better to hit conflict head-on and deal with it rather than avoiding it and causing it to escalate into a bigger issue. One other effective way to resolve conflict is by keeping in mind the other persons point of view and their objective. If we all can achieve what we need to achieve then there should be no need for conflict. In other words, happy colleagues and workplace, means a happier you. However, we cannot always control the actions of others in a workplace, and we can always do our best to the right thing.
In conclusion, our society characterizes individuals social class by what they do for a living. This can cause a major power struggle to achieve a higher position within ones’ organization or workplace. Depending on the type of organization one is working for, the McClelland’s three need theories are prioritized differently for bigger and smaller organizations. In the larger organizations, the need for power comes first followed by the need for achievement and finally the need for affiliations. However, in a smaller organization the need to achieve comes first followed by the need for power and finally the need for affiliation, last. The characterization of McClelland’s need theory determines ones’ priority within his or her workplace. We must understand that with the need for power almost always there is conflict involved. Even though there are ways for colleagues to avoid conflict to their best of ability, there still will be some conflict. The best thing to always remember is, if we all can achieve what we need to achieve, then there should be no need for conflict. Happy colleagues and workplace, means a happier you.
References
Greer, L. (2014). Stanford Graduate School of Business., (2014, January 16). How Power Struggles Escalate. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from www.gsb.stanford.edu
Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 7. Applied social psychology: Organizational Life and Teams. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.
Myatt, M. (2012). Forbes Leadership., (2012, February 22). 5 keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from www.forbes.com


22
Feb 17

Power in Organizations

Power in Organizations

Power is the ability to make things happen according to one’s perspective by getting someone else to do it for you. It is mainly beneficial in organizations where the managers assign tasks to different employees and make them do those tasks. It is their role to guide on what employees should do to achieve organizational success. Power aids in providing a sense of direction towards the organizational goals.

In organizations, there are various sources of power. However, the primary source of power is the legitimate power, which means the power assigned based on job designation. It is allocated according to the rank level within the organization (Kotter, 2008). Officers in the higher level such as management are perceived to have power over junior employees. Besides, other sources of power are relevant in an organization. Experts in a certain field have enough knowledge on that area giving them power over employees lacking such knowledge.

Power is responsible for ensuring employee commitment and compliance in the organization. It aids in avoiding resistance among employees ensuring they coexist in harmony, which leads to increased productivity. Even though managers are perceived to have power, they also need to work on leadership, which is an essential element in organizational power. They need to empower fellow employees by making useful decisions that help them and their work.

Empowerment allows employees to maximize their potential, which leads to more experience and job satisfaction.

However, employees need the training to enable them to expand their horizons. It is done through delegation. Delegation is the distributing power from the top manager to organizational employees granting them the authority to make important organizational decisions (Millard, 2002). It reduces the lag time in making influential decisions that affect the normal functioning of the organization. It increases the organizational response time and makes employees comfortable to raise issues and contribute. It results in overall job satisfaction in the organization.

References

Kotter, J. (2008). Power, success, and organizational effectiveness. Organizational Dynamics6(3), 27-40. doi:10.1016/90-2616(78)946-3

Millard, C. (2002). Being the boss: The importance of leadership & power. Organizational Dynamics21(2), 73-75. doi:10.1016/00-2616(92)966-v


22
Feb 17

Lesson 06: Diversity/Intergroup Relations

As we have entered the 21st century, it seems as though the world is becoming smaller day by day. The introduction of computer and the increasing accessibility to technology even in third world countries has made it much easier to interact with people on the other side of the world. As interaction with people from different cultures who hold different ideologies become increasingly common, it is important for us to understand what diversity means and how intergroup relations can be improved. Specifically, how concepts such as prejudice and discrimination can be understood using the social identity theory and social dominance theory.

Prejudice and discrimination exist as a result of one of the survival methods for our ancestors. In the past, prejudice and discrimination allowed the “outsiders” to be identified in order for our ancestors to prevent diseases and ensure the future of one’s genetic material. Prejudice is defined as opinions about a certain group of people that may or may not be justified. Even though prejudice can be positive, in the case of celebrities for example, it becomes dangerous when it is in its negative form. Negative prejudice can lead to people making assumptions about a person based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. An example of negative prejudice would be all Americans are lazy. While prejudice may be hidden if the person does not express those prejudiced opinions, while discrimination is the behavior which involves acting on one’s prejudice. These can include, not hiring someone based on their religion, not providing service for someone based on their race, etc.

While prejudice and discrimination may have ensured our ancestors’ survival, the diverse characteristics of our society make these behavior a cause of conflict and injustice. A recent example of discriminatory behavior occurred in New Mexico. The convenience store owner in a small town of MayHill clearly held prejudiced opinions of Muslims, believing that all Muslims are terrorists. It is clear that he decided to act on these opinions and participate in discriminatory behavior by putting up the sign “Obama and Other Muslims Not Welcome Here.” This discriminatory behavior is a clear example of injustice being served against Muslims, who may now have to travel for a much longer period of time in order to reach a convenience store. This discriminatory act may have worsened the conflict that may have existed within the community of MayHill (Burrows, 2017).

Now the question that comes to mind is, why did the MayHill convenience store owner choose to discriminate in the first place? One explanation could be described by the social identity theory. According to this theory, people behave differently depending on the situation. The key factor, as it relates to discrimination and prejudice, is that a person’s behavior may be motivated by their social identity when placed in a group situation rather than their personal identity. An in-group is a group in which a person feels comfortable in and is a part of while all other groups that a person feels threatened who may serve as competition for resources belong in the out-group. The convenience store owner saw Muslims as a threat to not only his peaceful life in the small town but their existence in the country meant competition for his small business. By being placed in the social situation of either choosing his in-group of non-Muslims versus the out-group of Muslims, he chose to protect the interests of his in-group.

Another important question that must be answered in the case of MayHill convenience store discrimination is why did the store owner choose to discriminate against Muslims? According to the social dominance theory, people are compelled to protect their in-group at all times (as compared to the social identity theory which states that people will only protect their in-group under certain situations). People also feel obliged to maintain societal hierarchies, and any attempt of a group trying to move up the hierarchy results in conflict. Since 9/11, Muslims have faced a large amount of discrimination in America. In the past few years, Muslims have been trying to move up the hierarchy and protect their own in-group through formation of groups such as Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many groups feel threatened by this attempt to move up the hierarchy and it has been seen as a source of competition for other groups. This has resulted in an increase in conflict between Muslims and other groups within the United States. In an attempt to keep Muslims in the lower hierarchy, President Trump, for example, recently released a statement stating that America will prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim refugees (Burke, 2017). So, it is not surprising that the MayHill convenience store owner is participating in discriminatory behavior in order to protect his in-group. The convenience store owner is a classic example of a person being affected by the social dominance theory since prior to putting up the sign against Muslims, he had placed a sign supporting the KKK (Burrows, 2017). As a result, he is consistently attempting to protect his in-group of White-Christian-Americans from any other group in the United States.

As shown in the example of MayHill convenience store, discrimination and prejudice need to be actively dealt with in order to allow for equality, justice, and peace within our communities. The social dominance theory and social identity theories can prove to be valuable ideas that can help explain discriminatory behavior, while helping for us to find ways to reduce conflict among various groups in our society.

References:

Burke, D. (2017, January 30). Trump says US will prioritize Christian refugees. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/trump-christian-refugees/

Burrows , T. (2017, January 02). ‘Obama and other Muslims not welcome here’: Convenience store sparks outrage with racist ‘welcome’ sign . Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4081650/Obama-Muslims-not-welcome-Convenience-store-sparks-outrage-racist-welcome-sign.html

Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 6. Applied Social Psychology: Intergroup Relations/Diversity. PSYCH 424 Course Content Site Lecture. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1834710/modules/items/21736674


20
Feb 17

Lesson 7: Working With Others

Why is it important to get along with your coworkers? Well because whether you like it or not you have to deal with them for a prolonged period of time. I have worked with different people all my adult life some nice some not so much. But like Switzerland during WW2 I try to be neutral (Garner,2016). In my work my position falls in the administrative branch so I have been the mediator of several heated discussions. What I use to try and determine who has the most accurate information is social perception. Social perception is when you try to understand or make sense of people (Schneider et al,2013). When I went to work more often I dealt with a lot of misunderstanding not so much now but that’s because I work from home now. Let me give you an example of why it is important to get along with others.

My company hired a new receptionist a few years back at first this young women was very friendly and made friends quickly including myself. At that point in our company everyone seemed happy to be there. A red flag went up when the friendliest person I have ever met began to have concerns about the new employee. She was the other receptionist in the front, I listened to her and said ill keep an eye out and see what’s going on. I let my office manager know the concerns the other receptionist had however my manager said she feels like that because she pregnant she’s hormonal. I didn’t know how to respond so I said, “okay ill just see what the others think”. After a month I noticed the employees acting different towards one another. At different times when they visited me to drop of paper work I told them what’s going on why is everyone acting strange.At first they denied that anything was wrong so I let it be. However a few days later I noticed all the employees performance were sub-par to what they usually are. According to the consequences of job satisfactions the lack commitment and job avoidance I believed that the employees were dissatisfied with there current work (Schneider et al,2013).

Once again I sat down with my employees and asked them what’s wrong and every story had something similar. Which was the new receptionist she has been spreading rumors about everyone even the owner of the company has been told things about employees that were untrue. I brought it up to my manager however we couldn’t say anything about it to the owner as we found out that the receptionist started dating the owner’s son. Therefore we were left in a strange position. Eventually the employees found out what was happening and weren’t too happy about it. Communication is very important in any organization whether big or small and all the employees communicated with each other and figured who was causing the issues. Eventually all the employees began isolating the receptionist not letting her in to their conversations or inviting her to lunch. I didn’t condone this behavior but I also couldn’t force them to communicate with her during their free time. In a way my employees followed the communication model in Applied Social Psychology: Psychology to Organizations. What I mean by this is that the group was sending this receptionist a message however it wasn’t a verbal message it was nonverbal. By the employees isolating the receptionist they were demonstrating there discontent with the actions she instigated. Eventually the receptionist quite and everything went back to normal. Productivity was high as well as for the moral in the office. That’s why it’s important to get along with your coworkers because the job is hard enough and to feel alone and isolated I believe it would make the job even harder. Although I didn’t agree with how the employees resolved their issue with the new receptionist at least they did it together and as a team.

Garner, Tom.(2016). Switzerland in World War II, History of War. Retrieved from https://www.historyanswers.co.uk/history-of-war/switzerland-in-world-war-ii-the-hypocrisy-and-bloodshed-behind-armed-neutrality/

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M.(2013). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems,Psychology To Organizations.(pp.229-243).epub


20
Feb 17

Gender, 2017 Edition

Gender and what it mean has become a concept so blurred within American society in particular. There are so many different terms and meanings behind what gender really means as a whole in 2017. According to Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2012), “The term sex refers to the biological distinction of being male or female, whereas the term gender refers to the social or learned characteristics that are associated with being male or female” (pg. 331). However, gender now takes on many different forms now. ABC News now identifies 58, yes 58, different genders options for users to choose from on the social media platform Facebook (Goldman, 2017).

It seems that anymore people are no longer comfortable identifying themselves as strictly male or female, regardless of their anatomy. Sex is primarily the means of social categorization for an individual (Schneider et al., 2012).

Luckily, I have never had to become involved in a situation where I wouldn’t know when to call someone he, she, or they as the pronoun that they want to identify with. It is a confusing idea to wrap my head around. To put this into perspective, these are the 58 different gender options that Facebook identifies that vary from agender, androgynous, cis, gender variant, intersex, non-binary, other, transgender, and two-spirit and these are to only name a few (Goldman, 2017).

National Geographic featured the first transgender individual on the cover of their magazine in the January 2017 edition regarding gender. Avery Jackson is a nine year old girl representing the face of transgender today. Although Avery was born a boy, she has identified as a female since the age of five (Goldberg, 2016). Her ability to be comfortable in her own skin has opened the door for many other individuals to be happy with who they are and how they are. If you read the comments available on the National Geographic page for the article, you can see an outcry from the public that their lack of understanding or ability to try is still pouring out into society today.

This also brings up not only the issue of gender identification itself, but that there is still a large divide among males and females today in many parts of the world. Nasreen Sheikh is also a nine year old female with a story to share in the issue. She dreams of becoming a doctor, however, she lives in an impoverished area of Mumbai. In this particular area, boys are the dominant gender. They are allowed to go to school and have nicer things. Goldberg (2016) states, “In many places girls are uniquely at risk. At risk of being pulled out of school or doused with acid if they dare to attend. At risk of genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual assault” ().

For coming so far within society today, why are the seemingly little things like gender still such a large and confusing issue today?

 

References:

Goldberg, S. (2016). Why we put a transgender girl on the cover of national geographic. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/editors-note-gender/

Goldman, R. (2017). Here’s a list of 58 gender options for Facebook users. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/02/heres-a-list-of-58-gender-options-for-facebook-users/

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


20
Feb 17

Microaggression in Our Daily Life

The United States still remains segregated yet blatant racism does not appear to be common these days. As discussed by Schneider and his colleagues, there are different forms of racism – aversive, symbolic, and ambivalent – that better articulate the complex concept of racism (2012). I am sure many individuals in marginalized groups agree that racism has not been eradicated as the racism is manifested in subtle bias and discrimination against those who are in the marginalized groups. Such form is called microaggression.

Microaggression is defined as “subtle forms of bias and discrimination” against those who are in marginalized groups (Ong & Burrow, 2017). They can be manifested in both verbal and nonverbal forms whether intentional or unintentional. For example, many Asian American females both U.S. born and foreign born experiences come across microaggression against their ethnicities and gender in a form of microinsult. One woman reported that she and her friends who were also Asian Americans who were accompanied by their White spouses were called “those whores” by drunken soldiers (Iwasaki et al., 2016). Another incident reported by a Black student shows an example of ascription of intelligence when he tried to explain in the class, a White girl interjected, “well, what he means is…” assuming he was not intelligent enough to speak for himself in the class (Sue et al, 2009).

Former President Obama once said in his speech that he was followed when he was shopping in a store, heard the doors of cars locked as he was walking by, and a woman showed extremely nervousness as he got on an elevator with him (Obama, 2013). Those are examples of nonverbal microaggressions. It is disturbing to learn that those behaviors are often automatic that express “put-downs” of individuals in marginalized groups (Pierce et al., 1977). What if Obama were White, would he receive those unfair treatments? He would have on a much lesser degree only because of his gender especially when he was on an elevator with one female, but not as severe as most Black men would.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine shared the above link to a YouTube video that shows a brief but awkward conversation between an Asian female and a White man. I found it amusing only because I could relate to the situation in the video as a member of a marginalized group. In my case, I was and still am asked what my nationality is. Of course, I am always glad to answer that I am American which does not satisfy their intent of the question. They would rephrase their question in many different ways such as shown in the video. When I reveal my ethnicity, of course as if it is written in a manual book, they try to relate to my ethnic culture.

I must say, based on my personal experiences, that members of marginalized groups are in difficult positions. If they refute to microaggressive comments or behaviors, they are perceived to be sensitive or over-reactive. On the other hand, if they remain silent, they send off messages that those behaviors are socially acceptable. As for me, I am still in search of fitting reactions to disparate treatments as every incident is different and unique. Each time such incidents occur, I try my best not let the situations affect me negatively but wonder when I will be treated for who I am in this so called melting pot. I cannot negate the pervasive feeling of being an alien in my domain whenever I am asked “Where are you from?”.

 

References

Iwasaki, M., Thai, C. J., & Lyons, H. Z. (2016). Perceptions of societal microaggressions in Japanese American women married to White American men. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 5(3), 180-196. doi:10.1037/cfp0000065

Obama, B. H. (2013). Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/19/remarks-president-trayvon-martin

Ong, A. D., & Burrow, A. L. (2017). Microaggressions and Daily Experience. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(1), 173-175. doi:10.1177/1745691616664505

Pierce, C. M., Carew, J. V., Pierce-Gonzalez, D., & Wills, D. (1977). An Experiment in Racism: TV Commercials. Education and Urban Society, 10(1), 61-87. doi:10.1177/001312457701000105

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

Sue, D. W., Bucceri, J., Lin, A. I., Nadal, K. L., & Torino, G. C. (2009). Racial microaggressions and the Asian American experience. Asian American Journal of Psychology, S(1), 88-101. doi:10.1037/1948-1985.s.1.88

Where Are You From (2013, May 31). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from https://youtu.be/crAv5ttax2I


20
Feb 17

Where do prejudice behaviors come from, and what are the consequences?

We begin to learn of the atrocities committed by mankind to other fellow humans, as schoolchildren. When I was in fourth grade, I learned that a horrendous man rose to power in Germany during World War II, and killed millions of innocent civilians. As my teacher explained the very basics of the Holocaust, I saw my classmates eyes widen with disbelief. “How could anyone be so evil?” I thought. In middle school, I learned of the United States history on slavery. I did not understand how even one individual could have the capacity to enslave, beat, and torture another human, let alone garner the support of these actions from the majority of a nation. These are just two examples in our recent history of how prejudice behaviors have led to severe consequences.

Physical oppression, including murder, genocide, and enslavement are parts of history that no one should be proud of. These specific types of oppression are especially atrocious, but oppression can come in many different forms. Denying an individual rights that other individuals possess, through an unfair authority of power is a simple definition of oppression. The female suffrage movement, African-American civil rights movement, and LGBTQ rights are recent examples of movements in response to oppressed groups that experienced, and in some cases still experience inequality. Even today women experience income inequality, African-Americans are still victims of racial discrimination, and the LGBTQ community continues to fight for basic rights. Oppression usually stems from prejudice ideals that support the notion that one group, race, gender, etc. is better than another. This type of thinking is obviously very problematic.

Consequences of prejudice go beyond how it affects the targeted group as a whole. Each individual has their own unique experiences in regard to being the victim of prejudice. Social psychologists realize this, and have shifted a lot of attention on how prejudice acts affect the well-being of the person being targeted. Victims of prejudice may report feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed. Anytime there are multitudes of people that are experiencing distressing symptoms, action must be taken in an effort to decrease those symptoms.

Another consequence of prejudice behavior is stereotype threat. Stereotype threat occurs when someone feels fearful or nervous that their behavior will worsen a negative stereotype held towards a particular group they belong to. Their concern with trying to avoid confirming a stereotype becomes a distraction, therefore increasing the likelihood that the target’s performance will be affected (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Our text gives the example of a woman taking a math exam. She is under the impression that women are not expected to do well in math, causing her to feel nervous about the exam. Since she is going into this exam with the mindset that she will not do as well because she is a woman and since she is experiencing anxiety, she is not likely to perform as well as she could have if this stereotype did not exist.

So, where these prejudice behaviors come from? Social psychologists have worked to study this particular question, because understanding prejudice behavior is critical in decreasing it. There is a tendency for individuals to mistakenly believe that two things are related if they are seen occurring together (Jones, 1997). This process leads to the creating of stereotypes. Stereotypes attempt to predict the behavior and characteristics of a certain group. Failing to resolve the formation of negative and inaccurate stereotypes becomes dangerous, because it is completely impractical to generalize an entire group of people. Making associations is how we learn, but we will assimilate new information to our existing schemas. We will even accommodate new information by changing our schemas, if the schema no longer makes sense. Stereotyping is largely due to a lack of assimilation and accommodation of new information. Stereotypes can also be developed through the environment an individual is exposed to.

Personally, the best way to decrease prejudice would be to understand that many stereotypes do not hold consistent accuracy. Individuals that develop negative stereotypes about certain groups, should seek examples that defy their previous beliefs. Prejudice behavior, which stems from stereotypical ideals, has been shown to bring on a number of unfavorable consequences. Our goal as a diverse species should be to reduce this behavior in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.

References

Jones, J.M. (1997). Prejudice and racism (2nd ed.). New York. McGraw-Hill.

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

 


18
Feb 17

Unity in Diversity: A Habit for Humanity in Paraguay

If I told you that a group of 13 people from very different places, all with completely different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and values were able to work together seamlessly, communicate effectively, and develop lasting friendships all in nine days, would you believe me? No? Well, neither would I. However, vacationing with a purpose with the organization Habitat for Humanity, a special group of 13 people to include myself did just that. More often than not, when people think of diversity, they concern themselves with the challenges it brings. But, as Maya Angelou once said “….in diversity there is beauty and there is strength” (n.d.).

This group consisted of nine women and four men, all of which departed from different points of the world. The different points of departure were as follows: Canada, China, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Washington, and Chicago. With everyone departing from different parts of the world, arrivals to Asuncion, Paraguay were between Thursday and Saturday. The Saturday evening once the entire team had arrived we had a meet and greet dinner at a local restaurant. Informal introductions were done amongst each other and discourse began right away as we walked from the hotel to the restaurant. Everyone trying to get to know each other with general questions, probing questions, and simple conversation. In getting to the restaurant we realized our Spanish skills weren’t as great as we thought since the restaurant personnel spoke solely Spanish. However, we had one teammate that spoke Spanish really well, as it was her first language. She gladly helped us with our orders and we proceeded with the evening. The following day after a brief from the Habitat for Humanity coordinators we had a dinner to get to know the HFH personnel, as we would also be working with them. At this point, we were sharing stories with each other, joking, laughing, etc.

Monday we finally began the projects we came there for and that was building two houses for two separate teams. The team leader split the group into two teams because the houses were at different locations. Upon receiving our tasks, we dug straight into work….literally; we actually had to dig up the perimeter of the house, as well as a septic tank and cesspool. Throughout the week, we got more and more comfortable with each other while working our tails off. Some of told jokes, sang, danced, told stories, we all allowed each other to be ourselves and feel comfortable doing so. We all had different strengths and weaknesses so we pushed each other and acknowledged the differences by working in a manner that complimented the differences to make it work. Being a Marine I am slightly competitive in nature, therefore, before the projects began on the first day I initiated a little competition insinuating that the team I was on would finish faster. At the end of every workday, each team would compare their progress all in fun and games because we all enjoyed the work and each other’s company regardless of how far we got. Eventually, we named the teams “Team Fun” and “Team Work”, my team being “Team Fun” because we sang, danced, and laughed so much throughout the workday. We even had a made up cement dance, for when we were making cement.

In the end, we realized that even with all our similarities and differences, one thing we do share is our passion to help and desire to uplift and encourage other people. Our group functioned so well because we brought different strengths and talents to the project, we were the definition of functional diversity. As noted by Coutts, Gruman, and Schneider, “functional diversity enhances group effectiveness even further…” (2012).

Our group brought diversity on many different levels, gender, age, race, culture, etc. Every single person brought something unique to the group as we’ve all had completely different life experiences, that brought different insight to fulfilling tasks. For example, one teammate spoke fluent Spanish, which helped us tremendously. A lot of the teammates were into their 40’s, therefore, having plenty of experiences, some even with construction, helped.  I think we made such a great team because we allowed each other to feel comfortable in our differences. In the end, though it had only been a week, we were sad to see each other go.

I got this tattoo when I returned from Paraguay. The symbol is an Adinkra symbol, which is a part of the West African culture, namely Ghana, where my ancestors were from. The symbol means, ‘Unity in Diversity’. I got it because of the strong positive impact each person had on me and because I thought it was absolutely amazing how we all brought something unique to the table but made it all work as a team. The F at the bottom and top represent “Fuego Familia”, which was an inside joke to the team.

 

 

References:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


18
Feb 17

She could and she did.

Photo Credit: Konstantin Yuganov/Dollar Photo Club

Once upon a time there was a little girl and she decided she wanted to do all she could to benefit the world. So she did. This is a future of happiness I hope to share with my daughter, mother, friends, and you. It seems like a rather simple concept. Gender defines part of who we are in our community. However, there are so many layers to this and so many theories. For example, did you know that everyone discriminates as a process in their thoughts starting at first glance? The social identity theory helps to describe this, discrimination (which is mostly a negative connotation) contributes substantially to how the little girl will experience her world (being part of an in-group or considered not belonging because she is part of the out-group), and social dominance helps to define and dictate her future; but most importantly this little girl has a bright future made by the efforts of so many organizations and advocates available today. Overall, it is important to understand the mechanics of our social interactions to help open new opportunities and teach this little girl a better way to define herself and achieve wonderful things.
When I first went to start to write this blog I had so many ideas on gender discrimination which is defined as “the unequal treatment of similarly situated individuals based on their sex” (Rolf, 2016). This would touch on the social identity theory that describes that part of an individual’s self-concept with regard to how they identify with other social groups both physically and emotionally (Nelson, 2017). But then I had the epiphany; what if for just a moment we attempted to consider the positive? Just because we are girls or identify as girls does not mean that we cannot do amazing things. In recent times, there has started a revolution of shift in power for females and what they are allowed to do. I say allowed because while women are different physically they are still capable of doing many of the same tasks, if not all, equal or better than men. For many years and still today women are not treated the same as men. Many people may disagree with this statement because they think so much “progress” has been made. This is true but that does not mean we are equal or that we should be dis-proportionally excluded or receive reduction in rewards like school acceptance, pay rate, and being passed over for a promotion (that got passed on to a man) just because of gender. I surely didn’t check the “female” box when I was being made and I surely doubt you had the choice either. This kinship or preference is a reflection of the social dominance theory which is a hierarchy that is and has been established (Nelson, 2017). This hierarchy gives those in the top tier unfair advantage and bias based on inclusion to the group- like men. Though we are shaking the trees and changing the landscape as to what girls can do!

So what is being done to help that little girl? Should we all tread lightly on the subject or divide on if feminism is warranted. No! The fact of the matter is that being a feminist does not mean you must hate men or prefer women. To me, it means that you see the good in females, the monumental contributions they can make, and you celebrate this aspect and help other females to succeed for the sake of success and benefiting the world. Not everyone has a voice to be proud or to try new things- especially young girls. It does not have to disadvantage boys, but only to give girls the equality that they deserve.

So let’s explore some amazing sources that are helping those around us today. Girltank.org shouts out “dare to change the world” (About Girltank.org, 2017).This online community helps female social entrepreneurs grow their ventures through storytelling, seed funding, solidarity, and more (Kennedy, 2016). Girlswhocode.com helps 10th and 11th grade girls to break into the tech world through a summer immersion program that uses project-based learning with top tech companies to help educate and promote women in this field (Girls Who Code, n.d.). So are you inspired to be a feminist yet? How about reevaluate the way you teach your daughter her personal identity (generally her self-concept and opinion of what she is and can be)? Well I am not done yet. Girl scouts has been around for a very long time, but did you know they do more than camp and sell cookies? Though let’s be honest for many of us that is one of the top ten wonderful things about them. Girl scouts inspires and teaches girls about STEM which is science, technology, engineering, and mechanics as well. This inspiration starts from the top of the pyramid all the way down to these young girls triumphing through education, kindness, and self confidence in our community. A shining example of the effect that the girl scouts provide can be shown with their very own interim CEO for Girl Scouts of the USA, Sylvia Acevedo. “A proud Girl Scout, engineer and rocket scientist, and passionate advocate for both girls and Girl Scouts, Sylvia Acevedo credits her Girl Scout experience with propelling her to success in the corporate and philanthropic sectors” (Meet Sylvia Acevedo, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, 2016). How powerful is that? A woman helping to run an organization solely on the mission to inspire and propel them! The buck doesn’t stop there either it extends to other realms. Companies like Goldieblox are making an impact early on just as Legos has done for years for little boys. “GoldieBlox is the award-winning children’s multimedia company disrupting the pink aisle in toy stores globally and challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character” (About Goldieblox, 2017) . If you haven’t played with them I guarantee that no matter your sex you will have fun and help a little girl with your purchase. Their website alone details the social dominance theory at work in today’s society with a simple informative fact. Total women engineers worldwide equal only 14% versus the 86% that are male (About Goldieblox, 2017). So yes there is a disparity but no we don’t have to be man haters to change it. We can help both boys and girls to work in conjunction to create a better world. The most important thing is we give these girls the boost they need to succeed early and consistently.

So break the mold, challenge the glass ceiling to be broken not raised, and help to positively affect the women and world around you. Gender discrimination is a real thing and is still happening, but it doesn’t have to be the end. Your social identity can affect the way you view the world so lets help this little girl to have a personal identity concept that is to be brave, smart, admired, and capable while kind. Gender bias just has to be the ugly monster that is defeated for this princess to have her happily ever after.Because who said girls have to slay dragons to conquer them? Not me. It is clear that this little girl is able to tame the monster and better the world.

Illustrator: Unknown.

Resources:
About Girltank.org. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://girltank.org/#
About GoldieBlox | Meet Debbie Sterling – GoldieBlox founder. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.goldieblox.com/pages/about
Girls Who Code — Join 40,000 Girls Who Code today! (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from https://girlswhocode.com/
Kennedy, A. (2016, April 22). 5 Orgs That Prove ‘Girl Power’ Is Not a Cliché. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.shimmerteen.com/5-organizations-that-prove-girl- power-is-not-a-cliche/
Meet Sylvia Acevedo, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. (2016, June 17). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://blog.girlscouts.org/2016/06/meet-sylvia-acevedo-interim- ceo-of-girl.html?m=1
Nelson, A. (n.d.) Penn State University Psych 424 Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations/Diversity. [Online Lesson Commentary]. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from Penn State World Campus Online Web site: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1834710/modules/items/21736671
Rolf, C. A. (2016). Sex discrimination. Salem Press Encyclopedia.


17
Feb 17

Gender Roles: Where Does the Pain Go?

This week we learned about diversity with respect to prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and even with regard to gender and sexism. While all issues and supporting theories hold incredible value, I would like to focus my attention on the differences of gender roles in society today, and what that really means for those who don’t align with what is expected of them.

As understood from our textbook, “gender refers to the social or learned characteristics that are associated with being male or female” (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). But what goes into creating those roles? As we have understood from previous psychology courses – culture, social class, religion, genetics, race, locality and, of course, personal feelings or beliefs. Regardless of how much effort and education is dedicated to try and bridge the gap between understood gender roles and honoring who we are and what we want without judgment, it seems that there will always be something left over that leaves a lasting impact.

I had a very small family growing up – just my mom, my dad, and me. Close to us were my dad’s siblings, one who is a gay male and who is a gay female. Though they are older now and grew up in the 1960’s, their different experiences of coming out and being judged, while being raised just two bedrooms apart, only showcase the divide in gender roles and expectations. I had asked both my aunt and uncle what it was like to come out at a time where equality for homosexuals was practically non-existent; not to my surprise, finding out that they both had similar feelings but were treated much differently. My aunt had come out before my uncle, and her experience was nerve-racking and vulnerable; however, she was greeted with a semi-quick acceptance and open arms from her family and friends. Though my grandparents were shocked, they both gave her nurturing advice and expressed that they will be there for her “no matter what.” However, when my uncle came out a few years later, the atmosphere and reactions he received were nothing like that of his sister’s. Though my grandma had mentioned she “knew he was gay from a young age,” it surely didn’t change the anxiousness and feelings of rejection looming that my uncle was facing in sitting both his mother and father down to tell them about a huge piece of who he was. My grandma was very supportive and glad that he had expressed himself; however, my grandpa, a very strict and traditional WWII pilot, had an extremely poor reaction to this news. He actually devised an “intervention” to try and change my uncle’s feelings, as well as continuing to be incredibly judgmental towards my uncle for the duration of his life. When I heard both stories of my aunt and uncle, though being gay is an extra variable and more than likely only exacerbates the situation, I started to think more about the common denominator of differentiating gender roles and how they impact the psyche.

In Latin American cultures, gender roles are ingrained into each individual at an early age. Women are known to be responsible for “la casa,” and men are known to be responsible for “la calle.” Women are “homemakers” with the sole duty of making sure the home is clean, organized and ready for the man to be able to enjoy his time. “The streets” are meant to symbolize open space for the man to do what he pleases, including drinking or infidelity. Present gender roles in Latin America create hierarchies, in that they give excessive respect and attention to the man on each level, without equal consideration for the woman (Knapp, Muller, & Quiros, 2009). In 2013, a Shanghai elementary school in China launched a “piloting program on gender education” because they felt there was a “decline in masculinity;” thus, forcing kindergarten girls to cook meals and boys to play with army figurines two times a week. This follows into adulthood and college, where at popular engineering institutions in China, classrooms are filled with men and other majors recommend women don’t apply because they are “unsuitable” for such futures (Florcruz, 2013).

These examples, though taken from only a few regions, showcase how gender roles are boundless in this world. Externally in the outside world, women have been incredibly disrespected and shortchanged, impacting them mentally and monetarily. Women have made incredible strides to maneuver themselves into positions that reflect respect, equality and fairness; though, there is still a massive ways to go. And what about that resentment and depleting self-worth from having to “maneuver” themselves in the first place? Where does that go? Putting aside the blatant sexism women have faced, what about that of young boys who want to play with dolls, wear pink, or not settle a dispute by feeling pressured to physically harm someone else? Or young women, who would prefer to play sports, work full-time as an engineer and wear blue? Once someone has felt shamed out of being who they are, especially over a period of time and done on a grand scale, serious mental implications can ensue and cause debilitating anxiety, stress and even depression. Suppressing who we are, what we want, and who we value ourselves to be is something that should never be done – let alone taught by those we inherently should respect and trust.

By different stigmas, cultures and societies attaching gender roles to ego, self-worth and levels of success, we are left with a dangerous outcome that opens the door to a whole mess of cognitive setbacks. As our book further describes, the hopelessness theory of depression can occur when there is “a vulnerable person and negative environmental circumstances.” Fears of being rejected or judged can cause social anxiety: “feeling tense and uptight when interacting” (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). These different side effects can essentially manifest into so many other problematic and extremely serious situations, such as OCD, eating disorders, persistent depressive symptoms, generalized anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so many others.

Fighting an uphill battle can be challenging, tiring and seem impossible, but the work done to minimize the gap in gender roles has been promising thus far. Women in Mexico are starting to work more, take care of themselves first, and do what suits them (Knapp, Muller, & Quiros, 2009). Chinese individuals still have a tremendous road in minimizing their gender roles; though, progress is being made with respect to certain circumstances. And my uncle went on to creating a group called GLIDE (Gay and Lesbians Initiating a Guide for Equality) to further promote acceptance and understanding, as well as giving extensive Ted Talks on issues he has faced.

So the pain did occur, and it did go somewhere. As it looks like, it hasn’t been completely terrible because strong voices and changes have come out of it. Though, are these negative impacts really worth the ruthless manipulation to gear someone into being who they are “expected” to be? That’s for you to decide. As far as I’ve seen, when one steps out of the many boxes drawn and understands the intentions of many powerful outlets, they can realize genuinely that no person or institution has the right to leverage or strip someone of who they admire themselves to be.

References

Florcruz, M. (2013, October 18). China’s Traditional Gender Roles Start Young. In www.ibtimes.com. Retrieved February 17, 2017.

Knapp, J., Muller, B., & Quiros, A. (2009). Women, Men, and the Changing Role of Gender in Immigration . In lationstudies.nd.edu. Retrieved February 17, 2017.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology (Second ed., pp. 325-333). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


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