03
Oct 16

Gypsies

Diversity is quite an interesting concept. In essence, it is the formula that makes the human races unique. People have minds with the capacity to create various cultures that shape the core ways in which they think, behave and perceive the world. On the other hand, diversity has managed to become one of the greatest downfalls of mankind. It has caused various wars on religious beliefs, separation amongst people because of a lack on understanding and inequality because people are resilient to accept something other than the way they know it to be. One of the major areas we can see destruction of diversity is in the separation of the Roma gypsy population in various European metropolitan cities.

Continental Europe is roughly 3,997,929 square miles, composed of 27 different countries.[i] Each country has its own language, belief system, cuisine and worldview. Most major cities are melting pots, made up of people from every nation and culture. Normally, the inhabitants that flood these cities have moved to contribute something to the local society such as work, school, love and/or just mere pleasure.

However, amongst the immigrants living in cities such as Paris, France there is also the presence of those whom don’t contribute, such as Roma gypsy population. These people normally tend to live on the outskirts of the city, in poverty settings without substantial shelter or sanitation. Gypsies are known among Europeans to be thieves. They tend to migrate into cities and make their living by stealing from the general population. They organize themselves in a mafia or gang-like structure. There is a man at the head whom sends out women and children to beg on the streets and in touristic areas. They teach the children how to pick pocket at ages as young as 3 and 4 years old because they are immune from punishment until the age of 16. This is a major problem because it aids them in continuing to take form others what is not theirs without having to endure any type of penalty.

 

Additionally, the children brought up in gypsy communities are given no formal form of education. They do not attend schools in the country they reside nor are they taught to read and write in their mother tongue. Instead they are learning to beg, steal, and hate those whom oppose them. So, as this community continues to grow and take advantage of the system, the French continue to hate them back all the more.

For the French social system, the Romas are seen as a major issue. The French are resilient to have any form of compassion or understanding for these people. They want them out but the law won’t permit it; therefore, they’ve found their only resolve is to be passionately angry. They see them as a hopeless cause and even more so as an enemy. French resent the fact that they have to pay such high taxes to allow people such as gypsies to cheat their system and rob from them that they are not willing to fins any solution to help them. They are completely incapable of seeing a gypsy as anything other than the stereotype, even the children. As a result, the two communities continue to hate each other while remaining in the same house.

The great problem here is that when people are different they can put one another down. The French don’t see the gypsies as people worthy of helping and the gypsies don’t see the French as people worth respecting. Because the two are diverse, they can’t see eye to eye and therefore have yet been able to coexist togethe

[i] Rosenberg, Matt. “How Big Are the Continents?” About.com Education. About.com, 16 Jan. 2016. Web. 01 Oct. 2016. <http://geography.about.com/od/lists/a/largecontinent.htm>.

 

Image: Laccino, Ludovica. “Roma-only Bus Route in Montepellier: 5 Countries Where Romani People Suffer Discrimination.” International Business Times. International Business Times, 13 Apr. 2015. Web. <http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/roma-only-bus-route-montepellier-5-countries-where-romani-people-suffer-discrimination-1496193>.

 

 


28
Sep 16

The Jigsaw Classroom

One of the greatest advancements in teaching and most successful examples of applied social psychology originated in the 1970s with Elliot Aronson’s jigsaw classroom. Aronson’s intervention applied Gordon Allport’s (1954/1979) contact hypothesis, which posited that placing groups in a situation in which they must work together toward a common goal given a supportive environment and equivalent status and power, to the classroom. Yet all great ideas must start somewhere, and for Aronson, his began with a phone call.

By 1971, Aronson had become head of the University of Texas’ social psychology department, and a former student of his reached out to discuss something the professor had taught him years ago (Aronson, 2001). The student, who himself was now an assistant superintendent in the Austin school district, was encountering fights and riots between the black, white, and Hispanic students after desegregation (Aronson, 2001; Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2013). In response, Aronson (2001), with the help of some of his graduate students, developed an intervention inspired by Allport’s (1954/1979) contact hypothesis and Muzafer Sherif and colleague’s (1961) Robbers Cave Experiment (Aronson & Bridgeman, 1979; as cited in Kwantes, Bergeron, & Kaushal, 2012). This intervention would come to be known as the jigsaw classroom.

Jigsaw Classroom

(Jigsaw Classroom, 2016)

Students in a jigsaw classroom may not seem to be all that different on the surface. Like many classrooms, jigsaw students learn together in small groups of four to seven students (Blaney et al., 1977), although six is now a common figure (Aronson et al., 2013). Members are assigned to the group to represent a diverse mix of backgrounds, but what is truly different is that instead of learning from a teacher, jigsaw students learn from each other:  Each member is assigned the responsibility of learning one particular part of the lesson and teaching this part to the others (Blaney et al., 1977; Aronson & Bridgeman, 1979; Aronson et al., 2013). The students, then, are interdependent on each other to reach a common goal, and since each would not know the same information as the others did, their status was made equivalent, just like Allport’s (1954/1979) contact hypothesis would necessitate. In as little as one hour a day (Aronson, 2001), the jigsaw intervention can have wide-reaching implications within and outside the classroom.

These implications have been found and replicated many times over the years since Aronson’s first intervention. Within the group, students actually start to listen to, respect, and like one another (Blaney et al., 1977; Aronson et al., 2013). But the effects of the jigsaw classroom go far beyond intragroup relations. In addition to liking and respect their fellow group members more, students in jigsaw classrooms also show a remarkable decrease in prejudice and stereotyping, perform better on standardized tests, say they like school more, and have higher self-esteem than students in comparison to students in traditional classrooms (Blaney et al., 1977; Aronson et al., 2013). Minority students, in particular, tend to flourish after the jigsaw intervention (Blaney et al., 1977). This may be related to the negative stereotypes with which students from racial and ethnic minorities are often publicly regarded.

Given the remarkable effects of the jigsaw intervention, it is no surprise it is widely implemented. Aronson (2001) estimates that 15 to 18 percent of all schools in America have used his jigsaw classroom intervention, but it might be safe to say he may feel this remarkable number is still insufficient. To Aronson (2001), the “cliquish atmosphere of rejection and humiliation” found in schools makes “30 percent to 40 percent” of students “very, very unhappy,” creating a climate that potentially leads to conflicts ranging from teasing and bullying to suicide and acts of violence. His jigsaw classroom, however, may be one solution to all of these problems. Aronson (2001) thinks his intervention can be used to break down cliques of every kind, from nerds to jocks and from social class to popularity, and “There’s no bigger, stronger clique than race. And we overcame that.” Bold as these claims may be, there is some evidence to back them up.

Remarkable as the aforementioned short-term effects of the jigsaw classroom intervention are, their long-term results may suggest real and lasting behavioral and attitudinal change. Six weeks after a jigsaw classroom intervention, students playing at recess were far more racially mixed than were students at schools without the intervention (Aronson, 2001). Even five or ten years later, Aronson (2001) still receives letters from students and teachers describing lasting effects on empathy and self-esteem. In fact, one notable letter came from one of the students in Aronson’s first jigsaw class.

While a junior at the University of Texas–the same school at which Aronson developed the jigsaw classroom intervention–a man recognized himself, referred to by the pseudonym “Carlos,” in Aronson’s book The Social Animal and wrote to him about the difference the jigsaw experience made in his life. Under that pseudonym, Carlos (1982) wrote that when Aronson came into his 5th grade classroom, “I hated school” and felt “I was so stupid and didn’t know anything,” but “when we started to do work in jigsaw groups, I began to realize that I wan’t really that stupid.” The children he felt were bullies became his friends, “the teacher acted friendly and nice to me and I actually began to love school” so much that, at the time of his letter, he was about to go on to Harvard Law School. To Carlos (1982), Aronson and his jigsaw classroom saved his life. Who knows how many of the thousands of other children exposed to jigsaw interventions might feel the same?

 

References

Allport, G.W. (1979). The nature of prejudice (Rev. ed.). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA:  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Original work published (1954).

Aronson, E. (2001, March 27). A conversation with Elliot Aronson / Interviewer:  Susan Gilbert [Published interview]. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/27/health/a-conversation-with-elliot-aronson-no-one-left-to-hate-averting-columbines.html

Aronson, E., & Bridgeman, D. (1979). Jigsaw groups and the desegregated classroom:  In pursuit of common goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5(4), 438-446. doi:10.1177/014616727900500405

Aronson, E., Wilson, T.D., & Akert, R.M. (2013). Social Psychology (8th Ed.) Boston, MA:  Pearson.

Blaney, N.T., Stephan, C., Rosenfield, D., Aronson, E., & Sikes, ,J. (1977). Interdependence in the classroom:  A field study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 69(2), 121-128. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.69.2.121

Carlos. (1982). A letter from Carlos. Rpt. by Jigsaw Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.jigsaw.org/history/carlos.html

Jigsaw Classroom. (2016). Logo [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.jigsaw.org/

Kwantes, C.T., Bergeron, S., & Kaushal, R. (2012). Chapter 14:  Applying social psychology to diversity. In F.W. Schneider, J.A. Gruman, & L.M. Coutts (Eds.) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing
social and practical problems (2nd ed.) (323-347). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

 


27
Sep 16

New POTUS job requirement: “A presidential look”

What, exactly, comprises the “presidential look” that according to Republican candidate Donald Trump, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lacks? Although he demurs when asked for specifics, stating “I’m just talking about general,” (Parker, 2016), it can be concluded based on his former comments about women in general and former female political opponent Carly Fiorina in particular that there are gender politics at play in his remarks (Estepa, 2015). Unfortunately, Trump is not alone in his doubts about whether someone who looks like Clinton (i.e. female) would be able to project the aura of authority the office of the Presidency requires. The uncomfortable truth is that hidden sexism operates in our society, and many of us are uneasy with seeing women in a powerful role.

Penn State psychology professor Terri Vescio explains the gender bias that operates in the political sphere as a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation, in which “the more female politicians are seen as striving for power, the less they’re trusted and the more moral outrage gets directed at them…[because] if you’re perceived as competent, you’re not perceived as warm. But if you’re liked and trusted, you’re not seen as competent” (Bush, 2016). This catch-22 for women in politics (and in business) undermines their support among both men and women, and because much of it is implicit bias, it is often unrecognized. For example, even within the Obama administration female staffers often had to struggle to make their voices heard until they struck upon a strategy of “amplification” whereby they mutually drew attention to each other’s significant contributions in order ensure that the proper party received credit for the idea (Eilperin, 2016). I point this out in order to be clear that sexism is an issue that transcends political party affiliation, and therefore we all stand to lose out if valuable contributions from women are silenced by oppression either blatant or subtle.

Hostile sexism is easier to recognize for what it is, but there is another side to sexism that is more insidious: benevolent sexism. For example, I would describe myself as a feminist, but when I took the “Are You Sexist” quiz offered by PBS.org, my results indicated that I hold a fair degree of subtle gender prejudice:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-4-06-57-pmI encourage you to click the link above and see your own results – you might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. Anyone familiar with the Harvard implicit bias tests will recall that we don’t have to hold explicitly negative beliefs about others to be influenced by bias. Our implicit beliefs can lead us to behave in a manner which is discriminatory while we simultaneously think of ourselves as fair and considerate.

When you combine elements of hostile and benevolent sexism you get ambivalent sexism. We can see the interplay of these elements in Donald Trump’s statements about women, both positive and negative. Recently, professor Peter Glick, who along with Susan Fiske proposed the tripartite understanding of sexism stated, “Trump’s views are consistent with conventional ideologies that view women as wonderful…but with a catch” (Glick, 2016).

“Heterosexual men’s intimate interdependence on women (as objects of desire, wives, and mothers), fosters a ‘benevolent’ side to sexism. Benevolent sexism encompasses genuine warmth toward women, but only when they support rather than challenge men’s status, power, and privileges” (Glick, 2016).

Regardless of which candidate we choose to vote for in the upcoming election, I hope that we will all pay closer attention to our own assumptions about gender and competence. Often we hold women to different standards than men without realizing that we are doing so. In light of what I’ve learned in in this course (particularly Swim and Hyer’s (1991) research regarding women’s responses to sexist comments), I will not only strive to resist social pressure to silence myself, but will also do more to support other women as they work to make their voices heard. If enough men and women do the same, perhaps we can arrive at a point sometime in the future when saying that a female political candidate doesn’t look “presidential” will fail to cause some of us to nod in agreement.

Resources:

Allen, J. (2016, July 21). Anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric has become dangerous and violent. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from American, http://www.rushhourdaily.com/anti-hillary-clinton-rhetoric-become-dangerous-violent/

Bush, D. The hidden sexism that could sway the election. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/features/hidden-sexism/

Eilperin, J. (2016, September 13). White house women want to be in the room where it happens. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/09/13/white-house-women-are-now-in-the-room-where-it-happens/

Estepa, J. (2015, September 10). Donald Trump on Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face!” . Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/09/10/trump-fiorina-look-face/71992454/

Glick, P. (2016). Benevolent sexism and the art of the deal. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-enquiry/201609/benevolent-sexism-and-the-art-the-deal

Parker, A. (2016, September 7). Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton Doesn’t have “a presidential look.” Politics. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/us/politics/donald-trump-says-hillary-clinton-doesnt-have-a-presidential-look.html

Santhanam, L. (2016, August 10). Are you sexist? Take this quiz. . Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/are-you-sexist-take-this-quiz/

 


04
Oct 15

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong” is a song from Sesame Street that has stuck in my head for many years. Although, one might assume it to be harmless, it is a lesson that teaches children to focus on the differences, rather than the similarities. This form of cognitive training teaches us to see people that may be different than ourselves in the same manner, which is that they don’t belong. In all honesty, I have sung this as a joke, when I have been the minority in a certain situation (example: only girl in the room or oldest student in class). From early on, we are socialized to process information this way. Unfortunately, this is a major aspect of how our society works in general. This manner of thinking has caused conflict among diverse groups.

More often than not, rather than seeking and identifying a common ground with others, what is observed are the differences that exist in race, gender, sex, ethnicity, religion, social status, education, tax bracket, and even age. When these aspects differ than our own personal and social identity traits we consider the other party a member of the “out group,” without fully processing aspects that could assimilate them to one’s in-group. According to the social dominance theory, if the individual has negative social value this categorizing or separation is done in an attempt to protect the in-group to which we belong and to protect the status and power in the hierarchy along with resources. Identifying and protecting one’s place in all of this seems to be how one is able to identify best with one’s self. Therefore, if an individual has determined that a person is indeed a member of the out-group and considers them a threat, then as social identity theory predicts, the in-group individual will protect their group under these conditions and there is potential for conflict.

From early on, we are socialized to also look for those who most resemble ourselves, as we are repeatedly taught to find someone who we have something in common with, as a worthy friend or partner. Why wouldn’t we be encouraged and encourage others to seek out people who are different and that could enrich our lives with more knowledge, open mindedness, more tolerance, and more understanding? This type of motivating factor for choosing our in-group occurs socially and occupationally. Often one’s differences can be an obstacle in opportunities and promotions, particularly if they are not a part of the in-group that those in power belong to.

Diversity is present wherever one may turn, in everyday living. Whether it be interactions in school, work, business, finance, in the services we receive, and even at the grocery store. It is only logical that we attempt to find ways to improve inter-group relations. Diversity can present positive and negative opportunities, it appears that the outcome is based on whether stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination communication and or respect are present. One intervention that has supported that the potential exists to improve inter-group relationships is “contact”, where equal, but diverse groups are able to better acquaint and understand each other, through contact and by finding a similar goal to work on (Bikmen, 2011). This intervention can improve bias or discrimination that may have existed. Diversity management in the workplace or helping children de-categorize in school can also improve inter-group relationships, correct biases and stereotypes (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

Geert Hofdtede so eloquently explained cultural diversity as the differences in the “software” in each individual’s mind, (which includes experiences, culture, race, gender, values, socialization) but that we all have the same basic hardware, which is the biological brain (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). With this thought in mind, it should be less of a challenge to consider similarities and attempt to find ways to respect and be considerate of other people’s culture.  It has been suggested that cultural responsiveness is a way to exist within and among diversity and differences. This concept is based on exploring and honoring the differences of others, instead of attempting to change them and “requires openness to the viewpoints, thoughts, and experiences of others” (Williams, 2012). Perhaps, if we can modify our belief system about “otherness” as a negative thing, from the messages we have been taught so early on, about things that are different not belonging (Sesame Street – One Of These Things, 2007) then less conflict would occur.

References

Bikmen, N. (2011). Asymmetrical Effects of Contav=ct Between Minority Groups: Asian and Black Students in a Small College. American Psychological Association, 186-194. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/868623879?accountid=13158

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psycholgy: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). California: Sage Publicationss.

Sesame Street – One Of These Things. (2007, July 1). Retrieved October 2, 2015, from You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etuPF1yJRzg

Sesame Street – One of These Things. (2015, Masy 18). Retrieved October 2, 2015, from You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZci3eOafK0

Williams, L. Q. (2012, December 30). How to Accept and Respect other Cultures. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from HUB Pages:Sociology and Anthropology: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Accept-and-Respect-other-Cultures

 


03
Oct 15

Decisions – Consulting Myself or the Group?

Being employed in a setting that promotes diversity is one of the biggest benefits one can experience.  I realized this firsthand, as I moved from traditionally small companies to larger organizations throughout my career.  Although you may not realize it, interacting with different groups provides an advantage in helping you to develop an appreciation of different cultures and also experience new things as a result. Such exposure can also help you relate to others (co-workers, supervisors, customers, associates, etc.) and aid in instances such this – writing a blog to complete an assignment.  As I share my story with you, I encourage you to think of your own environments and see how it has enriched your cultural experience.

Ehtesham was a very different type of fellow to me at 21-years-old.  Although I grew up in the heart of Washington, D.C., during this time, the area did not offer diversity as you now see it.  “Shawn” as I affectionately called him, was Pakistani and just moved to America about a year before starting employment with my new company.  Since it was a small business, there wasn’t much diversity until he walked through the doors. Being naturally curious, I wanted to know more about him as I observed him eating different foods and exhibiting different attitudes that were a bit foreign to me.  While I would not have considered myself closedminded, my interaction with Shawn showed me how guarded I was.  For example, he offered a chicken samosa to me as a kind gesture and a form of friendship, since I didn’t know what it was, I was uneasy taking it.  I did not want to try anything new as I was fearful for whatever reason.  However, I eventually tried one (a few months later) and fell in love with the tasty meat pastry.  This extension of friendship, actually made me try other things and I am now more willing to see if I like or dislike by testing it first.

Trying new cuisines was just the beginning.  The real learning experience occurred when I begin viewing family interactions – it was then that I saw a different world from what I have come to know.  As we sat around the table eating dinner one day, the topic of marriage arose and Shawn asked me when will my parents select my husband.  I thought to myself, what kind of question is this?  My parents picking my husband?!  With a raised eyebrow, I responded that “I will choose the man I marry after we fall in love.”  Being around Shawn for a while during this time, I understood when his mother asked in Urdu why my parents weren’t arranging my marriage.  I explained that we usually choose our own husbands and it is an individual choice.  His mother seemed stumped by this, as well as the rest of the family, as they could not understand why we would do such a thing.  I then asked Shawn when he will marry and he stated that his parents will choose his bride since that decision will impact his family – “it’s an alliance.” Now I sat there stumped and didn’t know how to recover from the discussion.

Oyserman and Lee, along with Triandis (as cited in Schneider et al., 2012) describe such interactions as being the basis of individualism and collectivism.  With America being an individualized culture, many of the decisions we make will be based on what we think is right, not a decision made collectively.  As the authors note, an “idiocentric” makes decisions on their own despite what others may think or say (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 326).  Conversely, an “allocentric” person makes decisions based on the best interests of the group (Schneider et al., 2012, p. 326) which in Shawn’s case would consider his family.  Their values and structure did not change simply because they came to America, rather they traveled with them and the transition to the United States afford the family an opportunity to amass wealth – not change family traditions.

There were many other moments that I learned about the Pakistani culture from Shawn and I have taken the opportunity to do the same with others and their respective cultures in new environments. So now as I sit here typing this blog, I can reflect on the rich experiences that have followed me throughout both my professional and academic career.  It’s not always easy to break out of your comfort zone, but I guarantee once you do, you will enjoy what you learn along the way.

 

Reference:

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

 


04
Oct 14

Benevolent Sexism Is Not Benign

By Amy Caraballo

Benevolent sexism, discriminatory attitudes in the form of caring, complimentary, or pseudo-respectful statements, is likely one of the most surreptitious forms of sexism in our world, today. Studies have found that it is an important perpetuating factor that helps maintain gender inequality (Hammond, et al., 2014). Even more troubling is that victims sometimes pass on and encourage these attitudes believing them to be compliments or signs of respect (Hammond, et al., 2014). One only has to visit the Internet meme world to find hundreds of benevolent sexist examples, many of which are circulated by the most common victims, women and girls. It is difficult to understand how victims could spread harmful stereotypes about themselves. When one looks closer, however, the issue becomes clear; the effects of benevolent sexism are so pervasive and invisible, its victims are often completely unaware they have been wronged. Instead, it seems they sometimes believe they are empowered.

When the Powerful Dominate the Powerless

Sexist Message: A woman's purpose is to serve a man's every need.

Sexist Message: A woman’s purpose is to serve a man’s every need. Credit: lovethispic.com

Social Dominance Theory suggests that groups, including societies, are built upon group-based hierarchies with a few dominant groups controlling all the resources and power. The rest are all subordinate groups, or low-level groups that have few resources and little power. These groups are typically at the mercy of the dominant groups (Pratto, et al., 2006). In the case of gender in our society, classic males are dominant while classic females are subordinate. It is not just brute force and power that keeps the subordinates in their place, either. Helping maintain these hierarchies are more subtle tools such as legitimizing myths, otherwise known as culturally held beliefs (Pratto, et al., 2006). Much like folklore, legitimizing myths are beliefs and stereotypes about the way things are in a given culture or society. It is from these legitimizing myths benevolent sexist ideas were born and continue to be maintained. Statements like “women are caregivers” while “men are providers” and “girls are dainty and sensitive” while “boys are strong and thick-skinned” are examples of legitimizing myths about genders. These ideals are conditioned at the moment of birth by the type of words children hear at home, the influences of endless media exposure, and the influence of peers (Witt, 2000). Later, when these myths are woven into compliments and caring statements, it is harder to see the malicious intent which ultimately is to keep the genders unequal.

But It Was Meant as a Compliment

“Women are too emotionally unstable to be leaders.”

It is pretty clear, to most people, that this remark is sexist. But what about this comment?

“Women are better caregivers because they are nurturing.”

Sexist Message: A woman needs to be protected by a man and should be kept in her place.

Sexist Message: A woman needs to be protected by a man and should be kept in her place. Credit: all-greatquotes.com

It sounds a bit like a compliment to women. When we look closer, however, a sexist message is noticed; women should raise children. There is also a sexist message toward men; men are not supposed to be nurturing. If your thoughts turn toward examples of people who fit these stereotypes, thank legitimizing myths for shaping how society views and pigeonholes gender roles.

Compliments Do Not Hurt Anyone

tumblr_mpng2nUi7O1rc7e4ko1_500

Sexist Message: Girls are too emotional. Credit: theteenagerquotes.tumblr.com

It may be true that a real compliment is honoring. Benevolent sexist remarks, however, are not true compliments. Benevolent sexist remarks help spread the stereotype of the weak, frail, and emotionally unstable female (Tannenbaum, 2013). Additionally, studies have shown that women exposed to benevolent sexist attitudes were more likely to give in to those stereotypes thus maintaining their own gender inequality (Tannenbaum, 2013).

Where Do We Go From Here?

In order to stop the legitimacy of these cultural myths we have to do better at educating the public. We need awareness about what benevolent sexism is and how prevalent it has become. We can only fight back against such sexism once we understand what it is and how to recognize when its used. We must speak up when we hear it or see it and not condone its use by remaining silent. We must teach children to recognize this form of sexism and how to respond to its wrongful messages.

We must remove the invisibility cloak of this form of sexism and see it for what it is. Only then can we begin to aspire for gender equality. Benevolent sexism is not empowering. It is not benign. And certainly it is harmful to a society that strives for equal opportunity.


Hammond, M. D., Sibley, C. G., & Overall, N. C. (2014). The allure of sexism: Psychological entitlement fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(4), 422-429. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1948550613506124

Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., & Levin, S. (2006). Social dominance theory and the dynamics of intergroup relations: Taking stock and looking forward. European Review of Social Psychology, 17, 271-320.

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

Tannenbaum, M. (2013). The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly… PsySociety, Scientific American Blog Network. Scientific American Global. Retrieved October 4, 2014, at: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/2013/04/02/benevolent-sexism/

Witt, S. D. (2000). The influence of peers on children’s socialization to gender roles. Early Child Development and Care, 162, 1-7. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0300443001620101


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