Sexism is the discrimination, prejudice, or stereotyping on the basis of perceived, or actual, binary gender (male/female) and societal stereotypes surrounding the binary gender system. The beliefs around the fundamental nature of men and women and the roles they ‘should’ perform in society are linked to sexism. Gender stereotypes, which are the result of sexist assumptions about women and men, can place one gender above the other.
Kyl Myers, a sociologist who specializes in gender and sexual & reproductive health, talks about how gender inequality starts in utero and how children are taught the social and cultural norms that are ‘expected’ of them within our society based on their anatomy – from birth! Kyl shares the idea that if we want adulthood gender equality, we have to change the way we treat children. Three points are highlighted in this talk. First, there are real and harmful gender disparities experienced by adults; second, these disparities are rooted in childhood; and third, we have the power to do something about it.
“What if, instead of treating boys and girls dramatically different, we tried to instill in them well-rounded, positive traits like kindness, a sense of adventure, compassion, critical thinking, and comedic timing. Most of us want a world without gender inequality, but it’s going to take us all being honest with ourselves about how we reinforce it. If equality is what we want, we have to create it.”
Let us ask you this:
- What are your typical initial/first thoughts when you encounter someone of a different gender? Do these first thoughts align with what you believe to be true about all people?
- What is your current experience with sexism? Have you, or someone you know, ever had a lived experience with sexism? If yes, what impact did it have on you?
- Reflecting on the TEDx Talk, how does the message impact you? Your environment/organization?
This month, we want to address the pervasive issue of sexism and its impact on individuals and society as a whole. It is important to recognize that gender does not define a person’s capabilities or attitudes, and it cannot be a determining factor in the opportunities that are offered to them. We need to stand up against sexism and take action to eliminate it from our communities, workplaces, and institutions.
Only by working together can we create a society that values and respects all people, regardless of their gender or any other aspect of their identity.
Are you concerned about “saying the wrong thing” with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional and/or personal settings? Are you struggling to navigate challenging situations that require sensitivity and awareness?