Sexism involves preconceptions based on gender. Typically, sexism includes attitudes and actions that define women as different from and inferior to men. It can include stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination, and it’s a major factor in continued inequality between the genders. Sexist assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors may be subtle or overt.
What’s it like to go through your day experiencing sexism?
You are a young adult woman. You have a part-time job, attend graduate school, and enjoy dating, getting exercise, and spending time with friends.
As a typical young adult woman, you also sometimes encounter sexism in daily life.
You have an 8 a.m. class. You typically walk to class because parking is very limited on campus.
However, the last few times you walked to class, you were sexually harassed by the male students at one of the campus fraternity houses.
These fraternity members have established a habit of standing in front of their house and “rating” female students as they pass by.
You are running late this morning but can just make it to class on time if you take the quicker route past the frat house.
Or you can take a longer route that will avoid the frat house but will make you 10 minutes late for class.
Do you take the shorter route past the frat house or the longer route away from the frat house?
i take the shorter route past the frat house
You are sexually harassed
The frat guys are out in full force this morning. As you walk by, one yells, “She’s a six!” Another says, “Seven!” A third says, “Nah, I give her a five.” The first says, “I changed my mind . . . I’ll give her an eight!” You quicken your pace, keep your head down, and hurry to class. You arrive at class on time.
Street harassment is a common, but under-researched, form of sexual harassment. A 2014 study found that 65% of a sample of 2,000 U.S. women had experienced street harassment.
Among these women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.
At least you got to your statistics class on time! But a male professor known for his sexist attitudes toward women teaches the course.
He never calls on women in class or advises female doctoral students. Anecdotal comparisons suggest that he gives women lower grades.
The department is reluctant to confront him about his behavior because his academic prestige brings a lot of funding to the university.
Today in class, you and other women have raised your hands to answer questions over a dozen times, but he has not called on any of you.
Do you challenge the professor’s behavior or ignore it?
Statistics class is uneventful
You do not challenge the professor’s behavior. Your participation in class remains limited, and the professor is likely to continue to ignore you and the other women students. On the other hand, you haven’t given him any reason to make graduate school any more difficult for you than it already is.
After lunch, in one of the student offices, a heated discussion develops among the graduate students when they compare their salaries.
The graduate students are disturbed to discover that the male students receive larger stipends than the female students.
Do you complain to the department chair or ignore the pay discrepancy between male and female students?
The department chair is powerful. He makes funding decisions and assistantship assignments. You don’t know him well and are unsure how he will respond.
The chair is receptive
Together with two of your fellow students (one female and one male), you make a complaint to the department chair. To your relief, he treats your complaint seriously and promises to launch an investigation into gender-based pay discrepancies among the department’s graduate students
The gender wage gap is a major driver of inequality between men and women in advanced industrial economies. In the U.S., women, on average, earn just 79 cents for every $1 that a man earns.
The causative factors for this wage gap are complex and include overt discrimination, occupational stratification, and the devaluation of women’s work.
It hasn’t been the best day so far.
You were harassed on the way to class, were kicked out of class, and discovered a gender pay gap in your department.
But tonight you have a date! You are ready to relax and have some fun.
On your way home, you stop by your local pharmacy to fill a prescription for birth control pills. The pharmacist refuses to fill your prescription because he finds birth control morally objectionable.
You ask to speak to the manager, who supports his pharmacist’s decision. You have to drive across town to another pharmacy to have your prescription filled, making you late for your date.
In recent years, some states have passed so-called “conscience clauses” that protect healthcare providers who refuse to fill prescriptions on “moral” or “religious” grounds from being held liable.
Some states, such as Idaho, have passed sweeping legislation to protect healthcare workers, while other states have limited protections to those who refuse to provide emergency contraception.
You’ve finally arrived for your date—a blind date set up by a mutual friend.
Only 20 minutes into dinner, your date comments, “Wow, you’re not like other women. You’re really smart.”
Your date leaves you ambivalent
You finish your date and prepare to head home. As you exchange goodbyes, your date says that he would like to see you again. You haven’t yet decided whether you want to see him again.
Today you encountered street harassment, unequal treatment in the classroom, wage discrimination, discrimination in healthcare services, and a sexist date. These are all common forms of sexism that many women encounter regularly. What are the best decisions to make when encountering sexism? How can the problem be eradicated? What consequences are women likely to face when they challenge sexism?
Take a moment to reflect on the various choices you made in the simulation and their outcomes. one paragraph, discuss how both individual and societal factors influenced your decision-making and how these decisions can be understood using sociological concepts.
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