How and Where Does Gender Bias Most Affect Women?
We are born into a world of stereotypes. In many ways, these can be helpful in allowing us to make sense of the world, and to make predictions as to how people will behave or the outcome of a situation. However, for the most part, stereotypes are harmful. They cause us to make assumptions about a person based on a broad factor such as race, religion, age or gender. As humans we’re all so different, and rarely do we fit into these tightly defined boxes. While we all know and understand this, stereotype and bias continues to dominate, and gender bias is something that we still see enormously. While biases of of course exist for men and women, this article will discover how it affects females throughout different areas of their lives.
One of the most significant places we will see gender bias taking place is at work- but it might not necessarily be in the way you think. According to the Equal Pay Act, paying wages based on a person’s gender is against the law and has been for almost fifty years now. However, we all know that this isn’t the full story. We can see that discrimination of women in the workplace is still occuring by looking at the gender pay gap, this is a measure of the different average hourly salaries earned by men and women within a company. For example, a company might pay men and women the same for the similar positions, but still have a gender pay gap because the majority of men are performing the top jobs. We need to be designing policies, systems and environments that take the bias out of the workplaces. We need to work towards eliminating gendered language from job advertisements and put more importance on an flexible workplace culture- this would allow women to manage their care commitments of children and other relatives along with their career. Women are also subject to sexualisation, harassment and other issues at work, many of these going unreported. This is a significant issue that needs tougher penalties for perpetrators.
There are many ways that gender stereotype exists in sports for women. From sexualisation to lack of opportunity, to unequal viewership and much more. Studies have shown that the coverage of women in sport is bleak, with female athletes receiving less screen time than their male counterparts and less womens sports being shown at all. When it comes speaking on air, female athletes were significantly more likely to be spoken for by another person such as a coach or staff member. It has been long recognised that gender influences the visibility of sport in the public, and this can influence interest and attitudes towards the sport. In turn this can affect funding and therefore opportunities. A study called I Just Want To Play”: Women, Sexism, and Persistence in Golf’ showed how women reported feeling ignored, overlooked, or unimportant on the course despite the fact that the sport does not inherently privilege men or women physically. While more women are hopping on their golf carts and getting involved in the sport, there are a number of barriers that create bias- from tokenism on the course to lack of leisure time due to care and career differences between men and women. These kinds of barriers are seen across all sports, and are an example of ways that gender bias can affect us without us even realising. These subtle biases towards men and male competitors creates less opportunities for women, and less chance that they’ll pick up the sport in the first place.
Medical care is of course all about keeping people alive, and should therefore be free of any kind of bias. However, it’s clear that this is not the case. Race and poverty both feed into the bias in the healthcare system, but perhaps most surprisingly so does gender. While men do tend to fare badly when it comes to mental health, several studies have concluded that women were more likely to be inadequately treated by healthcare providers. For example, women are more likely to be given sedatives for their pain, and men given pain medication. One even found that women are less likely than men to be given CPR. It showed that only 39% of women who have a cardiac arrest in a public place were given CPR, versus 45% of men. Dementia care is another area where women draw the short straw, with the research showing that women with dementia receive worse medical treatment than men with the condition. They make fewer visits to the GP, receive less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful medication than men do. While women have a longer life expectancy than men, they spend fewer years in good health. Poverty, social exclusion, total workload, and unpaid work linking back to being a woman all have potential adverse effects on the wellbeing and long-term health of women and it’s these areas that all need to be addressed. Then when the healthcare they do receive isn’t as good as their male counterparts, it’s easy to see that gender bias is causing significant problems.
While gender discrimination undoubtedly does still exist and affects women every day in this country, there are even more problems that happen overseas. From not being allowed to vote, not being allowed to drive, honour killings, female genital mutilation and female infanticide there are many problems that women in other countries face simply because they were born a girl. Sexual abuse and arranged marriages to young girls are still extremely common, and in general women suffer from a lack of legal rights. This covers everything from child custody to rape laws, Spousal rape is not criminalised in many countries and complaints made to the police often never materialise.
The progress made over the decade to combat gender discrimination has been good, with many political and activist movement making a genuine difference. However it’s clear that so much more needs to be done.