Stereotypes are the beliefs and assumptions that we associate with particular groups of people.
Gender stereotypes are the beliefs that we associate with females and males. In other words,
stereotypes refer to our thoughts about a social group; these thoughts may not correspond to
Prejudice refers to a negative attitude (could be positive too). Prejudice is an emotional reaction
or attitude towards a particular group of people.
Discrimination refers to bias treatment towards a particular group of people.
3 main gender Biases
o Gender stereotypes
o Gender discrimination
o Gender prejudice
Gender Biases throughout history
o Prior to 1960, the field of women’s history did not exist.
o Women have been invisible during the early ages because they weren’t considered
important enough – often coined to home and family.
o Philosophers throughout history have often depicted women inferior to men.
o John Stuart Mill (prior to the 20 century) – argued that women are equal to men.
Gender Biases in Religion and Mythology
o Women are typically less visible than me. Furthermore women are frequently portrayed
with negative characteristics, although every religion includes some positive
o *See examples
o Men are the standard of comparison, whereas women are “the second sex”
Gender Biases in Language
o Men and women are referred to as separate beings in the English language – often
invisible and inferior.
o Sometimes, the female member of a pair of words has a much more negative,
sexualized or trivial connotation than the male member does – see examples
o According to research, when a newspaper article uses biased terms to describe a
women, people judge her to be less competent than what she is described in gender-
o The masculine generic (sometimes called androcentric generic) is the use of masculine
nouns and pronouns to refer to all human beings –both males and females – instead of
o Gastil’s experiment (1990)- When read out sentences referring to ‘he’ or ‘they’ to see
the mental image displayed by participants.
Female participants reported four times as many male images as
female images when they responded to sentences containing HE.
In contrast, females reported an equal number of male and female
images when they responded to sentences containing THEY. Males, in responding to the HE sentences, reported an astonishing 13:1
ration of male images to female images, but only a 4:1 ratio in response
to the THEY sentences.
In short, masculine generic terms produce more thoughts about males
than do gender-neutral terms.
Gender Biases in Media
o Research generally demonstrates the following 8 conclusions about media
Women are relatively invisible: women are underrepresented in the media. Men
dominate the entertainment - more male actors. Rarely do we see women
athletes on television. 35% of computer clipart images are female. In addition,
women are seldom featured in video games, partly because fewer than 10% of
video-game designers are female.
Women are relatively inaudible: 70-90% of voiceovers are mostly male.
Women are seldom shown working outside the home: newspapers and
magazines are more likely to show men working in a place of employment.
Females magazine tend to minimize the importance to pursuing a career.
Women are showing doing housework: Men are rarely shown to do the
housework or taking care of children. When they do they tend to be humorously
Women and men are represented differently: The media are likely to treat me
more seriously than women.
Women’s bodies are used differently than men: Magazines and newspapers
rarely show overweight women (except in weight loss commercials), in comic
book women’s figures are often exaggerated. In contrast men are strong and
muscular and they typically adopt a rigid, dignified body posture. Physical
attractiveness is defined more important for women than for me.
Women of colour are underrepresented and they are often shown in a
particularly biased way: Seldom shown in romantic relationships. Other women
or colour are rarely shown in the media (Latinas, Asians etc). They often depict a
polarized representation of women – either they are ‘good girls’ or ‘bad girls’ –
either asexual or sex pots. In summary, women or colour are both
underrepresented and misrepresented by the media.
Lower-social-class women are underrepresented, and they are often shown in a
particularly biased way: Not many magazines talk about low-income women,
and when they do it is often depicted by a black women.
Effects of Stereotypes Representation:
o Yes, the media do reflect reality
o Yes, the media can actually influence reality by changing some people’s attitudes and
cognitive performance According to theories, the term communion emphasizes a concern for your relationship with
other people. Terms associated with communion (such as gentle and warm) are usually
In contrast the term agency describes a concern with your own self-interests. Terms associated
with agency (such as self-confident and competitive) are stereotypically masculine.
People do not have unified gender stereotype when they judge women and men in all four
ethnic groups. Instead, people combine information about the gender and ethnicity of the
target, so that they create a variety of gender stereotypes.
o Furthermore we apparently create subtypes within each of these gender ethnicity
categories – distinguished between ‘good woman’ and ‘bad woman’
Intersectionality emphasizes that each person belongs to many social groups, based on
characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class.
Explicit gender stereotypes: the kind of answer an individual gives when they are aware that
they are being assessed.
Implicit gender stereotypes are the automatic stereotypes you reveal when you are not aware
that your gender stereotypes are being assessed.
o This research typically uses the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT is based on the
principle that people can mentally pair words very rapidly if they are related. And they
take significantly more time to pair unrelated words.
Present day sexism is less obvious. 3 Components of prejudice
o Attitudes towards women’s competence
Here are the circumstances in which women’s competence is most likely to be
Males are more likely than females to downgrade women, especially if
the participants have traditional attitudes
People are more likely to rate women less favourably than men when
they don’t have much information about a persons’ qualification
Bias against women may be strongest when a woman is acting in a
stereotypically masculine fashion