PSYC 3480 Chapter Notes -Ageism, Ableism, Class Discrimination
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Psychology of Women
Chapter 1 Notes
- In many ways women’s lives are improving
o However, even in the twenty-first century, women are frequently treated in a biased
o the popular media and the academic community frequently neglect women and issues
important to them.
- Two related terms:
o Sex: is a relatively narrow term that typically refers only to those inborn biological
characteristics relating to reproduction, such as sex chromosomes or sex organs
o Gender: refers to the psychological characteristics and social categories that human
culture creates (For example, a friend showed me a photo of her 7-month-old son, whom
the photographer had posed with a football.)
Doing gender: you express your gender when you interact with other people;
you also perceive gender in these other people, such as an infant posed with a
football. (you provide gender messages to other people by your appearance,
your tone of voice, and your conversational style.)
You probably respond differently to a male than to a female.
The phrase doing gender emphasizes that gender is an active,
dynamic process rather than something that is stable and rigid.
Impossible to stop doing gender because it’s part of our actual identity
Sexism: is bias against people on the basis of their gender. A person who
believes that women cannot be competent lawyers is sexist. A person who
believes that men cannot be competent nursery school teachers is also sexist.
Sexism can reveal itself in many forms, such as social behavior, media
representations of women and men, and job discrimination.
One social category is considered normative or standard, whereas the
other categories are considered deficient
Racism: is bias against people on the basis of racial or ethnic groups. Research
suggests that White preschoolers tend to choose other White children as their
friends, even when the classroom includes many Black children
Classism: bias that is based on social class. Social class is defined
by such factors as income, occupation and education.
Provides special privileges to some people based on their social
Ableism: bias against people with disabilities.
can create inequalities for people with disabilities, both in the
workplace and in personal relationships
Heterosexism: bias against anyone who is not exclusively heterosexual.
ncourages many people to believe that male-female romantic
relationships should be considered normative, and therefore people in
same-gender relationships do not have the same rights and privileges
Ageism: bias based on chronological age. Ageism is typically directed toward
Feminism: principle that values women’s experiences and ideas; feminism also
emphasizes that women and men should be socially, economically, and legally
Definition does not exclude men. In fact, men as well as women can
People mistakenly assume that a feminist must be a person who
Feminism encompasses a variety of ideas and perspectives.
- Four different theoretical approaches to feminism:
o Liberal Feminism: people can achieve this goal by passing laws that guarantee
equal rights for women and men
emphasize that biological factors have relatively little effect on gender
Women and men who are liberal feminists believe that everyone benefits if we
can reduce our culture’s rigid gender roles
o Cultural Feminism: emphasizes the positive qualities that are presumed to be stronger in
women than in men—qualities such as nurturing and care- taking.
Cultural feminism therefore focuses on gender differences that value women,
rather than on the gender similarities of liberal feminism
o Radical Feminism: argues that the basic cause of women’s oppression lies deep in the
entire sex and gender system, rather than in some superficial laws and policies.
o Women-of Color Feminism: other three types of feminism overemphasize gender.
feminists emphasize that feminism must pay attention to other human
dimensions such as ethnicity and social class
Psychological Approaches to Gender:
- When psychologists examine gender issues, they usually favor either a similarities perspective or a
- The Similarities Perspective: believe that men and women are generally similar in their
intellectual and social skills
o Supporters of the similarities perspective also tend to favor liberal feminism.
o By de-emphasizing gender roles and strengthening equal rights laws, they say, gender
similarities will increase still further
o Social Constructionism: Social constructionism provides a useful perspective for
individuals and cultures construct or invent their own versions of reality, based
on prior experiences, social interactions, and beliefs
- The Differences Perspective: argues that men and women are generally different in their
intellectual and social abilities.
o emphasize women’s positive characteristics that have been undervalued, primarily
because they are associated with women
o those who favor the differences perspective also tend to be cultural feminists
o If we emphasize gender differences, we will simply strengthen people’s stereotypes about
o Essentialism: argues that gender is a basic, unchangeable characteristic that resides
within an individual. The essentialists emphasize that women are more concerned than
men with care giving because of their own inborn nature, not because society currently
assigns women the task of taking care of children.
women share the same psychological characteristics, which are very different
from the psychological characteristics that all men share.
Essentialism also emphasizes that women’s psychological characteristics are
universal and occur in every culture.
o G.S Hall did not like the fact that women would have an education – their role was to
Early Studies of Gender Comparisons
- Most of the early researchers in psychology were men.
- The early research on gender typically focused on gender comparisons, and it was often influenced
by sexist biases
- Helen Thompson Wooley: men and women had similar intellectual abilities
- Leta Hollingworth: menstrual cycles; no effect on intelligence
The Emergence of the Psychology of Women as a Discipline
- Research on the the psychology of women did not advance significantly until the 1970s
- Feminism and the women’s movement gained recognition on college campuses, and colleges
added numerous courses in women’s studies
- Association for Women in Psychology was founded in 1969
- 1973: American psychologists established an organization that is now called the Society for the
Psychology of Women; it is currently one of the largest divisions within the American
- 1970s, the research on the psychology of women also expanded dramatically. began to explore
topics such as women’s achievement motivation, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other
topics that had previously been ignored
Women and Ethnicity
- White-Privilege Concept: White people have certain privileges, based on their skin color
o White people seldom realize the advantages of having white skin
- White-as-normative concept: White is the normal standard in our culture
- Latina Women: second-largest ethnic group in the United States.
- Black Women: third-largest ethnic group in the United States.
- Asian American Women: Asian Americans are often stereotyped as the ideal minority group, and
in fact they are often academically successful
- Native American and First Nations Women: Native American women struggle as they try to
integrate their personal aspirations with the values of their culture.
Further Perspectives on Ethnicity
- Further more, some of the research shows that multiracial individuals may experience challenges.
- Intersectionality emphasizes that each person belongs to multiple social groups, based on
categories such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and social class (Cole, 2009). For instance,
a White lesbian may experience a disadvantage because she differs from the heterosexual
“standard.” However, compared to lesbians who are not White, she experiences a racial privilege
U.S. Centered Nationalism
- United States is dominant over all other countries in the world, which are believed to have lower status.
- U.S.-centered nationalism reveals itself in many ways that may be invisible to U.S. residents
- U. S. residents are “normal,” whereas the other countries have “second-class status.” If you are a U.S.
resident, and this point doesn’t seem accurate, how would you feel if Japan were the normative country, and
every U.S. e-mail address required the “us” ending?
In many ways women"s lives are improving: however, even in the twenty-first century, women are frequently treated in a biased fashion. the popular media and the academic community frequently neglect women and issues important to them. You probably respond differently to a male than to a female. The phrase doing gender emphasizes that gender is an active, dynamic process rather than something that is stable and rigid. Impossible to stop doing gender because it"s part of our actual identity. Sexism: is bias against people on the basis of their gender. A person who believes that women cannot be competent lawyers is sexist. A person who believes that men cannot be competent nursery school teachers is also sexist. Sexism can reveal itself in many forms, such as social behavior, media representations of women and men, and job discrimination. One social category is considered normative or standard, whereas the other categories are considered deficient.