In 2014, Always launched a campaign addressing the common phrase “like a girl”. The stereotype surrounding this phrase suggests that women do things in an inferior way compared to men. The women in the ad screened during the Super Bowl challenge this stereotype by redefining the meaning of the phrase. Doing something “like a girl” is not to be ashamed of. Women around the world should be proud of the phrase as it should imply success in whatever they are doing.
The moral of the Always campaign is to “rewrite rules” and this is what we are going to do by listing five common prejudices about women and trying to break them down by giving you the examples of the opposite.
Women do not need to go to university
Gender inequality in education starts with literacy. Did you know that, according to an UNESCO report from 2008, there are 796 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds of them being women?
However, the prejudice that a woman’s only job is parenting and taking care of the house is challenged by new statistics from the federal Education Department of Australia, which indicates that 60% of graduates were women in 2012.
Men are better leaders than women
According to a Gullup poll, if they have the choice, 35% of Americans prefer a male boss over a female boss. In addition, an American businesswoman, Rosabeth Moss Kanter identified four common “role traps” for women back in 1983. They are the pet, the mother, the battle-axe and the seductress. A leader is not one of them, obviously.
Even though this prejudice is still present in mass media and popular culture, today’s society has made a progress in this sense. 2014 saw 104 women in Congress, while Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nancy Pelosi, some of the most well-known leaders nowadays have turned the typical stereotypes into a positive thing.
Women are not funny
This cliché can be expanded to “female comedians only talk about women things” and “female comedians are just angry feminists/lesbians”. One of the scientific reasons why this happens lies in cognitive schemas, which are defined as patterns of thought helping you organize new information. It contains features associated with certain category, in this case the schema is “comedy=men”. The problem is that schemas are liable to maintaining stereotypes.
Try to eliminate this prejudice by watching Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Claire Hooper, Aleisha McCormack, or Fiona O’Loughli.
Women talk more than men
Do you remember Dame van Winkle from a short story Rip van Winkle by Washington Irving? She embodies the archetype of women portrayed at that time: garrulous and annoying.
Linguistics says otherwise. A New Zealand’s linguist Janet Holmes investigated the talking time of women and men, who participated at public seminars. Her results indicate that, during discussions, men asked two-thirds of the total number of questions. In addition, Canadian researchers scrutinized 63 studies which investigated the amount of talk used by women and men in the USA. Out of 63 studies, men talked more than women in 61 one of them.
Women are bad drivers
That prejudice can be masked into a joke and not taken seriously can be seen in an episode Jane’s Driving Lesson of the popular sitcom The Jetsons from 1963. When George pulls up behind a women driver and becomes confused by her hand signals, he shouts “Women drivers, that’s the problem!”
On the other hand, history is full of successful female race car drivers, including Denise McCluggage (the only journalist inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame), Sabine Schmitz (won a 24 Hours of Nürburgring twice), Pat Moss (wrote The Art Technique of Driving), Jutta Kleinschmidt (won the Dakar in 2001), etc. So, all of you who do not have a driver’s licence, it is high time you took a safe driver course.
Overcoming stereotypes can start with a simple thing: being aware of the inner feelings and thoughts and how they can affect others.