Fierce Fridays – Gender Bias

Welcome to week four of sharing excerpts from the book, Fierce: A New Generation of Female Empowerment. This book is for those who have a desire to get the most out of life. Those who want to make positive change, but are not sure how to make it happen. It is for young women who will soon be out of high school and on their way to college or some other adventure. It is also for women of any age who needs a reminder of how fierce she can be.  My hope is that you will share these posts with all the girls and women in your life. Let them know the book can be read for free online or a a soft cover book is available for sale at Bookemon.com. Enjoy!

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” – Chris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

Gender Bias 

   Starting at a young age we are assigned roles for our genders. Girls are dressed in lots of pink and white because it is “pretty and innocent”. We are then given dolls and kitchen sets so we can learn old school feminine roles. Boys are dressed in lots of blues and red because those are “tough, manly” colors. They are then given trucks and building blocks so they can learn old school masculine roles.  Slowly, but thankfully some parents have clued into the idea that stereotypical roles at a young age does effect how we grow and limit ourselves in relation to the world.

Gender bias is not just directed towards females. It goes both ways. The downside to only doing what “fits your gender” is missing out on so many experiences. Girls may never learn how to stand up for themselves against domestic abuse or change a flat tire when stuck on the side of the road and boys may never know how to care for their own children or sew up a hole in their favorite jeans. We don’t have time to learn everything in life, but it is important to not be stuck in a limiting role.  We should not feel like certain activities or goals are specific to only one gender.

  • Is it fair that girls are usually expected to do household chores like clean the dishes or vacuum?
  • Is it fair that boys are told they need to play sports to be manly and tough?
  • How do you feel when someone describes something or an action as “girly” or “manly”?
  • What other characteristics could you use to describe someone without gender indications?
  • What types of careers do the women you know have?
  • What types of careers do the men you know have?
  • Do you see patterns of gender limitations in the careers they chose?

As we get older, gender roles become even more enforced. Clothing and products are marketed to girls so they can look pretty and sexy. Boys are marketed clothing and products so they can look rough, tough, and handsome.

  • How do you feel about toys and clothes that are limited to princess or flower themes?
  • What types of clothing do you like to wear?
  • Do you dress to look older or prettier?
  • Is it important for you to look sexy?
  • Does it seem like you are being forced to look a certain way so that you are “girly” enough?

We have yet to become a truly equal society. Women still get paid less than men in some careers, our reproductive rights constantly face attacks, and we are still objectified and abused around the world.  There is an old belief that men are the primary income providers of families so they should be paid more than women. Of course this is not often true. Many families that have two parents rely on both incomes to get by and there are no shortage of single mothers who are a family’s sole income provider.

It is important that women are paid as much as men when they perform the same job. How do you feel to know that a man can be paid more than you for the same job? In 1963 the Equal Pay Act (EPA) became law and legally abolished the practice of paying men more than women for the same type of job, though it is not necessarily enforced. In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (LLFPRA) was signed into law.  While the EPA is supposed to ensure that women and men are paid the same, it does not state that women can seek lost wages if she finds out that she is getting paid less than a man for the same job.

This act started because one woman, Lilly Ledbetter found out that while working at the tire company, Goodyear, she had been paid thousands of dollars less than men who worked the same jobs. She sued the company for sex discrimination and won. But Goodyear appealed, the case went to the Supreme Court and after 8 years of appeals it was ruled that she could not seek restoration. This happened because before the Lily Ledbetter act, a person only had 180 days to file an employment complaint, but she didn’t know about the wage gap until years later. She fought back and eventually succeeded at creating a new law that gives women the right to seek restoration pay. *(3)

You don’t have to spend several years of your life fighting like Lily did. You can be active in politics and make sure that everyone has equal protection through our government.  Go online to USA.Gov/Contact/Elected and contact your elected officials. To find local elected officials go to StateLocalGov.Net. You can speak up by calling or sending an email to express your concern about laws and issues that are most important to you. If you don’t vote and express yourself to the people who are in charge of your city, state and country than someone else with a different opinion will. It is up to you…. Continue reading at Bookemon.com.

2 comments

  1. You bring up a great point about educated women not standing for abuse. It’s so true that knowledge = power. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  2. Leah,

    Your post is good food for thought. In the last decade more women now earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. I see this as a positive shift to change the gender gap in salary discrimination.
    I’m also hoping that the increase in educated women means less partner violence in the future.
    Roberta

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