Following on from last week’s column on how our brains assign positive and negative traits to men and women without asking us, we look at how we all hold bias ubiquitously.
Or in plain English, women can be as sexist and upholding of the patriarchy as men. How does this play out in the workplace? It appears in small and large ways in offices, hospitals, orchestras, schools and governments.
When some women work for female bosses, the experience can sometimes be perceived by them as less than optimal? Is the female boss truly awful as an individual ? Maybe or maybe not, as we can look to deep behavioral theory to explain why people act the way that they do. Social psychology theory by Lewin suggests that behavior is a function of a person’s personality activated by the environment that they are operating in. So, when you are working for a female boss who happens to be taking on traits that you do not expect her to (as a woman), you might consider that this boss might be beholden to the systemic forces that encourage behaviors that are activated in their personality. She might have consciously or unconsciously chosen that path as assimilation is what most career blogs and experts have spat at women for the last thirty years. Doesn’t make it right, but certainly explains things.
Or it could be you who has deep rooted issues about who the boss should be? You could be jarred as she isn’t meeting your stereotypical traits imagined for her as a female manager. This is only worsened by the gender segregation that is peddled falsely as brain science. Men are not from Mars, Women are not from Venus. Newsflash, we are all from Earth and we all need to do a better job on Earth at reducing bias that comes with instant thoughts of who the other person is. We all are socially conditioned to believe the differences between the sexes are the same for everyone and this discredits the real work of letting people speak and act as individuals at work while understanding that by virtue of having a social identity, has legacy trait and role assumptions in society and therefore at work too. Outwardly we see gender, ethnicity etc as a feature of the human in front of us but we have to stop that from being a definition of capability and capacity and actual experience.
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