New Report Finds that Women and Girls Continue to Face Overwhelming Gender Bias Across Sectors

Press Release

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Haas Institute co-releases new report with the Perception Institute and leading social scientists with proven solutions to reduce the effects of implicit and explicit gender bias in the media, workplaces, schools, and communities. 

Berkeley/October 27, 2016: Ahead of the historic 2016 Presidential Election, the Haas Institute is pleased to co-release today with the Perception Institute the Science of Equality Volume 2: The Effect of Gender Roles, Implicit Bias, and Stereotype Threat on the Lives of Women and Girls, a groundbreaking report drawing upon decades of research in social psychology to understand the mechanisms that explain why gender disparities persist in all areas of our lives despite generally accepted norms of gender equality. 

Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society john a. powell is a co-author of the new report, along with Rachel D. Godsil, Director of Research for Perception Institute, and leading social psychologists Linda R. Tropp, Professor of Psychology and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Phillip Atiba Goff, President of the Center for Police Equity.

Science of Equality Volume 2 CoverThe report focuses on how gender bias plays out across various domains, including in the media, workplaces, communities, schools, and our homes. Building upon the Perception Institute’s inaugural Science of Equality Volume 1: Addressing Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat in Education and Healthcare, this new  report addresses gender as it intersects with race and ethnicity, exploring the different stereotypes associated with black women, Latina women, Asian-American women, and white women. The report examines how women navigate these stereotypes and highlights interventions to reduce the harm of implicit bias and stereotyping. 

From Alexis McGill Johnson, Executive Director of Perception Institute: 

"As this election season has made abundantly clear, gender bias still impacts women and girls tremendously and shapes how we navigate the world. Nearly every woman in this country has felt the discomfort of gender bias at some point in her life, either explicitly or implicitly, and even the well-intentioned can be guilty of perpetuating bias. Now, by raising awareness and offering practical solutions, we hope to provide both women and men with the tools to properly confront and counter bias.”

Some key insights from the report include:

  • The way we envision femininity is largely based on an idealized image of the white woman. This concept of femininity creates expectations around professional behavior that constrain all women, especially women of color, and reinforces negative stereotypes including: the “welfare queen” black woman, the “spicy and uncontrollable” Latina woman, and the excessively submissive Asian woman.
  • Women often experience “benevolent” sexism in which they are idealized as mothers, wives, and caregivers. An example of benevolent sexism would be a woman bypassed for a promotion because of the assumption that the increased work and stress will interfere with her care for her children. This form of sexism can be less obvious than traditional “hostile” sexism and its effects can be particularly insidious because it is masked in seemingly positive ways.
  • Women in leadership often have to juggle proving their competence as leaders while fitting into norms of femininity in order to avoid backlash. Women leaders who do not embody traditional norms can face significant backlash, from men and women. Fear of backlash prevents women from acting in counter-stereotypical ways, such as advocating for themselves in a salary negotiation.
  • Sexual and gender harassment towards women is often tied to men’s conception of their masculinity, as well as environments in which harassment is permissible. Men who feel their masculinity or authority is threatened may attempt to reaffirm their dominance in ways that harm women. Social and workplace environments in which harassment is commonplace encourage men, who may not otherwise do so, to participate.
  • Parents and teachers can encourage young girls’ interest in STEM, and build their confidence overall, by fostering a more collaborative, applied learning environment in and beyond the classroom.
  • Beyond increasing the representation of women of color in classrooms and workplaces, facilitating women’s interactions among peers and with experts is critical to creating an environment where women of all races can succeed.

The full Science of Equality Volume 2: The Effect of Gender Roles, Implicit Bias, and Stereotype Threat on the Lives of Women and Girls report can be downloaded at https://perception.org/publications/science-of-equality-vol-2/.

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The Perception Institute is a consortium of researchers, advocates, and strategists that uses cutting-edge mind science research to reduce discrimination and other harms linked to race, gender, and other identity differences. Working in areas where bias has the most profound impact—education, health care, law enforcement and civil justice, and the workplace—Perception Institute designs interventions, evaluations, communications strategies, and trainings. Turning research into remedies, Perception Institute crafts real-world solutions for everyday relationships. To follow Perception Institute’s work, please visit perception.org.

The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley is an independent research institute bringing together scholars, community stakeholders, policymakers, and communicators to identify and challenge the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society in order to create transformative change. Visit haasinstitute.berkeley.edu to find out more.

Contact:

Poonam Mantha, BerlinRosen Public Affairs
Email: poonam.mantha@berlinrosen.com  phone: 646.200.5330