Woman’s Inhumanity to Women

My TIME.com column for you:


You would think that people with a history of discrimination in the work place might give those whom they resemble a break, but a growing body of research confirms exactly the opposite: women are just as likely as men to show sexism toward other women in hiring practices, salaries, and professional mentorship. One study even found that people of both genders would forgo thousands of dollars in salary to have a male boss.

Overt displays of sexism of the bottom-pinching variety are largely passé in the American workplace. What remains, unfortunately, is a set of subtler and more ingrained cognitive biases deeply rooted in our evolutionary and cultural past. Getting rid of them will require an honest reckoning with the inalienable fact that humans are primed to make implicit errors in perception, and even ‘good’ people who actively eschew bias may nonetheless harbor subtle, yet damaging, stereotypes of which they are unaware.

In one of the latest studies, a psychology experiment published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), senior science faculty across the country were presented with identical resumes for a lab manager job (a position that can often lead to graduate study) that differed only by the gender of the hypothetical applicant. The resume raters were statistically more likely to rate the male candidate higher on competence and “hirability” and were also more likely to offer the male candidate a bigger salary and greater professional mentorship. (By contrast, the hypothetical female applicants were rated more “likeable” but less hirable.) The women scientists were just as likely to favor male candidates as potential hires as the male scientists…

Continued at: http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/04/womens-inhumanity-to-women/#ixzz28KrctcFU

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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5 Responses to Woman’s Inhumanity to Women

  1. Unfortunately, I have seen and heard this quite often regarding the female boss. It is a shame, as women have fought for a long time to secure a position of authority in the work-place, only to abuse it. It is as though they adopt what might be considered a male attitude in a hope it will drive their careers further. Whether you are a male or female boss, discrimination and not mentoring/ supporting your staff is unforgivable.

  2. Peter says:

    But why do women prefer to have a male boss? I’ve had several female bosses; some good, a few exemplary. That may be because I did a lot of work in the non-profit/government arena. But even still, I’d like to dig in deeper.

    Also, women who behave aggressively are perceived as bitches, whereas men with similar behaviors are seen in a positive light.

    I also find it intriguing that people would overlook someone in a job perceived as more “likable.”

  3. most of my bosses have been male and they were disgusting excuses for the male species. The few female bosses I have had were wonderful. However, with female co workers I have had a mixture of people who liked me and those who were extremely competitive (biatches?). I work with a wonderful female lady now. My boss right now is male and a decent nice guy. Most of the men I work with are good guys. We have one guy who is a misogynist. I don’t think he is going to make it in our environment. I have lots of male working class customers. They are used to me now. I don’t let them get away with any crap. But, I had to train them to zip it.

  4. Sarah says:

    I would say most people don’t recognize when they’re biased. If they didn’t think their opinion was normal they probably would face a twinge of guilt. Maybe we should examine our own comfort zones of opinion to see where we might be engaging in self-protective thinking. For example, writing articles as a college administrator who contends with sexual assault on campus and references that college rape is more about two people being drunk or needing more responsibility. It’s just easier to think that’s the problem. The problem is that the college environment, fostered by the views expressed by the author, is a prime hunting ground for rapists. They know alchohol can mask the crime and rob their victims of credibility, sympathy, and deter them from reporting. It’s used as an excuse. Why don’t men report rape as often while drinking if it’s the alcohols fault? Maybe because these are planned “accidents” more often than people are comfortable to think. Get to know some criminals, they are really good at seeming innocent when you listen to them, but that’s why they’re used to and how they expect to get away with it.

    • I believe you have misunderstood (and misrepresented) my views – or perhaps I did not convey them adequately. I’ve written more in today’s post, College Sex: 50 Shades of Black and White.

      Thank you in any case for your feedback.

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