Second-generation gender bias
Second-generation gender bias refers to practices that may appear neutral or non-sexist, in that they apply to everyone, but which discriminate against women because they reflect the values of the men who created or developed the setting, usually a workplace. It is contrasted with first-generation bias, which is deliberate, usually involving intentional exclusion.
An example of second-generation gender bias is that leaders are expected to be assertive, so that women who act in a more collaborative fashion are not viewed as leaders, but women who do act assertively are often perceived as too aggressive. This kind of bias, or gender stereotyping, can be entirely unconscious.
Second-generation gender bias is a form of discrimination against women because their practices reflect the values of the men who created the setting, which is often the workplace. Gender bias is one of the most regularly appearing biases shown in the workplace, as opposed to racist bias or personal bias. Few people in workplaces with gender diversity recognize it as a problem, and many people, including those who work in single-gender workplaces, are not aware it is happening at all. An example of second-generation gender bias is that in some work places, women are not being hired because the company is a male-dominated workplace. Work cultures may be created to appear to be neutral and unbiased, but they are not. Second-generation gender bias truly shows the unseen truth that women are discriminated against men.
Faye Crosby argues that second-generation gender bias goes unnoticed in the workplace not only by men, but also by women. Many women experience second-generation gender bias in the workplace, but fail to even notice that such discrimination is happening. Women who do recognize second-generation gender bias may feel more power-driven, rather than taken advantage of, when thinking of the discriminatory acts that she has experienced in the past. According to Herminia Ibarra, women recognizing these discriminatory acts makes the women feel empowered to push themselves to achieve leadership opportunities that she is qualified for and exceed the expectations of herself in order to be more successful than the males in the workplace. Masculine traits, such as strong, confident, and definitive, are typically preferred in the workplace because they make the company appear to be more driven and confident in its success. However, when a woman shows these "masculine traits," she is often thought of as bossy, rude, and full of herself. Experts say that men are more of the natural-born leaders because of their biological preferences. Women could be strong leaders as well because they can be compassionate towards those under them, which, in turn, could result in better relationships and stronger teams.
Another specific example of second-generation bias is how in some places, companies are having trouble keeping women engineers as employees. These women are not staying in their field because of their low self-esteem in regards to failing in front of their mostly male counterparts. These women may feel intimidated and outnumbered by the males in the workplace, causing them to fear failing while being watched by an audience that is majority male-dominant. If there wasn't such discrimination in the workplace regarding women in charge and working in a place full of men, studies show that women would not have such low self-esteem, and they would possibly continue to try their best to succeed in their field. This behavior of women is sometimes unconscious and is caused because of this second-generation gender bias.
While women are attending college and earning degrees now more than ever, statistics show that women are not advancing in school like men are. There has been an increase in number of women that are receiving their doctorates, but the increase does not correspond with the amount of women that are becoming professors and high level positions, such as president. Many people believe discrimination ended in the mid '60s, when campaigns for ending discrimination still exist. Sandra Bem (1981) made known the gender schema theory, which explains how an individual's sex identity is essential to the culture in which one is brought up. These ideas are still interfering with women from advancing into society. Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) propose that gender discrimination will never go away, it has just "gone underground."
The main difference between first-generation gender bias and second-generation gender bias is whether or not it is intentional. In first-generation gender bias, one intentionally discriminates against another, whereas in second-generation gender bias, the discrimination is not intentional.
Ending this second-generation gender bias is hard because men and women alike do not realize discrimination is taking place, or deny that it is occurring. Because this problem is over-looked so frequently, it is not recognized as a major problem in many workplaces. One example of a solution could be as easy as using initials instead of a full name to hide gender bias when applying for employment in the workplace. Although this would not change the bias entirely, it would make employers review the resumes without paying attention to gender. Budden et al. (2007) proved that when women were judged by their work blindly, the number of women hired increased.
- Sherrie Bourg Carter, "The Invisible Barrier: Second Generation Gender Discrimination", Psychology Today, 1 May 2011.
- Susan Ehrlich Martin, Nancy C. Jurik, Doing Justice, Doing Gender, SAGE Publications, 2006, p. 126.
- Rita Gardiner, Gender, Authenticity and Leadership, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, p. 52.
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