Posts Tagged ‘Gender Stereotypes’

In an apparent attempt to copy the “Apple Genius” model of customer service, Best Buy has apparently started referring to their employees as “Blue Shirts.” This language is present on their website and in their TV ads.  Lately I have seen this Best Buy commercial on TV referring to a particular “Blue Shirt,” Kristina:

In the ad, Kristina is “testing” an HTC One cell phone from Verizon. She spends some time talking about how good the coverage is while she is shown running. So far, so good. Best Buy has recognized that women can be knowledgeable about technology. That’s not all they know about, though.

The next line highlights the multitasking ability of the HTC one (iPhones on Verizon cannot access cellular data while takling). To do so, Kristina states, “Usually when I’m talking on the phone I’m also shopping, so it’s nice to have the multitasking ability.” O. M. G. The HTC One is a stereotypical teenage girl’s dream! But does it come in pink? Nope, only silver and blue, and the blue is a Best Buy exclusive.

Kristina knows that blue is for boys (it is bad enough that she has to wear a blue shirt to work!), so after mentioning how fast the networking is she takes off running again. Boys are icky.Wait, Kristina, you took the phone with you! All of the talking and shopping in the world won’t save you from cooties!

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A staple of Introduction to Sociology courses is the toy assignment, in which students are asked to visit a local store and take note of the gendered nature of the offerings. While boys and girls might not universally agree with the things that are supposed to be for them, the prevalence of these messages in stores, ads, and TV commercials makes them hard to avoid. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, one company in Sweden is challenging these norms in its most recent Christmas catalog.

A comparison of Top-Toy’s Swedish catalogs with their Danish counterparts shows girls have replaced boys in some photos featuring toy guns, and boys have swapped places with girls in photos featuring dolls and stuffed dogs. In one picture in the Swedish catalog, a boy is blow-drying a girl’s hair whereas in the Danish version, a somewhat older girl is blow-drying her own hair.

Top-Toy also is working on adjusting store displays and packaging to reflect the gender-neutral approach, said Jan Nyberg, Top-Toy’s sales director in Sweden. Boys and girls can now be seen playing together on boxes of “Happy House,” Top-Toy’s own kitchen set.

“We can’t decide what the big toy makers’ boxes should look like as their products are made for the global market, but we can make changes on our own boxes and in our stores,” Mr. Nyberg said.

A saleswoman said she hasn’t seen much difference in store displays but noted employees now are trained to avoid stereotypes when talking to customers. “If someone asks for a present for a 5-year-old girl, we don’t automatically take them to the dolls section,” she said. “Instead, we ask them what her interests are.”

Sweden appears to have gender norms that are very different than those in the US, so it seems that the store is reflecting society rather than attempting to change it, but it would be nice to live in a place where kids grow up receiving messages that they could be, and play with, anything that they want.

Via: The Society Pages


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Women’s roles have changed a great deal in the past 50 years while men’s, well, haven’t. Women are attending college and getting jobs in ever-increasing numbers, even if they don’t get paid the same amount as men once they get those jobs. On top of all of this, there has been a decline in the number of men who want to get married. Why? Because women! At least that’s the argument that Suzanne Venker makes in a Fox News opinion post. Apparently, a few men she knows claim that they don’t want to get married because “Women aren’t women anymore.” She writes:

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.

It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.

So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

To summarize, women have gained equality with men, who have done nothing to change the way they want to interact with women, but this equality is bad for women because no man wants to marry a woman who is equal! Hanna Rosin, the author Venker criticizes, responds at Slate, stating:
Unfortunately, Venker is somewhat enigmatic about how to reverse this problem, beyond a few vague clues. Women, she says, “have the power to turn everything around” (Duh, of course, we have ALL the power). “All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.” Surrender to my femininity. Surrender to my femininity. I get the general idea but what does it mean, like, in practice? Not wear pants so much? Let my hair grow. Ask my boss to pay me a little less? Open to ideas.
Of course, since she is a working woman trying to knock men off of their pedestals when she should actually be raising a family, it is hard to believe that Venker came up with this idea on her own. As you can see below, it actually originated with noted gender scholar Archie Bunker in the 1970s:

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Along the lines of my Sexism sells post from a few years ago, Automotive site Jalopnik recently posted about the difficulties they face when looking for images of women working on cars. As Matt Hardigree notes:

Every bad stereotype about cars is present when searching for something as simple as “woman mechanic” in the various stock photo services we typically use. Most of the photos aren’t even of mechanics who also happen to have two X chromosomes, but photos of women standing next to male mechanics trying to affect a confused pose.

As inaccurate as the photos of the women who can’t use tools are the photos of women who seem to use them only as sex objects. These women are typically sweaty, covered in grease, and somehow replacing a transmission while wearing only high heels, cutoffs and a skimpy top.

Check out the gallery for the seven types of images they identified. Here are a few examples:

A sweaty woman mechanic with tools

Conspicuously clean woman mechanic in a sundress and heels

A woman mechanic who wants to kill herself with jumper cables

And finally…

A normal woman mechanic working on a normal car normally

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Speaking of gender roles

Oh, Dora, I remember when you were young and spent all of your time exploring and avoiding Swiper with Map, Backpack, and Boots. Of course, everybody has to grow up sooner or later, but I had hoped that when you got older your adventures would continue. It seems, however, that your most recent adventure is focused on the kitchen. There isn’t anything wrong with being able to cook, but I am concerned that you are expected to provide all of the food at the picnics, birthdays, and barbeques that you have with your friends and family. Why isn’t Diego helping? You can be so much more! Just look how happy construction made this girl!

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Female Science Professor has a nice post today about questions that have been raised about Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  Obviously, it is important to thoroughly examine people who will be put in influential positions (clearly, we don’t need someone like this on the Supreme Court), but some of the questions that have been asked about Sotomayer focus on whether, as a woman, she will be guided by her emotions rather than the law.  FSP provides a few examples from people named John:

Republican senators will have to conduct thorough questioning in the confirmation hearings to make sure that she will not be a results-oriented voter, voting her emotions and politics rather than the law. (John Yoo)

She must prove her commitment to impartially deciding cases based on the law, rather than based on her own personal politics, feelings, and preferences. (John Cornyn)

It will be important to determine if Judge Sotomayor will decide cases based on her own personal feelings and political views, or the bedrock rule of law. (John Thune)

She then adds:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a big computer program to decide cases strictly on The Law? With a program, no one, not even a sensitive male judge, would be tempted to consult their feelings about an issue and we wouldn’t have to worry about all these emotional females populating the Highest Court in the Land every decade or two, tossing aside the rule of law on a whim if it suits their (probably hysterical) feelings to do so.

As an FSP, I am of course always doing that with my own personal research. Despite decades of experience as a scientist, I’ll be doing some research thing, and when it comes time to interpret the results, or make any big decision for that matter, I get all emotional and I forget all the bedrock rules of math and science, and I just go with whatever my emotions tell me to do at that exact moment. I really can’t help it.

It’s too bad I’m not teaching right now, since this would make a great case for the discussion of gender stereotypes.

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