UNDERSTANDING AND OVERCOMING GENDER NORMS

THE PERVASIVE POWER OF GENDER NORMS, 2016

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio commissioned The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity to explore the connection between Gender Norms, Implicit Bias, and the existing disparities between women and men in central Ohio.

The research shows that gender norms and implicit biases related to those norms have a major impact on the lives of women and girls, men and boys, how we see each other, how we see ourselves, and ultimately, how each are valued in society.

WHAT ARE GENDER NORMS?

Gender norms are popular and conventional ideas most people have about what it means to “act like” a man or a woman. We tend to learn them from our experiences in family, peer groups, places of worship, school, movies, magazines, and the internet. With persistent use, they come to be taken for granted or thought of as “natural” and “just the way things are.”

Gender norms tend to be narrow and significantly limit the range of possibility for gender expression.

WHAT’S IMPLICIT BIAS?

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Implicit biases may be activated based on any number of identities we perceive in others, such as gender, age, or race, and they tend to favor our own group, creating “us” and “them” divisions. Implicit biases encompass both attitudes and stereotypes we may unconsciously hold regarding groups in our society.

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