Inherent gender biases prove to discourage women despite significant historical progressions
Throughout history, several factors have discouraged women from having a voice in their futures and obtaining a platform to incite change.
One such factor is the existence of gender roles, which were especially prevalent before the late 1900s, characterizing a woman’s place as within the home.
Such gender roles continue to exist in today’s society on a lesser scale.
“To an extent, we socialize girls to be caregivers and the boys to work outside of the home. Before industrialization, that is how they survived…but roles have changed throughout time and it takes time to change them,” History Dept. member Misty Bisesi said.
At the same time, stereotypes about the ability of women have played a role in reducing their platform and their ability to invoke change.
According to Christa Craven, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Chair of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, “Some [women] have faced barriers within their fields because of restricted access to jobs and upward mobility … Politically, women have had less access to political power and less of a platform to progress ideas.”
In the United States, major leaps forward have helped women to attain their position in society, from the 19th Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act to Title IX to the Violence Against Women Act.
“We encourage girls to focus on aspects of themselves that are not necessarily helpful to achieving powerful positions…We need to become aware of the implicit biases that we hold… We need to think about how we characterize girls differently from how we characterize boys,” Anne Nurse, professor of sociology and chair of the sociology and anthropology department at the College of Wooster, said.
Beyond the United States and Europe, especially in third world countries, women face the restrictions that generations have worked to overcome in more developed areas. In such places, the battle for a voice is still being fought.
In these instances, Nurse said a focus must be placed on making culturally sensitive decisions while supporting initiatives to help empower women.
Regardless of location, ethnicity and religion, women need policies that provide equal access, encourage them to go into a wide range of fields and help them to believe in their own strength, according to Nurse.