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Gender Bias and Sexism - Essay Example

Gender bias and sexism impacts adversely on scientific inquiry, women’s aspirations in the workplace and leads to gender violence. Increased public awareness through continuing exposure to the issues should help in a reversal of attitudes towards gender bias and sexism. Women’s subordination to men over the previous centuries was ascribed to their innate inferiority. This is well documented by Virginia Woolf (1929) in her extended essay on ‘women and fiction’ published under the title ‘A Room of One’s Own’. Two days spent in the British Museum Library allowed her to catalogue a plethora of baseless accounts of the ‘Mental, Moral, and Physical Inferiority of Women’, all written by men. She cites Prof. George Trevelyan, the eminent historian, to reveal the subservient conditions and dire poverty under which women lived in Elizabethan England. Women had no choice in who to marry, as the decision was entirely up to the men. Wife beating was common and the accepted norm, according to Prof. Trevelyan. In the 17th and 18th centuries science was declared to be solely a masculine pursuit. Prof. Robert Boyle and other members of the Royal Society embodied the characteristics of autonomous, rational, disinterested, and mathematically proficient masculinity. It took the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars to see women contributing equally competently in practically in all areas of human knowledge and enter learned professions. A feminist approach to science, for example, recently began to unearth

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masculine gender biases in fields like Archaeology and Embryology. As more women entered the field of archaeology, assumptions that feminine activities, like basket weaving were archaeologically inaccessible, as these were perishable were proved wrong. Continuing research shows that gender differences are not ‘hardwired’ in the embryonic brain. Upbringing, cultural and parental expectations have a far greater influence than genetics (Eliot, 2009). Unless more and more women enter scientific fields of research such as embryology, gender bias will continue to be an obstacle to scientific progress. An unsavoury aspect of sexism manifests itself in violence against women, especially in a domestic setting. In Spain, the government has been very active in seeking to redress this unwholesome state of affairs. Spain has a free, centralized confidential helpline to combat domestic violence incidents. It enacted The Gender Violence (Comprehensive Protection Measures) Act (Fundamental Law) 2004 (stet). The legal definition is: Gender violence comprises all acts of physical and psychological violence, including attacks against sexual freedom, or the arbitrary privation of freedom exerted against women by someone who is or has been, a spouse or with whom they have been linked by similar emotional relationships with or without cohabitation (Leader, 2011). Similar legal measures in most developed countries are designed to curb sexism manifested in violence against women. An example of similar legislation from a developing country is the Republic Act No. 9262 (2004), Violence against Women and Children. Although there is now legislation to discourage discrimination at the place of work, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development reports that in almost all OECD countries, including the United States, these laws have been


Gender Bias and Sexism Whenever there is a preference for, or a prejudice against, one sex over the other, the resulting state of affairs is referred to as ‘gender bias’. Gender bias is reflected in unequal treatment generally, and more specifically in employment opportunities, as for example, in inequality of pay, promotion prospects, benefits, and privileges due to attitudes based on gender alone…
Gender Bias and Sexism
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