Is Gender Stereotyping Discrimination In Disguise

By | January 24, 2022
Is Gender Stereotyping Discrimination In Disguise

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Introduction

The term Gender Stereotyping can be defined as overgeneralizing the characteristics, functions, and attributes related to a certain group of people based purely on their gender. Because of these gender stereotypes, a notion of biases is created and accepted pertaining to certain qualities or characteristics about each gender, and a notion is perpetuated that each gender is associated with certain behaviour. Hence, as per the standard norms of society, if a man or woman acts in a way that is different from how their gender is expected to act, then there is a disconnect created between that individual and the gender at large.[1]

In the present times, the construct of “gender” is growing and becoming broad. Hence, the people who are still stuck up with the binary idea of gender find it difficult to wrap their brains around the individuals who do not strictly fit in the strict category of gender or the ones who do not identify themselves with any gender at all.

A very common illustration for the same can be seen when a strong and assertive woman is called a “bitch” and a “whore“, while a man who is not the masculine is often referred to as a “sissy” or a “wimp” or are straight-up declared as gay, which is a very derogatory remark when it comes to the sentiments of the LGBTQ community.[2]

The “Social” Acceptance

Gender stereotypes carry a huge level of danger with them as they cause the common population to be disoriented in their perceptions. Hence, if an individual does not align himself or herself with the accepted gender stereotypes, then he/she suffers discrimination and unequal and unfair treatment from society. A bigger problem looms large over the head of Gender Stereotyping, as when inequality or discrimination takes place in the background of gender Stereotyping, then it more often than not leads to the most basic sense of sexism.[3]

We, as people, are easily swayed by the interactions made with other people for whom our minds have not been programmed to stereotype. This happens as Stereotyping enables our brains to align themselves with the “common sense” of the world.

People, who call themselves “gender fluid” or the ones who think that they don’t conform to strict gender stereotypes, threaten the stereotypes that are familiar to society.[4]

Transgender and the people who do not conform to any gender are discriminated against socially and economically on an everyday basis due to their gender expression and identity. There are accounts of lawyers who tell that their clients who are transgenders face atrocities such as losing their houses, being fired from their jobs, experiencing violence, and not being able to access basic healthcare.

As per statistics, sixty-three per cent of the trans and gender non-conforming community have experienced brutal acts of discrimination, that hinder their quality of life.  There needs to be a solution to this fight against instilled stereotyping.[5]

Stereotyping Creeping into Workplace

Gender discrimination takes place in different places and in diverse forms. In a professional setup, gender discrimination takes place when the employer treats an employee differently from the other employees based on their gender. And mostly, the pretext for the employer is the stereotype which he keeps as the basis for this discrimination.

This takes an even darker turn when employers view women in a negative light based on their sexual orientation or their gender expression. A common example for the same is when a woman is not deemed fit for a job because of the fact that she is not as strong as a man or because she is too emotional.[6]

These stereotypes are used by employers while deciding whether to promote an employee or not. More often than not, women fall victim to these outdated stereotypes relating to the roles of women at work, at educational institutions, or their perceived role as a mother or a wife. This discrimination can even range to an employer hiring or promoting a male candidate, just because the other female candidate of a certain age might not be able to perform due to pregnancy or motherhood.

It is to be noted that often people assume that gender stereotypes are only against women. But this is not true. They are also geared towards men. For instance, an employer may hire a woman for a job because she is believed to be better suited for the job because either she is more sensitive or even more sexually appealing.

Many countries have enacted various laws for eradicating this toxic culture of gender stereotyping. In the USA, the state of New York has enacted various laws that protect employees from inappropriate and arbitrary gender discrimination. These laws mandate the employers to view all the employees equally throughout the requirement process. This involves matters related to hiring, pay scales, holidays, promotions, etc. If an employer seems to be treating employees differently based on their gender, then they are said to be indulging in gender discrimination.

The Impact

Stereotypes are not in every case innately pessimistic, but since they are assumptions that ignore the individualistic and intrinsic capacities of a person, they will generally be biased.

Stereotyping can impede an individual’s capacity to realize their true capacity by restricting decisions. They are the root cause for repetitive gender discrimination, which negatively influences the factual and legal considerable equality that ought to be ensured to women.

They convert into commonsense approaches, laws, and practices that cause damage to women on the ground.

The effect of “this on the psychological and integrity of women is to deny them of the same knowledge imparted to men, exercise and harnessing the rights and privileges and key opportunities” (CEDAW Committee proposal).

Common instances of this are the gender pay gap, segregation at workplaces, refusal of advancements to the initiative, glass ceiling in various jobs, expanded casualization of women labourers and feminization of destitution, trafficking, being married forcibly, female genital mutilation, honour killings, violence against women domestically, and lower levels of work opportunities[7].

Stereotypes legitimize gender discrimination all the more extensively and support and sustain verifiable and underlying examples of discrimination.

Men endure too in light of the fact that adjusting to manly roles of cutthroat and ambitious jobs can come down on them and deny them of joys that can emerge out of nurturing and having close bonded relationships.

Then again, the advantages of gender equality and women’s strengthening in this multitude of regions are recognized certain.

Counter Stereotyping

The peculiarity of gender stereotypes should be countered and battled in numerous areas: in languages and jargon, laws and practices, outlooks of individuals, equity frameworks, media, and schooling, in various associations and public specialists, in ventures, and in people.

Coordinated exertion is expected to change what an ally of gender equality, Professor Ling White from the United States of America called the cosmography of gender inequality. He called attention to that the “propensity for language” infers that “character is predominantly a male attribute and that women are a subhuman … subspecies … men as a pioneer, lady as a devotee, man as producer, a lady as a consumer, man as strength, a lady as shortcoming … this is a cosmography that has brought to us man as attacker and humankind the person in question.

In the homegrown family setting, at the local area, society, and public levels, just as the worldwide level, we want to establish an empowering environment, explicit organizations, frameworks, and individual heroes and good example creation are called for.


[1] BOBBITT-ZEHER, DONNA. “GENDER DISCRIMINATION AT WORK: Connecting Gender Stereotypes, Institutional Policies, and Gender Composition of Workplace.” Gender and Society, vol. 25, no. 6, Sage Publications, Inc., 2011, pp. 764–86, Available here.

[2] Turner, Ilona M. “Sex Stereotyping per Se: Transgender Employees and Title VII.” California Law Review, vol. 95, no. 2, California Law Review, Inc., 2007, pp. 561–96, Available here.

[3] CASTAGNETTI, CAROLINA, and LUISA ROSTI. “UNFAIR TOURNAMENTS: Gender Stereotyping and Wage Discrimination among Italian Graduates.” Gender and Society, vol. 27, no. 5, Sage Publications, Inc., 2013, pp. 630–58, Available here.

[4] Suk, Julie C. “Are Gender Stereotypes Bad for Women? Rethinking Antidiscrimination Law and Work-Family Conflict.” Columbia Law Review, vol. 110, no. 1, Columbia Law Review Association, Inc., 2010, pp. 1–69, Available here.

[5] Mulvey, Kelly Lynn, and Melanie Killen. “Challenging Gender Stereotypes: Resistance and Exclusion.” Child Development, vol. 86, no. 3, [Wiley, Society for Research in Child Development], 2015, pp. 681–94, Available here.

[6] Heilman, Madeline E. “Sex Discrimination and the Affirmative Action Remedy: The Role of Sex Stereotypes.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 16, no. 9, Springer, 1997, pp. 877–89, Available here.

[7] Gorman, Elizabeth H. “Gender Stereotypes, Same-Gender Preferences, and Organizational Variation in the Hiring of Women: Evidence from Law Firms.” American Sociological Review, vol. 70, no. 4, [American Sociological Association, Sage Publications, Inc.], 2005, pp. 702–28, Available here.


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Author: Antariksh Anant

Antariksh is a Law student at RGNUL - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala, Punjab, India.

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