Stereotypes and Education
Stereotypes have been a huge influence of our culture for many years. They are a tool that help us to fit into society or to impact our expectations of others. Although hard to exactly define, they have been recorded and studied as early as the 1900’s.
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In 2015 SciELO published an article in the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology about the ‘meaning and origin of stereotypes amongst South African Employees’. Although not specifically relevent, this paper provides a definition of a stereotype (if that’s really even possible) and explains the negative impacts of it on society;
‘The term stereotype was first coined by Lippmann in 1922 (as cited in Dovidio, Hewstone, Glick & Esses, 2010) in order to describe a social group’s perceived characteristics. Furthermore, according to Allport (1954, p. 191), a stereotype is an ‘an exaggerated belief associated with a category.’
But why are stereotypes so powerful to society? Ingrained in us from a young age. Take the ‘average’ woman. She’s pretty, thin, tall, university trained, well-paid and more often than not, caucasian. But why?
Now this article isn’t about race or discrimination. I’m not tellign you what you should or should not think. It’s about opening your eyes to the reality that your unintentional ‘typecasting’ could be having a larger impact on your life than you think.
Take the average working environment as an example. I am a white, middle-class woman. Does that mean I have a better chance of getting the job over an ethinic minority? Or does it mean I’m less likely to recieve a promotion because I work with white men? It shouldn’t. But the sad reality is that in many instances, this is the case.
Furthermore education is another aspect that is highly discriminated. Let’s say I’m applying to be a sales executive at a successfull company in London and I’ve got a University Degree in Journalism. Meanwhile my competitor had to re-do his school qualificatiosn to complete a college diploma specifically in Sales and Marketing. Who’s more likely to get the job? Him right? Nope. Because when it comes down to the CV, University trumps College.
Now this isn’t the same for every company, but many employers use this system, mostly without even realising it. And decades ago, society believed this was acceptable. But this is 2020, and as many changes have been made (Parks/Pankhurst) we are finally breaking these archaic ideals of our predecessors.
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So this is just a quick reminder. Not everything is as simple as it seems. Try your best to define these sterotypes and attempt to squash this behaviour so that we can make a more effective difference on our future generations. And as always, be kind, because you dont know what people are going through.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to replies, comments and suggestions.
Written by Siobhan Lansdowne