Although few people admit (at least loudly) that they are sexist; However, new research has been published in the scientific Journal of Experimental Social Psychology In September 2020, it was found that nearly 75% of people surveyed from more than 78 countries around the world implicitly associated higher levels of intelligence with men more than women.
Researchers from New York University, Denver University and Harvard University initially asked more than 3,600 people, including children, whether they agreed with the stereotype that men were smarter than women, and they confirmed that they disagreed.
But the researchers then asked them to run a test that measures their implicit bias, or attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our decisions, and the result was that between 60% and 75% of the participants showed some evidence of the implicit stereotype, which linked intelligence with men more than women. .
Underrepresentation of women
This bias usually plays a role in why women are underrepresented in fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as success is seen to depend on high levels of intellectual ability, the study says.
This can also extend to other areas and parts of society, such as politics, where there are gender stereotypes associated with leadership roles.
André Symbian, co-author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University, says, “If you switch the stereotype about intelligence with other stereotypes, the same kind of mechanisms unfold in other areas, where women are underrepresented.”
The study of intersex intelligence, Symbian says, was an attempt to document whether people endorse the stereotype that links intelligence and genius to men more than women, and if so, how widespread is the stereotype? The study reveals that the majority of participants from 78 countries showed some evidence of an implicit stereotype.
What does implicit bias mean?
Tessa Charlesworth, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and a professor and co-author of the study, says that using the implicit bias measure in the field of psychology is important not only because it reveals what the individual holds in their minds; But it also reveals the culture around us, which affects the input of our minds subconsciously. Implicit bias measures actually capture the correlations that are embedded every day around us.
As a result, understanding the depth of the link between male, genius, female, and intelligence in cultures around the world can help psychologists understand why women are underrepresented in the fields of greatest need for brilliance and intelligence.
Can implicit bias be overcome?
Mental health writer Joe Yorkaba says in an article for Verywellmind that there are many underlying biases related to gender, race, income, geographic location, and more. We all carry it, even if we like to believe that we will never photograph a person based on their gender or race.
These implicit biases often lead to women, people of color, and other marginalized groups being underrepresented in various fields; But it also contributes to issues such as assault of women and the killing of blacks by police.
According to the study, changing implicit stereotypes is not an easy task and may require a lot of self. But this change could start with observing your daily language, and how you can better explain the ways that it might affect your actions, as well as the varied representation in TV shows, movies and advertisements.
What can we do?
Symbian says researchers hope to understand how beliefs about what is needed to succeed have affected diversity in specific academic fields. Charlesworth also says she is currently evaluating millions of books, TV shows and talks to discover how prevalent gender stereotypes are in everyday language.
Both – Symbian and Charlesworth – agree that once researchers understand the prevalence of gender stereotypes and their impact on diversity in academic fields, the next step is intervention. Intervention is difficult, however, partly because people are often not aware of their implicit biases. In addition, people develop implicit biases very early on. This study included children between the ages of 9 and 10.
Just as working more women in STEM will not stop stereotypes, which the surrounding culture instill at a very young age, says Charlesworth. “We need to do things as a community to check ourselves and systematic biases in our language, and also in acting, movies, and posters.” “We need to disrupt this bias in the source of culture.”
People who work in academia also can work to disrupt systems that reinforce biases. Professors and those working in academia should talk about what they know people need to succeed, such as building specific skills and setting hours of practice, not just getting the gift of intelligence.