By Alexandra Blockton
Can you imagine how someone may feel when judged by others because of gender? This negativity can be devastating for most individuals. In the book titled, “Delusions of Gender,” author Cordelia Fine goes into detail about the pseudoscientific claims related to sex differences without any hesitation. These misconceptions begin in infancy and persist into adulthood. The book comprises three parts: “Half-Changed World,” “Neurosexism,” and “Recycling Gender,” respectively. Gender stereotypes are present in workplace harassment, marriage roles in the household, proficiency in math, and neurological development. Even the feedback children receive from their peers while playing with toys is influenced by these gender stereotypes.
In the first part of the book, “Half-Changed World,” Fine references author Patricia Fara’s book, “Scientists Anonymous.” Fara mentions how difficult it is for a woman to be treated equally in the workplace compared to her male coworkers. Conversely, when a transgender individual transitions from female to male, they often experience increased respect at work. His coworkers confided in him. He began to receive praise and recognition from them, and they started to look up to him more at the workplace. However, such a transformation should not be the prerequisite for feeling valued in one’s work environment.
The second part of the book titled, “Neurosexism,” relates to the sayings and demonstrations of Allan and Barbara Pease within the book titled, “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps.” Neuroimaging studies concerning emotional processing detected women to be more emotional when compared to men. For example, men value being able to think more, and women are more involved with their emotions, highlighting psychological sex differences.
Furthermore, in the third part of the book titled, “Recycling Gender,” Fine says, “When developmental psychologists unobtrusively watch what goes on in preschool classrooms, they find that children receive significantly cooler responses from their peers when they engage in activities that defy traditional gender norms.” In preschool settings, if a child sees their peer playing with a toy that doesn’t align with their perceived gender, they would respond to their fellow peer by saying things like “You’re silly; that’s for girls,” or “That’s dumb; boys don’t play with dolls.” This behavior perpetuates issues related to crossing gender norms among peers. Some would be shocked to read about how outspoken children in preschool can be.
Fine also highlights the stereotypes of gender differences in marriage that can cause issues. This topic, mentioned within the book, can catch someone by surprise. In the past, married couples were known to have specific gender roles within their households. For example, the wife would cook, clean, do laundry, wash dishes, and be the primary caretaker of their children, etc. While the husband works outside of the home and is known as the “breadwinner” within their marriage. Nowadays, many couples share these gender-specific roles. Some women work outside the home, while men take on caretaker responsibilities alongside their jobs. Each marriage has its own dynamic regarding gender-specific roles.
The comparison of male and female approaches to dealing with stress presents another issue. Men will act on it and handle it in necessary manners to deal with the issue. On the other hand, women tend to be emotional, while using a logical approach to figuring out the details. Men’s brains are skewed towards an increased local connectivity. Fine said, “the female brain skews toward ‘long-range’ and ‘interhemispheric connectivity is better structured for empathizing.”
When it comes to inequalities involving education, math was considered a male-dominated subject for a long time. Nowadays, women are becoming high achievers in math as well!
Research shows that men face considerable pressure when pursuing careers in fields traditionally associated with femininity, in contrast to women, who often experience workplace harassment. It should be considered that men have also experienced harassment in the workplace, even if less often. “Needless to say, the working environment for women is far better now than it was a hundred years ago,” Fine said. Individuals who believe they have experienced workplace harassment should report it to the proper authority in a position of power.