Diversity is Not a Toxic Topic
If you are not a minority or a marginalized majority in U.S. culture, you do not have to think about your place in the society. You are the society. You are not a “male” lawyer or a “white” doctor. You’re simply a doctor.
You do not believe that people hire you because of your gender or your race because you’ve rarely been deselected for those reasons.Talk of white, male privilege in America makes people uncomfortable, even angry. It surely makes me uncomfortable.
I want to believeI live in a pure meritocracy where gender,race, sexual orientation, disability and the likeare no more consequential to my ability to earn a living than the color of my eyes or the freckles on my skin.
That’s because our national ideal is equality,meritocracy, and inclusion. We want to believe we live and work in a system that is not rigged either in our favor or against our interests.
We want to rise or fall on our own merit. We don’t want to believe we were born on third base or will forever be consigned to the dugout.
So let me just state this: Bias is not my fault and it’s not your fault.
It’s the way we’ve been acculturated. And as soon as we bring our implicit biases about “others” to consciousness, we immediately start to work on changing them because we’re all fair-minded people.
The Daily Beast addressed the perils of “benevolent” stereotyping in an article titled The Stereotype Trap. According to the social scientists whose research was cited there, “the favorable traits stereotypically associated with women often serve to perpetuate their lowerstatus.” They explained,
When people see women as warm and caring but less competent than men, they may give women positive evaluations but still feel that women need men to protect and take care of them. Thus, women’s subservience is justified. Men are not exempt from this type of ambivalent sexism; the stereotypic characteristics of men can also be analyzed into hostile and benevolent components that are analogous to those that apply to women, but women’s hostile attitudes toward men do not erase men’s dominance. This type of benevolent prejudice may rationalize racism as well as sexism, casting the dominant group as benevolent protectors rather than oppressors.
Please Don't Hire Me Because I'm a Woman
When I say, “Please don’t hire me because I’m a woman,” these are the stereotypes to which I refer. Rarely do litigators engaged in a bet-the-company, high-stakes piece of commercial litigation believe they need a warm and caring mediator to help them negotiate a settlement that satisfies all of the parties’ interests well enough to terminate litigation.
My husband and several other men I know asked me why I didn’t want to be hired based upon my gender. I tried the “Would you like to be hired because you’re Jewish?” angle, and that didn’t help.
Verna Myers, Diversity Consultant, Explains
So I called lawyer, author and diversity consultant Verna Myers, who heads her eponymous Baltimore consulting firm, for some help. She explains that applying stereotypes to women and minority professionals limits their clients’ understanding of what they bring to the task at hand, what they can contribute, and how they can contribute it.
Stereotypes, says Myers, create a box for women and minorities based upon their perceptions of who you are or who you should be. Those perceptions will limit women’s and minorities’ ability to show up for you with all of the knowledge, education, experience and sophistication they bring to the job.
“If you have a way of thinking about women,” she says, “then women can’t break out of your descriptor. And if they do—by being aggressive, for instance—they’re often penalized for doing so.”
According to Myers, both negative and positive stereotypes put the stereotyped individual into a double bind. “If she acts differently than the way you expect a ‘woman’ to behave, she’ll upset the people who have circumscribed her role. She’s in the double bind because if she acts [or] behaves as a generic, stereotypical ‘woman,’ she may have trouble doing the job you’ve hired her to do.”
As Gloria Steinem once said, all women are female impersonators. If you get that, then you understand the problem of stereotypes.
Read the full article below.