We have to change the assumptions about female competence.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Most people have figured out that rape is wrong.

But it seems to be difficult for people to grasp these 3 fundamentally sexist behaviors:

  1. The existence of the wage gap: the average difference in the amount that men and women are paid.

Mansplaining provides evidence that there is something fundamentally wrong, and broken, in our regard for females as either intelligent, competent, or both.

Thought regurgitation is the propagation of sexism by not acknowledging how much intellectual labor is carried out by women, thus leading to the undervaluing of the contributions women make in all lives.

First, You Must Observe and Understand That The Gender Wage Gap is Real and It is BAD.

Female median earnings are lower than male median earnings across all occupations.

Why is this even real?

The graph above is displaying data from the United States Census Bureau. It was posted on March 25th, 2019 and accessed by me on October 19th, 2019 via the link at the bottom of the article.

Quick Overview of the Statistical Analysis Technique

The job titles are listed on the y-axis and they are grouped by the tendency of either females or males to dominate that industry. The first row shows the median across all occupations. Then the dataset is broken down by occupation and grouped into 3 parts: (1) female dominated occupations with less than 20% of the positions occupied by males, (2) about half female:male workers, and (3) male dominated occupations with less than 20% of the position occupied by females.

As mentioned, the results of the analysis are illustrated using median earnings between female workers and male workers over a year. The median data set for females is represented by purple dots and by blue dots for males.

A median of a dataset is the middle of a dataset. For example, if I have the values: 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 20, 100, then the bolded 2 is the median. The median is a helpful tool used in statistical analysis of datasets with outliers. If I calculate the average (mean) of those values I come to the number 12.81, rounded to the closest hundredth. The 20 and 100 in the dataset are outliers. Using the average makes it look like that entire dataset can be represented by the value 12.81, however the most frequently occurring value in there is 2. It is more representative of the dataset to discuss the median value, 2.

By using the median for the graphical illustration, the U.S. Census Bureau is demonstrating most accurately what we see in society. Yes, there are some women who are gazillionaires (outliers), but most people are average people.

If I reduce the world to numerical metaphors of salaries paid in a particular job, then for 11 women the salaries might look something like this:

10, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 30, 30, 40, 200, 1000

And for 11 men, the salaries might look something like this:

20, 40, 40, 40, 40, 40, 60, 60, 80, 200, 1000

Meaning that overall, it is more frequent to encounter a man earning double what a woman is earning for doing the same job. It makes a big difference in a household to earn 40$/hour vs. 20$/hour.

Understanding The Data and Why This Conversation is Important

  1. Writers, authors, payroll clerks, paralegals and pharmacists seem to be affected the least by sexist bullshit.

2. Financial managers seem to be affected the most by sexist bullshit.

3. In professions dominated by women, females make less than men.

4. In professions dominated by men, females makes less than men.

5. In professions where there are about equal numbers of females and males occupying the positions, females make less than men.

For doing the same job.

How Sexism is Shaped in Childhood

The gender wage gap sounds like a sinister plot by men against women, but it is probably not. I believe the gender pay gap is based on the gender bias in perceived competence and the presence of boy’s clubs from too early an age.

The Boy’s Club

Imagine this common scenario. A little girl wants to play with the boys on a playground and the boys say no. She asks why? They respond, “because you’re a girl”.

This statement implies that the girl can not keep up with the boys and they might have to alter their behavior to accommodate her. But what the boys do not know is that this statement is an assumption and a generalization. Sure, some girls might not be able to keep up with the group but some boys would not either. The difference is that the boys would give the other boys a chance to get better by including them in the group.

How would a baby boy even know the concept of “because you’re a girl”?

Because in childhood, when boys and girls do not play together, boys develop a sense of camaraderie that excludes girls from the club.

Google search for the definition of the word camaraderie.

Solution: co-ed sports teams in schools. Boys and girls will see that some boys and some girls are faster and stronger than other boys and girls. Not the simplistic story that boys in total are stronger than all the girls in general.

Perceived Competence

Perceived competence is “nurtured” into our brains from childhood because boys do not see their sisters and mothers interacting with tools from a young age. Men, you need to grow out of the boyhood experiences and understand the fact that you do have female colleagues who have learned how to use the tools even if we were not given them in childhood like you were.

The capacity to learn does not end with childhood.

Even though I was not shown the parts of a computer when I was a little girl (but was shown the parts of a kitchen and laundry room), I do know how to open up the computer and learn what the parts are inside it, if I need to.

Men, you are not actually, biologically, smarter than me. You have just been handed different experiences than me. But I have gone through an education that includes theoretical and technical components, so yes, I can compete and I am. And you know it, that’s why you regurgitate my ideas.

Solution: do not just give dolls to girls and tools to boys. Observe what the natural inclination of the child is and give them the toys that interest them. Here are some examples of toys for girls that would actually foster technical skills in them from a young age if your girl does not actually care about playing house. Some do, some don’t. We are all different.

https://girlswhostem.com/best-engineering-toys-for-girls/

How Does Mansplaining Fit Into The Picture

Mansplaining is the evidence to me that the person I am talking to assumes that I have no knowledge or understanding of the topic we are discussing. It is especially frustrating at the workplace and often occurs in response to a question I posed or at an attempt to have discussion with me about something technical. Why would I even bring up the topic if I had no knowledge or understanding of it?

It’s almost like their minds can not handle the fact that a woman has lived a life, and some conversations can be had with her with the assumption that she knows something about the situation being discussed.

In what kind of conversations does mansplaining occur most often in the workplace? Perhaps it took the male colleague 5 years to figure out something that took me 1 year. How is it even possible? Well, it is. Perhaps I have more wisdom or insight on how to approach a problem, or to make it more cost-effective, or efficient. How is it even possible?

Because I breathe, walk around the planet, and have a job, all things that a man does too. And maybe I can figure things out because I am a human being with a brain. And perhaps that brain works faster than yours.

Shocker.

Here is the alternative behavior that will make everything a bit easier for everyone. Your assumption should not be that you are about to provide your colleague with information they do not already have.

Your assumption should be that they might have this information, and if they do not, the conversation is the opportunity for them to ask questions.

If this simple attitude change occurs and everyone starts to be treated with more respect and dignity, slowly over time, the general attitudes towards women will evolve, as junior members observe and learn from the seniors.

Finally, Solutions for Thought Regurgitation

This one we have to fight for a little, ladies.

Men: start giving women credit.

Women: start reminding people you said so and so. You can do this by starting every meeting with, “last week I brought up this topic and these were my thoughts. I wanted to bring up so and so this week”, and then move into what that meeting is about. People really do need constant reminders that the information in their head came out of YOUR mouth. That it was understood by YOUR brain before theirs.

It’s completely bizarre, but unfortunately, it might be biology.

I shudder at the thought.

Providing Girls with Inclusivity, Opportunity, and Dignity is Good For EVERYONE.

If you do not actually care about equality and respect simply for the moral goodness of it all, it is still productive for you to help eliminate the gender pay gap and support feminism.

Why?

Because you will be able to share your responsibilities, burdens and joys with your female partners and your life will be easier.

You won’t be the sole provider to your household. And if you are a man in a dual income household with a woman, your partner will bring in more money that you can also enjoy.

If you are a man without a female partner, but you have a mom who works, she will bring in more money that you can enjoy.

The women in your life contribute to your life. If they have more money, they can either take better care of themselves and you will be less burdened to care for them, or they can contribute more financially and you will be less burdened to provide for the household.

Feminism is good for everyone.

United States Census Bureau. 2017 American Community Survey. Accessed: Oct 19th, 2019. URL:
www.census.gov/topics/employment/industry-occupation/data/tables.html

I’m curious about the human experience | PhD in Neuroscience | Instagram: neuro_roksana

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