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02 August 2010
This is the Age of Aquarius: harmony and understanding, unity and love prevail. Don’t they? Well, maybe soon but of course while we wait for harmonic love to envelope us at least we have gender equality as part of the Aquarian unity consciousness…or do we?
Certainly advances in equality between the sexes have been made over the recent decades but according to a new study it seems that deep in our psyches there rests certain stereotypes that are difficult to shift.
For the study the researchers recruited male and female volunteers who watched fifteen minute videotapes of applicants for a job that was gender neutral. All of the applicants were actors and were rehearsed to deliver performances that displayed specific personal qualities. The volunteers judged the “applicants” and indicated what lay behind their judgement. The aim was to see if certain personal qualities were more acceptable in one sex than the other.
The results showed that there were significant differences in what was deemed acceptable in the job interview situation. Women, for instance, were judged negatively when they displayed dominance characteristics. Females were however, judged favourably when they showed communal and other-oriented thinking.
For men the feeling was even more strong. Men who behaved modestly were judged harshly. Modesty was viewed as a sign of weakness and uncertainty which are qualities that men are not “allowed” to carry. Men are expected to be “agentic”, that is, they are expected to be confident, ambitious, independent and self-focused.
It seems then from these results that when people deviate from stereotypical expectations they encounter backlash and negative judgement. Where is that Age of Aquarius when you need it?