Excuse me, but “I’m not your wife!”
So cue the music. Wow. This one is guaranteed to give you pause, as we say in the South. [Yes. Texas is the South.] Contrary to the old Virginia Slims cigarette commercial, apparently the more things change the more they stay the same.
A recent study examined the attitudes of men in the workplace:
“A group of researchers from several universities recently published a report on the attitudes and beliefs of employed men, which shows that those with wives who did not work outside the home or who worked part-time were more likely than those with wives who worked to: (1) have an unfavorable view about women in the workplace; (2) think workplaces run less smoothly with more women; (3) view workplaces with female leaders as less desirable; and (4) consider female candidates for promotion to be less qualified than comparable male colleagues.”
It raises some interesting chicken-and-egg questions, such as “are these men opposed to women working, and thus either marry women who are less career-minded, or pressure their wives into not pursuing full-time employment”, versus “is the experience of having a wife not working full time coloring their view of women who choose to do so.”
Like many academic works, this one hasn’t exactly caught fire but perhaps it should. Here are a few excerpts from websites attempting to spread the word:
From Lauren Stiller Rikleen at the Harvard Business Review blogs website:
“So even if a male boss explicitly states — and believes — he supports women in leadership, he might still exhibit contradictory behavior or remain oblivious to the obstacles that female colleagues face. Indeed, according to this HBR Research Report from the Center for Work-Life Policy, only 28% of men, compared with 49% of women, see gender bias as still prevalent in the workplace.”
From Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at the Atlantic website:
“Don’t be fooled by the bland title: The paper’s findings are a social Molotov cocktail wrapped in academic brown paper. Most notably, the three researchers (who hold positions at Harvard, NYU, and the University of Utah) found after a series of four studies that “husbands embedded in traditional and neo-traditional marriages (relative to husbands embedded in modern ones) exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace.”
“You think of women in a very positive light, you tend to put them on a pedestal — you don’t think you are discriminating against them, you just think you are protecting them,” she says of male leaders who may make up that “pocket of resistance” she and her colleagues studied. “Without realizing it you are preferring men over women when it comes to choice positions.”
The study has even found a path over to the Atheist Universe website:
“I just read a very interesting article at The Atlantic, about “benevolent” sexism. I don’t like the term benevolent in the context of sexism, though of course if you compare it with much more violent misogyny, I suppose it is.
A recently published study showed that men in traditional marriages tend to view women in the workplace in an unfavorable light, compared to men in modern marriages. The authors define ”traditional” marriage as a 1950s type of marriage, where the wife is not employed, and modern, where the wife is employed full-time.”
It likely doesn’t surprise anyone that most of the people writing about this study are women. Nor that one of the measures used in this study was the Implicit Association Test–an increasingly popular measure of unconscious bias.
Bias against women is not a women’s issue. Just like ageism isn’t an old person’s issue and racism is not an issue only for people of color. Our attitudes keep those unlike us from fully participating in the world–whether that is in reference to the world of work or the world of relationships or both. Bias makes us poorer and more isolated due to the lack of diversity in contribution resulting from our biases.
Bias in its many forms is what we write about the most on this particular blog. It’s an issue for all of us.