Second-Generation Sexism

Gregory A. Hall

Second-generation sexism or gender bias is term that has been coined to describe the current phenomena of sexism.  Studies show that sexism is prevalent in the workplace but it usually is not be as blatant as it was in the past. Dr. Susan Madsen, a professor of management at Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business, said “The first generation bias was more hostile toward women. People would say specifically to women ‘you shouldn’t be in the workplace because you should be home with kids.'” A new study from the Harvard Business School suggests sexism against women in today’s workplace is much more subtle.
As the study’s author, Peter Glick points out, sexism reflects the central gender relationship paradox: male dominance coexists with intimate interdependence on women. Men may rule, but heterosexual men depend on women for love, sex and domestic labor. Thus, a sexist man who bristles at working with women sees no contradiction in having his most intimate relationship with a female. If prejudice functions to maintain dominant groups’ power, sex is ideology must do so while allowing for, even encouraging heterosexual intimacy. Ambivalent sexism theory (Glick & Fiske, 1996, 2001) suggest that complimentary hostile and benevolently sexist beliefs developed precisely to accomplish this task. So, although male dominance creates hostile sexist attitudes that demean women, it’s meant interdependence generates what has been termed benevolent sexism; i.e., second-generation sexism, or second-generation gender bias.
Sexist men then find themselves simultaneously idealizing women while subordinating them in the workplace. This creates attention between male dominance and interdependence. Hostile sexism punishes women when they challenge male dominance, while benevolent sexism rewards women for conforming to stereotypes and roles that serve men’s needs. Together, these ideologies act as the carrot and the stick that motivate women to stay “in their place.”  For more information read Glick’s paper called BACKLASH AND THE DOUBLE BIND.
Of course, subtle sexism presents its challenges to an employment lawyer trying to prove sex discrimination in the workplace.  If you think you’re being subjected to gender discrimination in the workplace, you can contact Denver Employment Lawyer Gregory A. Hall.
Gregory A. Hall
Denver Employment Lawyer
3570 E. 12 Avenue, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80206
Ph. 303-320-0584

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