Welcome to: The Second Sex, Much more than just a Second-Rate Problem.
Please excuse my appearance, I had a very large lunch today. Just kidding. I’m nine months pregnant, because I’m a woman, that’s my job. Again, just kidding. With that sexist notion..
Did you know that today, the average gender pay gap for women in the United States is 80 cents on the dollar, with the average woman standing to lose $430,480 over a forty-year career (Zalis, 2019).
But, this issue is much larger than just a pay gap between men and women and its effects are felt by much more than just monetary. At the very beginning of birth, for both male and females, sexism seeps into everyday development and carries through to adulthood.
What parents, teachers, and society influence onto the youth of today will greatly impact the future of tomorrow. If we don’t educate ourselves on the early stages of sexism, we will unknowingly pass an age-old bias to a brand-new generation.
Whether you are a parent or a teacher or an aunt or uncle, everyone has some connection to a child they love. If we don’t begin to solve this problem together, that child may not get the opportunities in life that they deserve or they themselves may continue to cycle.
When we think of this problem, do we see ourselves as the creators? As parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, do we think that the issue lies within us? Of course not, but we are wrong.
Let me walk you through a scenario (cue first image): You walk into a room with two toy boxes on each side. One is filled with building blocks, superheroes, and sharks. The other is filled with baby dolls, princesses, and unicorns. You are asked to entertain a toddler named Sarah who walks in. How do you do that?
The most common answer is that you went to the side of the room with the “girl toys” and had her play with the items in that toy box. This isn’t to say you did anything wrong, but it is the very start of sexism. Based on the sex of a child, we categorize them and set certain roles for them, simply through the objects they play with (cue second image). Unknowingly, we are contributing to society’s gender role problem with something as small as play. And it’s not just us, it’s our entire society (cue last image).
So what limits us to fixing this problem? The same thing that limits anyone from solving any big problem: it seems impossible.
We think we are only one person, so what can we do?
Well, one person can create a ripple and the effect of the ripple may be bigger than they ever imagine. We can stop only having our daughters play with soft, feminine, domestic toys for starters. But we can also become more aware of how our actions, like telling our sons that “boys don’t cry” and “you throw like a girl” can affect the cycle in the future.
The story begins once upon a time, 12,000 years ago when the patriarchal rule began. Back when the deterioration of female autonomy began and agriculture emerged, shifting power to physically stronger males (Ananthaswamy & Douglas, 2018).
Since then, societies have formed to have men dominate in their households (cue first image), communities, and governments. Prior to this, there was a connection between females and creation (e.g. mother earth)However, when procreative power was reconceived to be male, creative power was then also linked to male as well (McElvaine, 2018).
For instance (cue second image), religion, especially in monotheist forms, women have historically been repressed by male-dominated religions with teachings meant to dominate women and extend the church’s political and social power (Walker, 2014).
With thousands of years of historic discrimination and religious teachings, society has been given the cultural perception that males are stronger and more powerful than women(cue third image).
(Continue to Forces and Factors)
There isn’t just one factor behind the issue of sexism in our country, or world, for that matter. There are several.
Historically, for years, women have been suppressed by male-dominated societies.
Their rights had to be won to vote and to hold the same positions that men have throughout the past. (cue fourth image).
Secondly, religion and culture have played a major roles in suppression, as many male-dominated religions have influenced a secondary role for females (cue fifth image).
This ranges from Christianity, Islam, and even Buddhism. In many, women are restricted by: not being able to hold positions of power, be ordained, enter certain places of worship, and conduct themselves in the same manner as male followers.
Third, politically, there has been, and continues to be a lack of female representation in comparison to males. (cue sixth image). There has also been a lack of protection on women’s rights.
If young children only ever see predominantly male leaders, there is a lesser chance of finding a society of equality in the future.
With years of discrimination within a culture that has been shaped by the political and religious power of men, each generation continues to be taught and led through the same examples and perceptions of the past.
From an early age, children are taught that genders cannot be mixed and to abide by what is correct for their particular sex. Most times this means a bias is formed where girl traits are seen to have less in value than boys. This, in turn, creates an environment where the male gender is considered better in comparison to the female gender and sexism is facilitated through their child development (Smith, 2016).
As we’ve seen, boys are given toys that are masculine and ridged while girls are given domesticated dolls and soft, safe playtime items.
Dr. Lauren Spinner, a developmental psychologist at the University of Kent said, “Traditionally masculine toys like blocks and puzzles encourage visual and spatial skills, while traditionally feminine toys encourage communication and social skills (Klass, 2018).
This being so, both male and female children are being impacted by gender stereotypes and as they grow, the effects of these actions can carry through into adolescence and adulthood.
Johns Hopkins pediatrician Robert Blum shares, “Girls are consistently conditioned to stay clear of boys and consider how to protect their bodies from male attention…. Too often a boy's aggression is dismissed as natural and they are inadvertently encouraged in the behavior.”
In the adolescent phase, certain educational opportunities are not as prominent for girl as they are for boys. This is specifically true the STEM field. It estimated that there will be 1.4 million computing-related jobs in 2020, however women are only anticipated to fill a mere 3% of them (NYCEDC, 2015).
This all leads to women being affected by the difference in wage, workplace harassment, sexual assault, promotional bias, the inability to secure business loans, and lack of leadership roles.
This big problem can, and does, require many different solutions. However, we have been taught that solving a problem as big as this, can start small.
So what do I plan to do? From a business perspective and on a personal level, I can start within my community to reshape gender stereotypes. As an administrator of a school and a current parent, I can work locally with parents and teachers to educate them on gender stereotypes and provide them with the tools needed to raise more gender-neutral children.
This may be possible through our local community arts building by hosting weekly workshops and discussion groups where I can provide one-on-one training, guest speakers who specialize in gender development, and exercises to help them positively influence the youth of our community.
This small step can potentially grow larger as I document the process through photography and blog writing. From this, I may be able to reach more people and gain more footing in child gender development, an in essence, equality.
These workshops would be an experimental prototype on a local level, which could help me, help others, to create a society with less bias and more acceptance.
So where do I begin?
First and foremost, my key activities are to develop the workshop title, objectives, structure, and customer value.
The arts center plays a main role in the servicing location and will allow me a space to work directly with the community.
Technologically, I will need to develop a digital strategy and work online with email, social media, and a potential website/blog.
Lastly, one of the most important resources required would be the speakers that I will have at the workshops.
Cost Structure & Revenue Stream
Most importantly, the purchase of services from the specialists would be the first cost to inherent to the business model. These speakers are vital to the operation and contracting their services will most likely be the most expensive.
Other key cost structure components would be rent for the facility use, advertising, potential website design, and class materials.
Being located in a small town where the per capita personal income is $40,568 and the median household income is only $60,809 (Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, 2019), the customer segments may only be able to pay a minimal amount for the services offered.
Because this concept is something unique for the area, it would be best to charge around the same rate or lower than current classes offered at the art center, around of $15.00-$25.00 (Tamaqua Arts, 2019),
Seeing that this service is new, at this time, I think it would be best to use the pricing tactic of penetration, so I can gain market share and create brand loyalty before raising prices (CFI, n.d.).
Creating value for the customers is the most important objective and is the sole purpose of hosting the workshops. It will be my goal to give them insight into combating sexism from an early age and assist them to successfully raise children and students with growth mindsets and leadership capabilities.
Minimally, if I can assist each client with at least one concern or issue they are having, I will feel that I produced a viable product.
By developing a relationship with my clients, the hope is that they value the course enough to refer others to join. They are the key components of my business model, as I am providing a service to them, and having them integrated in this process is a necessity.
This entire project is dependent on the participation and value gained from my customers and the relationships that are built between us.
Reaching my customer segment is one of the first activities needed to be completed for this project. It has been suggested that websites, social media, email marketing, SEO & content marketing, pay-per-click, and word of mouth are the six best marketing channels for 2019 (Gotter, 2018).
Based on my budget and resources, I will be able to use four out of the six.
The customers that these channels will reach are parents, stepparents, teachers, grandparents, and coaches, ideally. All of these customers are people who work directly with children and who feel they, along with their children and/or students, can benefit from the course.
Looking deeper, a customer persona for these workshops would preferably be someone whose profile is between the ages 25-40, male or female, parent to at least one child under the age of ten, who has an open mind, willingness to learn, and is motivated by the future opportunities of their child/children.
What began as a project into sexism in the workplace, pulled me into the greater issue of sexism as a whole. I cannot simply find a solution to discrimination practices within the workplace without understanding why they are there in the first place.
This wicked problem stems much deeper than today’s pay gap; it is rooted through our history and upbringing. It is found in our churches and on the lips of our elders.
As a woman, I have felt the effects of this wicked problem. I have been objectified, placed in a role, and struggled to reach the same success as my male counterparts. But I have also kept myself educated, marched for my rights in Washington, and made it a priority to raise my children to look past the stereotypes that society wants to give them.
With my contribution to the solution of this wicked problem, it is my hope that I can start a ripple effect to its full resolve
This will not be without its challenges. Creating a new concept to implement in a small community, which lacks diversity and open-mindedness, may cause this workshop prototype service to be slow-moving at first. However, as we have learned over the past couple of weeks, ripple effects can work when you start small and keep pushing forward.
Every great leader has found something that inspires them, and in my case, I’m called to change the perception of sexism, on person at a time.
Even though it is just one small step, in one small town, I hope my mission resonates with others to make a bigger impact throughout the country.
The second sex is much more than just a second-rate problem and together we can help balance the scale. Thank you!