By Molly Krasnoff
Why are we judged merely by our gender? That is a question that has remained unanswered for many years. In 2003, the Harvard Business School had an idea to run an experiment to test their students to see if gender mattered when it came to hiring people. The researchers chose the case study of Heidi Roizen, who is a real-life entrepreneur. The case described how Heidi was successful, thanks to her outgoing personality and networking abilities. The same story was read by two groups of students with only one difference. One group was working on Heidi, and in the other the name was changed to Howard.
After reading through the resumes, (which are both the same besides the name, one being feminine versus the other masculine) they were asked for their thoughts, both groups found Heidi and Howard equally skillful which was no surprise considering their accomplishments were the same. However, Howard came across as the more appealing worker, while Heidi was seen as “very selfish” and “not the person you would like to work for.”
A couple years later, the study was conducted again, but this time researchers from Columbia’s Business School asked students to look over the resume of an entrepreneur called Howard Roizen. His resume showed that Mr. Howard had worked at Apple, launched his own software company and been a partner at a venture capital firm. He was a proficient networker and had very powerful friends including Bill Gates. The colleagues were put into two groups; one of the groups of kids was given his resume where he was later described as a “catalyst” and a “captain of industry.” The students thought he’d be an excellent person to have within a company because he was someone who got things done and was likable.
Now to remind you, in this experiment, Mr. Howard doesn’t exist. When students were asked to review the true owner of the resume, Ms. “Heidi” Roizen, they judged her again to be more selfish and less desirable than Mr. Howard, even though the resumes were the same except for the name.
In another recent study using similar names, both males and females got the job. However, female scientists were offered a starting salary of $26,500, while males were offered $30,200- that’s a $3,700 dollar difference. This is basically saying “because you are a woman you shouldn’t have the same pay as a man.”
Stars Speak Out
In a speech made by Emma Watson, she made it clear that this issue also affects men. Ms. Watson stated, “I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mothers.” This showed her audience that they expect him to care more about his job than his child. In another speech, this time made by Rowan Blanchard, she stated, “my nine year old brother has been called ‘a girl’ for being in touch with his emotions.” Both Emma Watson and Rowan Blanchard support the campaign HeForShe, which is a group trying to find equality for men and women.
Furthermore, according to Business Insider, men get a fatherhood bonus while woman get a motherhood penalty. They believe that men will put more effort into succeeding at work once they become fathers, and women will just put more effort towards their children. Continuing on what Emma Watson said, men and woman should have equal things happen to them when they have a child whether they both have penalties or bonuses. Men and woman should both be in there children’s lives the same amount, and should teach their children that judging someone based of their gender is not okay.
Many people notice the difference between genders from a young age, whether treated differently by teachers or by other people around them on a daily basis. Continuing on to the speech made by Rowan Blanchard, she stated that after joining the HeForShe foundation, she went to Instagram, asking fans for their experiences with gender inequality. Many of the young women wrote back about being told by teachers they shouldn’t pursue a career in science or technology because they are “male oriented careers.” I would describe this as irrational and disgusting, telling children they shouldn’t follow their dreams because they are a female.
In the article “Population Reference Bureau”, it is said that the percentage of women in workplaces have increased, proving this claim with a diagram from 1950-2000. In the 1950s, 33% of woman had a job while 94% of men were in a job. In 2000, 74% of women had a job and 86% of men had a job. The article states, “as shown in the figure, women ages 25 to 54 have increased their labor force participation rate steadily; by between 8 percent points.” trying to convince the world that gender inequality isn’t a problem.
Although this might be true, it still doesn’t change the fact that men have been/still had a higher percent in labor forces. Furthermore, most places have more men working than women. For example, the percentage of women working in the Senate is 20% while 80% of men work in the Senate. As for the House of Representatives, 19.4% of women and 80.6% of men.
Also, men are still treated with more respect and are believed to have better working skills because of their gender. To follow up on that, it is said in the article Business Insider on gender inequality, “women were judged more harshly. For example, a woman might be seen as lacking leadership if she’s overweight, while a man receives the same judgment if obese.” Posing the question, what’s the point of getting the job if you’re treated differently because of your gender?
Break the Barrier
Although the solutions are simple, people still haven’t done anything and that’s the problem. The only way to resolve this issue is for people to start noticing the issue and speak up about it. For example, a company can stop comparing men to women and start hiring both based on their skills and amount of effort. Another way is to set an example for our children; as many may already know, children get their intelligence and all they know from their parents. Teaching them it’s wrong to assume someone’s skills and attitude by their gender can help stop gender inequality.
Emma Watson wants everyone to use their voice, stating in her speech, “It is called HeForShe. I am inviting youth to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the ‘he’ for ‘she’ and to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?” showing that we can solve this problem only if we speak up and have our voices heard.
The case of Heidi-Howard Roizen showed many people around the world, including the students and colleagues in the two colleges, that gender inequality is a big issue affecting many people around the world. Heidi Roizen was asked later how she felt about gender inequality in total. She answered, speaking from her own disturbing experiences, “As for whether it has changed, I don’t feel I have the data to answer. What I do believe is that if you ask an equal number of women and men entrepreneurs today, ‘Have you ever been put in an awkward situation because of your gender?’ you will get more yeses from women than men. So I guess that means it is still an issue.”