The Power of Identifying the Intangible

As modern day supporters of women’s rights, we admire those who came before us, who overcame great obstacles to blaze the trail toward gender equality.  And though our goal remains the same, we must recognize that the challenges women face have certainly evolved over time.  In the past, blatant sexual harassment and discrimination were commonly experienced, whereas today, inequities are most common in much subtler forms.

At our next meeting, on Tuesday, September 4th at 5pm in the Undergraduate Library Room 211, we will discuss some features of women’s issues that can be difficult to quantify.  One such phenomenon is stereotype threat, which is the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group.  The recommended reading for this meeting is a very interesting article recently on NPR on “how stereotypes can drive women to quit science”.  Also, related to this theme are microaggresions, which are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.  Recently this term has also been applied towards gender and sexual orientation.   The Wikipedia pages for both stereotype threat and microaggresion are very helpful so referring to those links is encouraged.  Our aim will be to recognize and articulate these situations and talk about ways to overcome these obstacles.

~ Tien


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