Why expectations matter

Now, in one way, it is always possible just to ignore the whole thing. Attitudes, expectations, stereotypes, different rules, biases – it’s all so woolly, and subjective, and impossible to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt, so the hell with it; let’s just get on with it and sexism will wither away on its own.

But the trouble with that is, all those things have effects in the real world, that are not a bit woolly and subjective. If women are seen as

  • just there for sex
  • either there for sex or totally superfluous and in the way
  • second best
  • stupid and inept but tolerable to have around because of sex
  • an afterthought
  • peripheral
  • the exception to the rule

then they are less likely to be hired, promoted, commissioned, published, broadcast, cast in movies, invited to speak at conferences.

And behold – in the world we live in, that is indeed how things are. Maybe some of that or a lot of that is because women just don’t want to be hired or promoted or the rest of it, but maybe some of it or a lot of it is because of attitudes, expectations, stereotypes, different rules, biases.

Women can’t really afford to shrug off attitudes and expectations, unless we’re content to settle for smaller more limited opportunities and lives than men have.

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