Everyone stereotypes, whether they are doing so consciously or subconsciously. Our minds make quick judgements about others concerning race, gender and other attributes. When we think of stereotyping, we automatically assume the term is bad. However, stereotyping only becomes problematic when those fast impulses develop into an opinion that one believes is true, and affects how you interact with meeting other people of those certain stereotypes.
There are numerous stereotypes that exist presently in society. There is the classic one which differs between feminine and masculine labels. For example, “he throws like a girl,” assumes a feminine quality which creates the idea that girls aren’t as athletic. Another example surrounds racial backgrounds. This could be holding a bias towards someone who appears Asian and assuming they’re good at math.
In the article, Why Stereotypes Are Bad and What You Can Do about Them, former director of AAUW the Art and Editorial department Elizabeth Bolton, refers to the misfortunes made by stereotyping in the workplace. She used a potential reality about a black person interviewing for a job and how the interviewers might act differently towards them. “…stereotypes and biases serve to unfairly and sometimes unintentionally keep qualified, capable people out of jobs or positions of power.”
Many think that stereotypes and biases are things that we can’t control. That is simply untrue. There are several ways to rewire how we think in different situations and relate with others.
One method is to be aware of the biases you hold with regards to others. Instead of ignoring those discrepancies, realize those thoughts and learn from them. After correcting those feelings, encourage others to do the same while revisiting the idea of why we stereotype.
The other means to counteract stereotyping is to get out of your bubble and explore new places and peoples. One of the main reasons we stereotype is because we merely don’t have the experiences to understand people that are different than us. That’s why the best way to confront biases is to learn and accept the realities of others unlike ourselves. As Bolton states, “…our attitudes are malleable, if we care enough to change them.”