Anti Discriminatory Practice: Gender and sexism

Anti discriminatory practice is about taking positive action to counter discrimination. It is about being pro active and presenting positive images of the diversity of people that make up our society and also challenging any discriminatory or oppressive language and behaviour. There are several kinds of discrimination, such as more commonly known, racism, disablism and ageism. One of the things we do when meeting people is to make assumptions about them. This is partly based on how we see ourselves as similar or different to other people.

We may respond to these similarities and differences positively or negatively. This booklet will be looking at gender inequality and how we can perhaps overcome and diverse the discrimination in sexism. SEXISM. The Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) is written in terms of discrimination against women but it applies equally to discrimination against men. These guidelines are written as if the discrimination applies to a woman but they should be read as also applying to a man. There are three types of discrimination which can apply to services. (Source from www. equalopportunitiescommission. o. uk).

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Direct sex discrimination Where a woman is treated less favourably than a man in similar circumstances because of her sex (s. 1 (1) (a) SDA). It is direct sex discrimination if: * financial institutions insist that a married woman who wants a loan must apply jointly with her husband (unless all married applicants are always required to apply jointly with their partners) Indirect sex discrimination Where a condition or requirement is applied equally to both women and men but, in fact, it adversely affects more women than men and is not genuinely necessary (s. 1 (1)(b) SDA).

For example, it may be indirect sex discrimination if: * A mortgage provider only gives mortgages to people who work full-time. Although this condition would apply to both sexes it is likely to adversely affect more women than men since more women work part-time. Many part-time workers are in permanent, secure, well-paid jobs and some can earn more than full-timers, so a refusal to give mortgages or loans solely because the applicant works part-time is unreasonable. Victimisation Where a person has been treated less favourably compared to others because he/she made a complaint of sex discrimination.

It also applies to those who assist the person. For example: A woman who took a sex discrimination claim under the employment provisions of the SDA against an amusement arcade was banned from using the facilities of the arcade. Witnesses who appeared for her at the employment tribunal were also banned. The woman and the witnesses would have a claim of victimisation against the owners of the arcade. (www. equalopportunitiescommission. co. uk) GENDER INEQUALITY. Sexism is a set of beliefs, practices and institutional structures which reinforces and is reinforced by patriarchy.

A longstanding definition of sexism is: a deep rooted, often unconscious system of beliefs, attitudes and institutions in which distinctions between peoples intrinsic worth are made on the grounds of their sex and sexual roles (in Bullock and Stallybrass, 1977, p. 571). *”The achievement of equality between men and women is a matter of human rights and a condition of social justice”. Fourth UN World Conference on Women, Beijing, September 1995 (Department of Education and Employment, 1995). Sexism operates within a system of patriarchy. Patriarchy is one of the structural dimensions of society which is strongly associated with the sexist culture.

This demeans and disempowers women and sows the seeds for the prejudice of women in terms of both attitudes and behaviour. Weber (1947) had used this concept to describe sexism. He used the term “the law of the father” to refer to the dominance of men within the family. The use of this term however, has been extended to describe the dominance of the males within the employment area and its reflection in the distribution of power. For example in the military forces, technology, universities, science, political and even religious sectors. (Such as the pope is and has always been male).

So therefore, this suggests male dominance in most areas. Richard Webb and David Tossell (1999) report the following statements; *Women are an oppressed majority. *They represent up to 51% of the UK population, yet they do not have the same rights as men nor do they have the same access to resources as men do. * Women are less likely to obtain the same sort of jobs as men or positions of power. They earn less then men and are a lot more vulnerable to employment. They tend to be in less prestigious jobs and less secure forms of employment.

This is mainly due to the discrimination that women are seen as the main “carer” role of the genders, being seen as the mother and the role to be the homemaker rather than the breadwinner, which is stereotypically seen as the male role. However, the biological differences within the roles are as such, that men are not able to conceive or give birth to children. Women, however do have that capability in being able to give birth and breast feed children. Barrett and McIntosh have argued that the family is oppressive to women and that it is an anti social institution. (Barrett and McIntosh 1982).

They argue that the nuclear family promotes individualistic rather than social or collective values, and its privatised nature excludes those outside of it. *Women do more housework than men. The discriminatory process is known as structural sexism. This begins at birth and is maintained through childhood. Stereotypical roles are played within the family. While society is constantly changing and the attitudes towards equality are constantly being changed the ground in attitudes and beliefs are so firmly rooted the change is only very gradual. The gender role stereotyping in families are still abundant.

For example, the mother stays at home to nurture the children whilst the father is out at work providing for the family. The girls tend to follow the role of the mother helping in household chores, such as cleaning and cooking, whilst the boys tend to follow the fathers role in helping fix the car or watching football! These social roles are defined within society, but because of the nature/nurture debate, they do appear to be biological differences and are therefore accepted and appreciated more easily. It is not just a matter of differences within the sexes. Abercrombie et al. 2000) argues that issues of gender (and gender inequality) now occupy a central place in sociological discussion. He quotes: “Gender is the social aspect of the differentiation of the sexes.

Sociological discussion in this area recognises that social rather than biological processes are the key to understanding the position of women (and men) in society. Notions that a woman’s biology, such as her capacity to bear children, determined the shape of her life have been replaced by complex debates as to how different social processes interact to produce a great variety of patterns of gender relations.

Emphasis shifted towards understanding the diversity of the social practices which constitute gender in different nations, classes and generations. (p. 193). This statement clarifies that there are inevitable differences between the sexes. The roles that societies define are not going to change dramatically because of this huge, yet inconceivably big difference of males and females. Although the roles of women in society are changing in the aspects of work and relationships, the biological aspects of women are always going to remain the same. GENDER STEREOTYPING IN YOUTH GROUPS.

The Brownie and Girl Guide Movement was set up as a youth group for girls. Originally, they were named the Rosebuds. The idea behind it was that the girls were fed up that the boys were allowed to have their own group, (the Boy Scouts) and the girls were left out of all the fun. The Rosebuds originally had to do menial feminine tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and sewing for the Scouts. Eventually the girls were not happy with the name Rosebuds and had the name changed to the Girl Guide Movement. The name Rosebuds in itself suggests the sexist views of women and girls, as the name is very feminine.

The original tasks the girls had to do were based around helping the Boy Scouts, which also suggests the sexist way in which society viewed girls and women. The ideas and values which were instilled into the girls was that they were the homemakers. The Girl Guides had to make sure they always had their uniform clean and always came “prepared”. This still is a big motto within the movement. Years ago “being prepared” meant having certain items in your purse which included a safety pin and small sewing kit. This was not something the Boy Scouts had to do.

The earning of badges is encouraged in the Movement as a way of setting up your independence for the future. However, the contrast in the types of tasks involved in the badges between the males and females are still quite divided. There are more homemaking badges within the girl guides, such as textiles, homemaking, which is the cleaning and organising of your home/bedroom for some weeks, childcare badge, tea badge, which involves the preparing of cakes, biscuits and tea for a fundraising event. These are still the most popular badges which are given out to the girl Guides.

This is because the values and ideas within the movement have still not changed a huge deal from being the homemaker as they are females. The Movement now as it stands has changed immensely. The Girl Guide movement now encourages independence and camping as the Boy Scouts have been doing for many years. As a voluntary Youth Group the Girl Guide Movement empowers the girls to lead independent lives, encourages social relationships with both sexes, shows positive regard for each young person and provides opportunity for personal growth.

This is quite a contrast from the once quite feminine ideas, role forming and principles which were once held. ANTI DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE The way in which this is done is through a number of different policies that the youth leaders have all adhered to within the movement. The following are some suggested guidelines that could be given in order for the Youth group to be effectively run in a way that there may be less discrimination in the group. 1. Respecting individuality. 2. Trusting people 3. Encouraging good interpersonal and communication skills 4. Promoting positive social relationships 5.

Young girls being involved in decision making 6. Providing a range of group work and social activities, including community involvement and more involvement within the Scouting activities. 7. The use of youth’s meetings to enable people to have an opportunity to influence and assist with planning, especially the young females, who have been previously excluded from or uninvolved in other activities. 8. Principles of inclusion independence and enablement are key issues. Alongside these principles, a staff team that is working together, receiving supervision opportunities for learning and development, is required.

Also to understand the need to work collaboratively by supporting multi professional and agency working. I feel that these policies are very important in all work. However with the involvement of young girls and women, it is important not to categorise their roles into somewhat of a homemaker role. To allow the girls to develop and flourish their own ideas and principles within the group they are involved and to develop these attitudes within their home environment is a positive way of diversing the discrimination females have within society.

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Sarah
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