Earlier this semester, we briefly discussed the idea of a stereotype. If you are still unfamiliar with this concept, a stereotype is a common belief (usually negative) that is held about a group of people. For example, Asians are often seen as good at math. African-Americans are often thought to be very good at sports. People from poor areas are dumb. People with British accents are believed to be intelligent. Of course, such general assumptions about people have no real basis. We may know many Asians who are very bad at math. And so, such stereotypes often lead (to some) to negative consequences.
Remember that in “Brainology” written by Carol S. Dweck, Dweck states that stereotypes are practically a fixed mindset (4), which in turn, leads a person to avoid trying to improve in things such as academia because they believe that they will inevitably fail because of who they were born to be (1). Even if a stereotype is positive, there can be negative consequences. For example, earlier, I mentioned the stereotype that Asians are good at math. If an Asian student is, in fact, not good at math, they may feel incredible stress when confronted with the subject and may take measures to either avoid of hide his/her ignorance. For example, they may cheat.
And this can be true for many of us in this class. We might hold a certain mindset about who were are and what we’re able to do. So for this discussion, I’d like you answer several of these questions relating to stereotypes.
- What are a few stereotypes about the group you belong to?(I m Chinese my friend from Iran) You might fit into several groups. You might be part of a minority group, be a certain gender or come from a specific region of the world. You can talk about several stereotypes of all of these categories you identify with.
- How have these stereotypes affected you in small and big ways? Some of us may be angry about them. Some of us may feel more pressure to succeed. Others may even feel strange that they don’t fit these stereotypes. Describe your feelings on the matter and how these stereotypes may have affected your life.
- Think of a few stereotypes that you know of of the following groups: Hispanics. African Americans. People from poor areas. Women. You will notice that I have chosen to discuss specifically minority groups. It’s important to think about these groups, as people often hold negative assumptions about them that may systematically negatively affect their lives. Tell me about of a few of the stereotypes hold about them.
- How do you think these negative stereotypes impact their lives in the long run? For example, some people think women are naturally inferior to men because of biological reasons. I think many of us can agree that there are individuals out there (perhaps too many) who hold this perspective, especially those from older generations. How has a sexist sort of mentality harm women on a social and personal level?