Study explores whether rude behavior to everyone masks sexism

A researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas found that people who are rude to everyone might not be perceived as sexist. Dr. Sora Jun, an assistant professor of organizations, strategy, and international management at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, and her co-authors identified a barrier that makes sexism difficult to recognize: men’s rudeness toward other men.

Their study, published in Psychological Science, found that a man doesn’t appear sexist if he treats everyone, both men and women, poorly. Jun said the idea for the research topic came from a discussion with his co-authors, Dr. Peter Belmi and Dr. Gabrielle S. Adams of the University of Virginia.

“We were having conversations about men who get away with making sexist comments,” Jun said. “We realized that a common characteristic among these people is that they are often seen as simply rude because they are also rude to men. We thought that this attribution of general rudeness could be what allows these people to continue displaying sexist behavior without retribution.” “Researchers conducted a series of five studies between 2019 and 2021, using online survey platforms.

First, a pilot study examined whether men can hold sexist beliefs and be rude to men. The researchers conducted a two-part survey of 759 employed men to obtain self-reports on rudeness toward co-workers and their attitudes and beliefs about women. The preliminary test found that men who reported having more negative stereotypes about women also reported being more impolite, impolite, or inconsiderate of their male and female colleagues.

The researchers said men believed that rudeness can obscure recognition of sexism by creating the perception of gender blindness, in which the perpetrator does not notice or pay attention to a person’s gender, creating an illusion of impartiality. “By ‘equal opportunity jerk,’ we mean an individual who is mistakenly seen as gender-blind in their negative treatment of others,” Jun said. “They think, ‘This person is presumably rude to men and women for equal and therefore cannot be sexist’. Of course, in our research, we found this perception to be wrong.”

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Next, the researchers tested whether rudeness toward men obscures gender bias. They surveyed nearly 5,000 male and female online participants and vocational school students. In one study, participants read tweets written by former President Donald Trump between July and August 2019, while he was in office. All of the participants read tweets containing negative comments toward women, and some saw additional tweets from Trump berating men.

Participants were asked if they thought Trump was sexist or gender blind. The study found that the more lay observers saw Trump being rude to men, the more they thought he was gender blind. In another study, participants read a fictional story about a manager who made a sexist comment toward a female intern. Some participants read that the manager also reprimands male interns.

In this study, when the manager made a sexist comment to a female intern and was also rude to male interns, the participants viewed it as less sexist because they perceived it as gender-blind. The findings suggested that rudeness obscures recognition of sexism by creating the perception that the sexist perpetrator does not notice or pay attention to gender when dealing with other people.

“Sexism and rudeness are two different concepts, and we tried to outline this idea in the document,” Jun said. “Rudeness is defined as behaviors that are considered impolite, discourteous, or inconsiderate. and behaviors that reflect, encourage or promote negative or pejorative stereotypes about women Not all rude behavior is sexist, because not all rude behavior invokes negative stereotypes about women, for example not recognizing a co-worker in the hallway On the other hand, not all sexist treatment is rude.” For example, Jun said, in a common form of sexism, called benevolent sexism, women are treated as if they are loved and protected. Benevolent sexism may be considered polite and courteous, but it harms gender equity by promoting negative stereotypes about women, such as being weak or lacking agency.

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Gender bias training The researchers also explored further implications of their findings, including gender bias training.

In a replicated study with the fictional manager, participants decreased the importance of gender bias training the more they saw the manager’s sexist rudeness toward men. Jun said these findings show that poor education creates a critical barrier to addressing sexism by deterring observers from recommending gender bias training for sexist perpetrators.

“The first step in eradicating sexism in the workplace is to identify it when it happens,” Jun said. that these problematic sexist behaviors continue to affect organizations”. The study also suggests that when rudeness toward men hides sexist behavior, women are harmed in more ways than one, Jun said.

Women must first deal with the sexism they face, she said. Second, they may begin to have doubts about whether sexism was really present, which can also be psychologically draining. Finally, even when women conclude that sexism is present, they may have difficulty convincing others that sexism is at play. Organizations must clearly define sexism in their training programs, Jun said.

“Our work suggests that laymen’s conception of sexism can be broad and malleable, so being clear about what it means to be sexist can help people better identify sexism,” she said. Jun said future research could examine whether rudeness can hide other types of discrimination, such as racism. (AND ME)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)