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Commentary: Can She Do the Job?

Trameka Pope (left) and Aleezah Washington

When we think about workplace gender issues, we usually think about issues like sexual harassment, the pay gap, and the glass ceiling. But the effects of bias spread into many aspects of everyday work, often in ways that aren't always easy to recognize or identify. The idea that women are not well-suited for the workplace leads to stereotyping women, often questioning can she do the job?

Women are frequently painted with traditional female-gendered traits such as empathetic, emotional, and nurturing, all of which are viewed negatively in the workplace. When it comes to stereotyping men, they are viewed as dominant, assertive, and confident. These are all qualities that deem men more qualified for leadership positions, overlooking qualified women who are subject to the stereotypes associated with their gender.

Women are placed in uniquely challenging positions where they are called upon to be assertive, confident, and dominant, without being seen as bossy, snobby, or naggy. With these restrictive limitations put onto women, it leads to underrepresentation of women in leadership roles.

Once a woman has been fortunate enough to enter the workplace, her priorities are questioned with concerns regarding her loyalty to the company if she happens to have a family. It will be often assumed that women prioritize their family over their careers and will eventually choose between one or the other.

Luckily, in the most recent years there has been an evolutionary change amongst women and men sharing their parental duties and eliminating said gender roles.

With the way that the world has been moving, there is hope that one day, gender stereotyping, specifically against women will be put to rest. We have seen a huge move in the right direction as we have our first ever Black-female Vice President, Kamala Harris. Our time is now.

Here’s to strong women! May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them! Happy Women’s History Month!

Aleezah Washington and Trameka Pope are graduate assistants at the Western Illinois University Women’s Center.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.